What the US Should Do Now regarding Iraq

At this point, the US lacks good options other than to turn as much of the political, aid, and security effort over to moderate Iraqis as soon as possible.

Other options are:

–Zero-base the failed contracting effort for FY2004 aid to put Iraqi Ministries and officials in charge. Reprogram funds for a massive new CERF program to enable US military commanders to use dollars instead of bullets at every opportunity. Make the focus of US control over aid whether Iraqis spend the money honestly and effectively, and not on US control, plans, and objectives.

 

–Accept the fact that a universal, nation-wide “security first” policy is simply stupid and impractical, and that the US needs to isolate and bypass islands of resistance, and focus on creating a legitimate Iraqi government that can unify Iraqis and allows nation building to work.

This means relying on containment in the case of truly troubled and high insurgent areas and focusing on security in friendly areas.

–Accept the fact there is no way to “drain the swamp.” At this point, there simply is no way to eliminate cadres of insurgents or to disarm the most threatening areas. Fallujah and similar areas have too much popular support for the insurgents, there are too many arms that can be hidden and too many points of vulnerability.

This does not mean the US should give up fighting the insurgents or its efforts to disarm them. It does mean the US must accept that it cannot win in the sense of eliminating them or turning hostile areas into secure and disarmed areas.

— Understand that their loyalties will be divided, that putting them in charge of hostile areas does not mean they can be expected to do more than work out a modus vivendi with the insurgents, and that the end result will often be to create “no go” or limited access areas for Americans.

The US cannot afford to repeat the Israeli mistake of assuming that any Iraqi authority in hostile areas can be counted on to provide security for Americans.
–Zero-base the US embassy plan to create the smallest staff practical of proven area experts, with the clear message to the Iraqis that not only are they going to be in charge, but non-performance means no US money and no continuation US troops and support. End the image of a US end of occupation after the occupation.