Sunday, August 28, 2005

What We're Doing Wrong in Iraq

Two pieces discuss the failures of the current administration, the first one particularly taking Donald Rumsfeld to task.

First, David Brooks discusses a piece in Foreign Affairs by Andrew Krepinevich, which argues that attacking insurgents periodically is ineffective. Krepinevich defends an "oil-spot" approach, whereby small areas are secured little by little, and the circle of security spreads like an oil spot. This approach requires more troops, and doesn't play to our strengths of technological superiority and nimbleness -- two characteristics of the Rumsfeld vision of how to fight wars in the 21st century.

Second, Irwin Stelzer argues for getting the domestic economy ("the great American production machine") in gear to produce more ceramic inserts for safety vests and armored vehicles. The inability to do this suggests that we are not serious about winning the war. Next, we have to try to wean ourselves off of foreign oil. This means imposing a tax on it that we can make up for by reducing regressive payroll tax. Additionally, we must help our oil companies compete with the government-subsidized ones of China. Having to go to the capital markets for financing puts our oil companies at a disadvantage and hurts their ability to compete with foreign companies when it comes to drilling in Canada and developing other untapped resources. We must put our trade policy in the service of national security when it comes to extracting concessions from the European Union on our exports, deterring China from trying to compete for energy resources "on a non-economic basis," and persuading Latin American countries to eschew Hugo Chavez's anti-Americanism. This would be economics in the service of political economy and, therefore, completely recognizable to Adam Smith.


Blogger ALH ipinions said...

Alas, neither of these pieces show sufficient regard for the intangibles that have sapped the triumphal swagger out of America's occupation in Iraq: namely, the emboldened fighting spirit that grows amongst insurgents with every kill of an American (which they are doing with increasing ease); and the fact that there is growing disaffection and waning respect amongst even those Iraqis who were happy to see Saddam topple for their American liberators. Therefore, no strategic fighting (oil-spotting or otherwise) or 21st century production of body armour will turn the tide of this war that eminent veterans like Sen. Chuck Hagel now say America is losing!

Moreover, the opportunity to abandon Rumsfeld’s video game approach and execute the Powell doctrine might’ve been lost. Because, under Powell’s plan, “shock and awe” called for overwhelming ground forces to vanquish the enemy in blitzkrieg fashion and impose a dominant and unchallengeable presence in every nook and cranny of Iraq. I’m afraid adding more troops now will only give Iraqis more targets to facilitate their initiation into the ranks of the insurgents.

America’s only hope is to do whatever is necessary to get “friendly” Arab countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to send troops to continue training and “standing up the Iraqi security forces” so that a mass and precipitous standing down of U.S. troops can begin ASAP. All else is folly...

9:16 PM  

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