The above document (linked in the title) is the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."
A few comments:
"Failure is not an option."
Failure is never an 'option', it's just something that happens when goals are not achieved. The short term goal in Iraq is "making steady progress fighting terrorists [later in this same document the term Terrorist is broadened], meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions and standing up security forces."
These are the short term goals and even those have been a trial. The Democratic Institutions in Iraq are arguably untenable because of the differences between major social groups in Iraq and their past grievances; the steady progress fighting terrorists has proven to be an endless battle that we invite simply by being present in Iraq; the political milestones, such as votes, haven't improved the situation on the ground or moved Iraq towards real stability and the Iraqi security forces are notoriously undedicated and untrained.
The problem is, of course, that democracy and institutions are social contracts. We agree to them, together, as a people. A constitution has meaning insofar as it is given meaning, leaders have power that is granted TO them by those who agree to surrender that power. Even these short term goals aren't militarily achievable because they require a social agreement in Iraq that cannot be brought about from the outside, or with a gun.
The second goal is "Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential."
Now, these are simply very loose extensions of the short term goals. It assumes that, essentially, we are hand-holding a fledgling but fully legal government in Iraq and a fully trained Iraqi security force. Of course, these institutions are going to be viewed as puppets of the United States and therefore without real legitimacy to a sizeable portion of the Iraqi population. I would assume those are the same people aiding in the guerilla war against our forces, and those attack will be even more effective against a weak and struggling new government, which is propped up by imitations of US histories milestones.
I won't bother with "achieving its economic potentional" because our version of Economic potential and the rest of the worlds has always been very, very far apart. See Venezuela.
The Long Term goal is: "Iraq is peaceful, united, stable and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner of the global war on terrorism."
First of all, this is a country in the dead center of the Middle East, so the idea that it will be peaceful, united, stable and secure, because of our military, in anything less tha 100 years is simply a pipe dream. Beyond this is the frightening implication that by the time this goal is achieved, there will still be a "global war on terrorism."
In this document it is asserted that Iraq is the central battle on the war on terrorism, and that if we fail, it will embolden terrorist tactics.
The problem, of course, is that we chose to turn Iraq into this central battlefield.
We failed in this particular enterprise when we took nation-building and imperialism as our main tactic in fighting a fanatical, Islamic, guerrilla minority that has no national home and did so by making false claims about Iraq's connection to Al Queda. The fight against an ideological enemy is, of course, an ideological one. To turn it into a game of cowboys and Indians was the wrong strategy from the very beginning.
We will not lose the war on terror if we let Iraq pick up its pieces and draw down. In fact, if our force there is smaller, we may just be able to give Iraq the impression that we believe that it should have a sovereign government of its own. All we will lose is a little pride, which we seem to have no problem parting with when we torture prisoners and ignore the United Nations. We need to refocus our efforts on giving at the very least, the appearance that we know when we have made mistakes, and we want to do better.
Then, perhaps, we get on with the business of intelligence gathering, supporting democratic movements in the Middle East peacefully (Iran would be a great place to start) and working towards the sort of economic aid that could repair much of the death, resentment and violence that hunger and poverty breed.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.