Saturday, August 14, 2004

Kaplan on Iraq

From Josh Marshall at TPM:

[. . .]

The key sentence is this one: "the U.S. military—the only force in Iraq remotely capable of keeping the country from falling apart—finds itself in a maddening situation where tactical victories yield strategic setbacks."

[. . .]

And the key is Kaplan's point about tactical victories and strategic setbacks. Yet, I think we can go further and say that these don't 'yield' strategic setbacks, they are strategic setbacks in and of themselves.

Winning a pitched battle against Shi'a insurgents in the heart of one of Shi'a Islam's holiest sites (and by this I mean not just the Imam Ali Mosque, but the cemetery near it and the area immediately surrounding it) is itself a defeat for us.

(Here is a piece just out from the Post that illustrates the bind into which we've sunk the Army and Marines.)

As the shrewdest thinkers on the left and the right concede on this issue, our true strategic challenges in the Muslim Middle East are not conventional military ones, but hearts-and-minds challenges. . .

[. . .]

Entire post.

Personally, I think the time for winning the hearts and minds has long passed, the opportunity squandered.

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