This from frequent P&S contributor "Lurch," republished on the front page with his permission.
Jeff, even though I admire GEN Clark deeply, as a soldier, leader, and American, I agree with you that he is looking at this the wrong way around. We broke it, we bought it, we have to fix it, and sadly, the way we've been going about it is all wrong. While partnering US and native (used in its literal sense and not as an ethnic slur) may seem like a wise idea, the fact is that the Iraqi patriots (because that's what they are) just want us OUT of there. There has to be a level of trust established before we can undo what we've done.
We had no business going in there to begin with. That's been pretty well established, right, class?
Now we need to find the best way out. We're not going to beat them using standard military methods. We haven't the required forces, the funds, or time. We need three or four times the troops on the ground that we have now to **attempt** to pacify the country enough to begin to rebuild the economy we destroyed. The Marshall Plan worked after WWII because the German Army had been defeated, the populace's spirit and will to resist had finally collapsed and the populace was unarmed, and unable to maintain effective communications for coordination of resistance. These circumstances do not exist in Iraq.
We haven't the funds because we've squandered it all on Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel, unrecorded cash distributions to anyone who held out his hand, and God! It must have been heady days for bankers in Beirut, Liechtenstein and the Bahamas!
Having actually had some basic experience in trying to pacify an unwilling populace during the late unpleasantness in SE Asia I claim some slight degree of expertise. We can't accomplish our task without the cooperation of the populace.
I looked up Dr. Krepinevich's cv. It's all theory - school studies, monographs and lectures, and I always remember the difference between theory and practice, so I don't think he's got it right.
As a nation we need to "get right with the Lord" by which I mean we have to face the UN, admit we fucked up, ask for help and military assistance while we pour - pour - money into rebuilding the infrastructure. The military assistance is needed to keep 'em from blowing up the electrical plants as fast as we rebuild them. This will take years. Electricity is needed for any reasonable semblance of civilization in that country. That will enable us to power small businesses, industry, schools, hospitals - the list is endless.
Until Iraqis can see us honestly try to rebuild the civilization we destroyed they are not going to let up. Anything less will just create more agony for us, and in the long run, we WILL suffer for it in the US home cities.
How to pay for all this?
Well, there are those billions and billions in tax cuts up for renewal...
Oh, and let's stop babbling on about the "death tax", m'kay? I mean, really.... less that than 1 percent of the nation's citizens are affected. They get the benefits of livng in the US. They need to pay their own way. If they don't like it, I hear Australia is always looking for immigrants.
(Jeff's note: I'm not a big supporter of so-called "wealth distribution" aka "socialism," but I think Lurch makes a good point about the "death tax." That 1 percent of the nation's citizens possess something like 40 percent of the nation's wealth, which equates to almost complete control of the nation's body politic. So, yeah, if they want to have that much control over policy, let them pay for a little of it.)