Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Oil Spot

It is obvious that the situation in Iraq is unstable and not showing much improvement, if any. So it would be right if much of the current debate centered on how to fix the problem. Instead there is a debate about who is to blame for bad intelligence and who supported the war and who didn’t.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that neither side is even talking about how to fix the problem. In fact, today the Democrats in the senate lost a vote to set a timetable for pullout from Iraq. Unfortunately, not only is this a bad policy, it also makes the Democrats look bad. I was very disappointed to find that almost all of the Dems voted in favor of this, with Lieberman being one of the few exceptions.

The only policy that has come out lately that makes even a little bit of sense is to set our sights on a few major cities and stay there to keep them secure (the oil spot strategy, hat tip Slate). The idea would be that after those are secure, we could eventually spread to other cities, slowly securing the whole country. The idea is appealing because by securing a few population centers, we could support the economy and help build infrastructure. This sounds very similar to what we have going on now in Afghanistan where areas outside major population centers are not secure.

Granted, this plan isn't perfect. It could allow terrorists to set up training camps in unsecured areas of Iraq. Also, this plan (along with every other realistic plan for success) will require more troops to make it successful. This is where the idea falls apart because Bush is unlikely to ask for more troops. He and Rumsfeld are wedded to the idea of having a small, mobile military - an idea that is outdated in a world of increasing occupations and peace-keeping forces.

Whether the oil spot strategy is the right one or not, we need to start talking about success seriously. Democrats need to end the blame game once and for all.