Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Iraq War/Iran War: "We need to calculate more, and panic less"

That's the closing line of this article by Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS): Managing Iraq 02/05/07.

Alterman has come up with a new euphemism for the management of defeat that the US is now involved in with the Iraq War, which Cheney and Bush show signs of wanting to expand into war with Iran, too. He wants to call it being "trapped in a tie", a "grey zone" that is something between winning and losing. I don't look for that formulation to catch on.

But he has some worthwhile things to say. On the results of the "tie" in the Iraq War, he writes:

Perhaps the most difficult part of our management task will be resurrecting the U.S. role in the Middle East. For decades, the United States was rarely loved in this region, but it was respected and feared. We were the world’s sole superpower, and the most powerful military force the world had ever known. The stumbling in Iraq — the unforced errors of peacekeeping and reconstruction, the scandal of Abu Ghreib, and the persistent inability to defeat a shadowy insurgency — has diminished that respect and curtailed that fear.
And he gives a good, brief sketch of likely Iranian strategic calculations in the current situation. He writes, "Iran will seek to undermine U.S. goals in Iraq as long as the Iranian government is convinced the United States seeks to use
Iraq to undermine [Iran]."

And even if his "trapped in a tie" formulation isn't very useful, he's correct when he writes, "Our national attachment to the notion of victory has served us well in war, but it will not serve us well in Iraq."

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