There has really been too much to blog about in the last four days- so much I haven't been able to latch on to any one thing and get to it. But I keep on hearing this word 'options', mainly in regard to Iraq and its current situation. And the more the media and various politicians moot 'options' for Iraq, the more I fear for my sanity, my country and my sides- as in the splitting of. Lets invite Syria and Iran to get involved in the running of Iraq. Really? REALLY? You call that an option? Iran is ALREADY involved in the running of Iraq; they are committed to using the Shia militias as tools to disrupt Iraqi life, and eventually to create a Shia state in Southern Iraq, which would in effect be a province of Iran. Syria is ALSO already involved in the running of Iraq. Syria is the safe haven and launching pad for the ragtag dregs of humanity that is the foreign jihadi contingent currently becoming dreadfully unpopular in Iraq; mainly because if they can't find infidel Americans to kill, they are happy to kill Shia or local tribal elders who won't provide them with facilities or pretty much anyone who gets in their way.
My suggestions for Syria and Iraq would involve bunker-busters and F-117's over Damascus and Tehran, not an invite to a round-table chinwag.
Another mooted option is to remove US troops to some location just outside Iraq, but where they could hurry back from quick-time should the need arise. What? WHAT? Please be joking. Please. Where exactly will the US troops be? Kuwait? Jordan? Iran perhaps (if only). Boots on the ground. That is what matters. To define the enemy, to find him and to kill him. That is what war is. Anything else is just a pussified way of masking defeat.
I also hear lots of non-specific allusions in the press to 'changes of strategy' and 'changes of tactics' (I'm pretty sure most journalists are hazy about the difference between those two things). Not ONCE have I read in the mainstream media outlets about the ACTUAL real changes of tactics that the US has been persuing in Iraq, to what I hear is initially good effect. The US has moved away from large FOB's (Forward Operating Bases), which are like medieval fortresses, to COP's (Combat Operation Posts) which are small outposts but in much greater numbers. Most of the COP's have line-of-sight to the next COP, which means that the IT's (islamoterrorists) have very little wriggle room. There are also many many more road-blocks now than there were a few weeks ago. That also means the IT's are much less able to do long-range ops away from where they live. Its also interfering with the emplacement of IED's. I have seen nothing about this in the press. They just don't care how the war is being conducted tactically, nor strategically. The devil is in the detail, and journalists never seem to get around to the details.
I have my own option for Iraq: its the Roman allies option. If you read Pliny's history of Rome, you will find that the Romans had a very persuasive way of encouraging cooperation in its allies. Its what I think of as the extreme carrot and the extreme stick. If a particular city/state in the Italian peninsular was visited by the Roman legions, it was offered a choice: join Rome as an ally, and your prime persons will be given honorary Roman citizenship, Rome will trade with you in a preferred way, you will be protected by the Roman legions, and additonally receive the many prestige benefits of being an ally of Rome. Or the Roman legions will invade your city and kill everyone, before razing the walls to the ground. Most cities obligingly joined the Roman alliance.
If America is going to be an imperial power (which I wish for the benefit of huge portions of the world it would), it needs to keep its wars short and as painless as possible. I see the only problem with the Iraq war is that its still going on. With the stupendous fighting power available to America, it should have won long ago. But to win quickly, you have to use similar methods to the Romans. The choice between cooperating with America and not cooperating must be stark- and the consequences of not cooperating must be utterly intolerable. Anything else, and the US can look forward to many more of these desultory un-won wars. Ask any historian- more people die in long-protracted conflicts than in short sharp ones like the Six Day War.