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What the hell just happened? A four-star general named Petraeus and an ambassador-type named Crocker came to D.C. from Iraq and reported to Congress, the president, the press and the American people and said pretty much what we all have been hearing for a few weeks now — that our soldiers, once they were allowed to do their jobs, are in fact doing their jobs brilliantly and bravely, and that there is some economic success in Iraq.
However — and this is a huge however — Iraq’s government is not functioning, period, end of story. Whatever services are being provided to the Iraqi people are being done — mostly by illegal militias lke the one commanded by Muqtada al-Sadr.
I trust you all have been noticing that what is going on in Iraq is now the Petraeus plan, the Petraeus policy, the Petraeus solution — sounds like a new movie. One side of the political spectrum now uses Petraeus in every other sentence about Iraq, while the other side of the aisle cannot figure out what to do. Guess what? While this Kabuki dance is going on, our soldiers and Marines still know what to do … their damn jobs.
There is so much corruption in the Iraqi government that when retired four-star Gen. Jim Jones went there to check things out, he came back and said to disband the Ministry of the Interior and the national police. Jim Jones just retired from the Marines and was the NATO commander and arguably the best general in any service period (this from an Army guy). He never folds under pressure, he has a great combat record, and, unlike many, still wearing stars today;his Marines and his bosses both respected him. My point here is that this guy is someone we should listen to — but here, one side cherry picks one sentence of the Jones report, while the other side just plain ignores it or misquotes it.
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My question is this: What exactly are we expecting our military to do about a flawed U.S. Iraq policy, the never working Iraqi government and corruption so rampant that it makes the Russians look down right pristine? Have we learned nothing? Our great military is the best at defeating the enemy and protecting the homeland. Our great military was not designed for nation building or fighting corruption. We got into this mess in Iraq because the now fired and disgraced former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld insipidly decided that the military would be in charge of rebuilding Iraq and then would not even give the military the tools to do so.
Again, what the hell is going on? Politicians on both sides of the ever-widening isle of common sense are jumping all over every raised eyebrow or misstep. We have political organizations and newspapers calling generals betrayers, senators calling the same general a liar and congressmen saying the loss of soldiers' lives and limbs are a small price to pay. Is no one listening to the truth, the real deal?
Here is it my friends: NO MATTER WHAT OUR SOLDIERS DO, NO MATTER HOW BRAVELY THEY FIGHT, NO MATTER HOW MANY MORE OF THEM DIE OR GET BLOWN APART OR SUFFER EQUALLY DIBILITATING EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL INJURIES, THERE IS NO FIXING IRAQ BY OUTSIDERS — IT CAN ONLY BE FIXED BY IRAQ.
The very best we can do or hope for is to stabilize the raging civil war, diminish Al Qaeda, help clean out the death squads inside the national police or just disband the thing and start over and leave enough of a force to keep Iran and Syria at bay and keep training the miltiary and new police.
There is it nothing more. We won, over five years ago — we gave Iraq back to the people. It is not pretty, but it is Iraq the way they want it. This is what happens when you give people freedom … they do what they want, not what you want.
The truth is that we need more soldiers in Iraq. The truth is we do not have any more soldiers to give and the current surge runs out in April. The truth is the gesture we are reading and hearing about our “surge soldiers” coming home this summer was inevitable. Hell, it was the plan all along.
The answers in Iraq are now all political; all these maneuvers are just plain horse manure and smell like something that just dropped out of a tall cows behind. These speeches have nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. Democrats do not have it in them to un-fund the war and the Republicans lost their nerve a year ago. Unless the president is willing to really surge, that is send hundreds of U.S. government workers from such agencies as the Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of Commerce, Department of State and so on and so forth, and get in there and actually do the hard building of an honest government, unless he is willing to do that right now, I am afraid Iraq will only get worse not better.
What will happen is that the Iraqi military, like in Turkey, Thailand, Pakistan and so many other countries, will be the backup, the power behind the throne, the guarantor of the civilian government. This is not what we wanted, but it is the best we can hope for. Oh, one other thing, Iran will be even stronger than it is today. I gotta tell ya, our soldiers did not die or get blown up for such an ending — not in my book, but this is what not getting it right means.
So as the Bard said, “This was all much to do about nothing” — this week that is.
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Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.