In Congress, two of the Pentagon's most senior generals - Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - testified yesterday that the surge in sectarian violence in recent weeks raises the civil-war possibility. In London, Britain's outgoing ambassador to Iraq, William Patey, advised his government that Iraq is more likely headed toward "low-intensity civil war" and sectarian partition than toward a stable democracy.
Marine Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, author of The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century identified a more basic, undeniable problem: "Talking about a new strategy is useless until we get a new team—in the Pentagon, in the Administration. These guys have screwed up everything. They haven't got the credibility to implement anything."Where the hell these guys been for the past two years? This civil war has been brewing ever since we set foot on Iraqi soil!
Colonel Hammes mentions that the in Iraq situation mirrors closely what happened in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation: freedom fighters forced the USSR out, and all hell broke loose, but that hell started cracking open amongst the various factions even before the Soviets began pulling out, as rival groups, smelling Soviet retreat, began jockeying for the low-hanging fruit in an effort to be in place when the tree fell down.
And we all know what grew out of that: the Taliban, Osama bin Laden's haven and 9/11. And this is before taking into account the failure of Israel to neutralize the threat of Hamas and Hizbollah with mighty blunder of invading Lebanon. Global jihad might be the least of our worries. Iraq is an oil-rich nation. Iran would love to get its mitts on Iraq. So would a lot of countries that we compete with, like China and Russia. How long a stretch is it to imagine a global war the likes of which we've never seen involving nations and powers that have no regard for the "rules of war"?
The difficulty is, there is no other course of action for America but to pull our troops out. To stay would mean risking an occupation, the length of which would rival Roman forces in Gaul.
See July's Recommended Reading selection,
Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic
What we need to do in this military contraction is take a good long hard look at how we're going to fight was some have described as 4GW, a war where your enemy is going to hide behind rocks and trees and fire at will, like the American Revolution, only without the niceties of the Geneva Convention or military etiquette.
We can't do it with a blanket armed force. We'd better come up with a better way.