Conservative military analyst Bill Lind, of Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation lays out his strategy for victory in Iraq. Like President Bush he casts an analogy to Vietnam. Except that Lind argues the US strategically won the Vietnam War and in a similar way the US can strategically
win the War in Iraq.
Lind, who worked as an analyst in the Defense Department under Nixon appointee James Schlesinger, believes no military victory can be won in Iraq. He opposed the 2003 invasion and believes the surge will fail.
"The starting point, despite the disastrous course of the war to date, is to realize that the only possibilities for victory lie at the strategic level, not the tactical level. In part this is because we have botched the tactical level beyond redemption. While the efforts of General Petraeus and the Marines in Anbar province to apply classic counter-insurgency doctrine and protect the population instead of brutalizing it are laudatory, they come too late."
So what can we do to win? This is where Lind points to Vietnam.
That brilliant diplomatic move of establishing a rapprochement with China in effect won the Vietnam War for the United States. The threat that drew us into a major war was not North Vietnam, a power of purely local significance. Rather, it was Mao’s doctrine of exporting wars of national liberation. (The phrase at the time was “Two, three, many Vietnams.”) The new relationship Nixon established with China ended that threat, rendering our defeat on the ground in Vietnam irrelevant.
Likewise an American strategy would substitute Tehran for Beijing.
In the case of the war in Iraq, Iran is China, and the first component of a strategy to win in Iraq is to establish a rapprochement with Iran. That is, a general settlement of differences. The Iranians have offered us such a settlement—including a compromise on the nuclear issue—on generous terms. But the Bush administration, true to its hubris, refused to consider it, going so far as to upbraid the Swiss for daring to forward the overture to us. It seems, however, to remain on the table.
Lind argues that Rapproachment with Iran may be the only way to bring the stability to Iraq that was the stated goal of the Surge.
The reason a strategy to win in Iraq must begin with a rapprochement with Iran is that any real Iraqi state is likely to be allied to Iran. Even the quisling al-Maliki government cowering in the Green Zone is close to Iran. A legitimate Iraqi government, which is virtually certain to be dominated by Iraq’s Shi’ites, will probably be much closer.
A restored Iraqi state that is allied with Iran will quickly roll up al-Qaeda and other non-state forces in Iraq, which is the victory we most require. But the world’s perception will still be that the United States was defeated because its main regional rival, Iran, will emerge much strengthened. If Iran and America are no longer enemies, that issue becomes moot.
Lind lays out a challenge.
There is no chance the Bush administration, locked in a Totentanz with its dreams of world empire, will adopt this strategy. But the presidential debate season has already begun, and a bevy of candidates in both parties are looking around for something, anything that might get us out of the Iraqi morass without accepting defeat. If just one of them picks up on it, those yawningly dull debates might get a lot more interesting.
Could one of our Democratic party Presidential candidates take this advice from Bill Lind?