Tacitus looks back through history and examines successful counter-insurgency operations. It has been done before, but it will take a long time. In the short term, we do need more troops, but we also have the rebels in a position where they’re being killed in large numbers rather than being able to take potshots at troops. Strategically, this was a major mistake for the Ba’athist dead-enders and their foreign allies. By directly attacking the US, they ensured that they would be on the wrong end of a major offensive campaign – just like Tet, the results are highly one-sided.
Still, from the beginning it’s been clear that Iraq would not be a short-term mission. Even once the Iraqi Governing Council officially takes the reigns, we will still need to have a significant presence in Iraq to root out the dead-enders and get the Iraqi Army and police forces into full capability, something that will take years.
We are still in Germany and South Korea five decades or more after the original conflicts that brought us there. We may be in Iraq until the 2050s, although as guests rather than as a substitute for native Iraqi forces. Certainly we would very much like to have an Iraqi base of operations to allow us to project power into the Middle East. Certainly the Iraqis would like to have us there, as it would be both a politically stabilizing force as well as an economic boom.
One thing is certain – we cannot afford to lose this one. We cannot afford to pull out, and we cannot afford to relent. This is World War III, a conflict that may be fought in largely in Iraq, but has global ramifications. We cannot afford to allow the spread of Islamofascism to continue unchecked, and we must be willing to do what it takes to prevent that from happening. Iraq is the centerpiece in the war on terrorism, and fighting in Iraq is still vastly preferable to a global game of whack-the-terrorist.