Herschel Smith wraps up his extended look at rules of engagement and our broader war plan for Iraq:
U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Iraq have failed, but not for lack of capabilities of the U.S. forces. A new strategy is needed, and this new strategy requires an overhaul of the rules of engagement from top to bottom, macroscopic to microscopic. The approach to success in the coming months is likely to be more population-centric. But the softly-softly approach of General David Petraeus might not be strategically robust enough to carry the day in Iraq. Petraeus introduced the “cordon-and-knock” approach in Mosul, but it seems a dubious proposition that the Sadrists who have promised to send U.S. reinforcements home in coffins will be persuaded to give themselves up because an invitation was extended (and if they succeed in melting into the population, there is no incentive to give themselves up).
Thomas Sowell bluntly addresses the issue in today’s Washington Times:
Make no mistake about it, we can still lose this war, but it will have to be lost politically. Most of the tragic chaos in Iraq today has its origins in politics. U.S. and other coalition troops in Iraq have had their hands tied with “rules of engagement” based on political, rather than military, considerations.
You cannot have law and order in any country where armed bands of competing militias can terrorize the population. Instead of confronting these militias at the outset with an ultimatum to disarm or be killed, we let the Iraqi government veto what our military forces could do, leaving Shi’ite militias intact in Baghdad’s “Sadr City” neighborhood and elsewhere.