Victory in Iraq

There's a very encouraging story in the NYT today about the U.S. military's drastic recalibration of counter-insurgency tactics in Iraq. It makes a huge amount of sense to me. Less direct force can mean more actual security. Public works are essential to winning over the populace. Mistreatment of detainees is no way to glean good intelligence. What you need is much closer interaction and trust with the broader population. It appears the military on the ground really have learned hard lessons from the past three years and are adapting intelligently. But what they clearly need for such an operation is many more troops. This kind of war is much more labor intensive than the ones Rumsfeld wants to wage.

I agree with Kissinger that the only exit strategy from Iraq is victory. But I cannot see such a victory coming with Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary. We are stuck with the president and veep we have, alas, for two more crucial years. And so they have to pass a simple test. If they really adopt this strategy and find ways to add many, many more troops to the endeavor, then they deserve our support. If they continue with their current course, then we have to withdraw to Kurdistan or altogether. The current situation is untenable. The military have found a way forward. We owe it to them, to Iraqis and to the next generation to give it a chance.