It may be the first time this particular document has been released, the first time the strategy has been discussed in so much detail—but this isn't the "first time" the White House has disclosed the strategy for victory in Iraq, and the strategy isn't "new". This is something reporters really should know.
[April 14, 2004]—"President Bush Outlines the Strategy for Iraq's Transition from Dictatorship to Freedom"
1 Troop strength, now and in the future, is determined by the situation on the ground. If additional forces are needed, they will be sent. If additional resources are needed, they will be provided.
2 America's objective in Iraq is limited, and it is firm: We seek an independent, free and secure Iraq. We have set a deadline of June 30th for the transfer of sovereignty back to the Iraqi people. It is important that we meet that deadline.
3 Sovereignty requires Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own future. In Fallujah, coalition forces have suspended offensive operations, allowing members of the Iraqi Governing Council and local leaders to work on the restoration of central authority in that city.
4 The transition to sovereignty requires that we demonstrate confidence in Iraqis, and we have that confidence. The transition to sovereignty also requires an atmosphere of security, and our coalition is working to provide that security. The United States will continue taking the greatest care to prevent harm to innocent civilians; yet we will not permit the spread of chaos and violence.
5 On June 30th, Iraqi officials will assume full responsibility for the ministries of government. The transitional administrative law, including a bill of rights that is unprecedented in the Arab world, will take full effect. The United States and the coalition will establish normal diplomatic relations with the Iraqi government. An American embassy will open, and an American ambassador will be posted.
6 Iraq will hold elections for a national assembly no later than next January. The national assembly will draft a new, permanent constitution which will be presented to the Iraqi people in a national referendum held in October 2005.
7 Iraqis will elect a permanent government by December 15, 2005, which will mark the completion of Iraq's transition from dictatorship to freedom.
8 Other nations and international institutions are stepping up to their responsibilities in building a free and secure Iraq. The United States is working closely with the United Nations envoy and with Iraqis to determine the exact form of the government that will receive sovereignty on June 30th. The United Nations election assistance team is in Iraq, developing plans for next January's election. NATO is providing support for the Polish-led multinational division in Iraq and 17 of NATO's 26 members are contributing forces to maintain security.
9 Iraq's neighbors also have responsibilities to make their region more stable. President Bush is sending Deputy Secretary of State Armitage to the Middle East to discuss with these nations our common interest in a free and independent Iraq, and how they can help achieve this goal.
10 Our commitment to the success and security of Iraq will not end on June 30th. On July 1st, and beyond, our reconstruction assistance and military commitment will continue. Coalition military forces will help Iraqis to protect their government from external aggression and internal subversion.
[May 24, 2004]—"President Bush reported to the Nation on our strategy in Iraq and the specific steps we are taking to achieve our goal."
The President announced five steps in his plan to achieve freedom and democracy in Iraq. We will:
1. hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government; 2. help establish the stability and security in Iraq that democracy requires; 3. continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure; 4. encourage more international support; and 5. move toward free, national elections that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.
[snipped a much more detailed explanation of those 5 points]
Naturally—after having paid more attention to the critics claiming there's no plan than to, you know, the actual plan—everybody is acting all surprised and confused.
Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.
Granted, the White House should have done a better job at spreading this message from the very start. But it's sheer laziness and/or incompetence on the part of the media and critics to pretend that the Iraq strategy hasn't been widely available for a long time. Apparently, though, the White House wakes up every now and then to remind the media that—in between reporting that the White House has no strategy for Iraq—they ought to report the, you know, actual White House strategy for Iraq.
Perhaps the White House should also publish a Strategy For Afghanistan, just to remind the media (and the American public), that we’re still engaged in that theater as well. Iraq has overshadowed much of our success in Afghanistan.
In his speech today (see link below), President Bush subtly rebuked the NYT by quoting the portion of a letter written by fallen Marine Corporal Jeff Starr which had been selectively edited by the NYT in a story in which the NYT falsely suggested that Starr believed that he was about to die for a mistake. (See e.g., http://instapundit.com/archives/026657.php)
The portion of CPL Starr’s letter omitted by the NYT—and quoted by Bush today—makes it clear that Starr believed in his mission. Here is the excerpt from Bush’s speech that diplomatically rebuked the NYT’s deceitfulness regarding CPL Starr:
" One of those fallen heroes is a Marine corporal named Jeff Starr (ph) who was killed fighting the terrorists in Ramadi earlier this year. After he died, a letter was found on his laptop computer. Here’s what he wrote. He said, "If you’re reading this, then I’ve died in Iraq. I don’t regret going. Everybody dies but a few get to do it for something as important as freedom.
"It may seem confusing why we’re in Iraq; it’s not to me. I’m here helping these people so they can live the way we live, not to have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. Others have died for my freedom; now this is my mark.&q uot;
There’s only one way to honor the sacrifice of Corporal Starr (ph) and his fallen comrades. And that is to take up their mantle, carry on the fight and complete their mission.
We will take the fight to the terrorists. We will help the Iraqi people lay the foundations of a strong democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself.
And by laying the foundations of freedom in Iraq, we will lay the foundation of peace for generations to come. "
Here is a link (from DRUDGE) to the full text of the Bush speech:
Strategic goals are always difficult to quanticize, as they are the concrete layer of a broader plan. But see Iraq as it was just after the defeat and disbanding of its corrupt political, economic and military system and one begins to get the idea of what it takes to make a free people free.
The political goal of making a free Iraq is, perhaps, the easiest and the most difficult together. It requires that peoples that have been at odds with each other for decades or more come together and figure out how to *live* together in peace and justly for all concerned. The path to a constitution, real and viable political organizations and balancing power are real and difficult things to do. Millions of Iraqis have come to know and understand that they have something precious in the world: an actual say in how their lives will go. They are being handed a "Republic, Madame, if you can keep it."
Militarily the Iraqi army and national guard system was very corrupt and used to the ends of one man and his megalomania. That system produced nerve gas, long range rockets, and was only denied early nuclear capability by a state being targeted for destruction and stopped from long range ballistic systems by good planning and fortune. The military was on par or even below par organizationally for the typical Arab state. Keeping any portion of it around would have ensured skepticism of it by the very people that would need to control it. Short term chaos is nasty, but the goal justified it. Also, for those looking to say it should have been kept together... please point me to the organized Iraqi Army units that were not scattered to the four winds by their defeat. Show me that general in charge of things who could accept defeat and keep some semblance of order going. There was no such a one, and any case being built saying there was is pure bluster. Point that organization and person out to me, please. Where are they today? And then actually building a military apparatus that will be answerable to civilian control, a rarity in the Arab world. Actually *training* and equipping soldiers, teaching them how to fight beyond spray-n-pray and being a target. Iraqi soldiers were stunned that US military were actually expected to show marksmanship. Those now trained and retrained in the new armed forces and police in Iraq are measuring themselves not by Arab standards, but by US ones in terms of readiness and capability. Only 5% of the US armed forces are ever at the highest, most capable state of readiness, while most fall just below that. That Iraq has *any* units in so short a time capable of even reaching that and aspiring to... a true miracle. And that the new commanders understand that they are held accountable all the way to the top and then by their own government and the people of Iraq... what *do* the anti-war people want?
Economically Iraq had no banking system that was not the Saddam Hussein personal drawing account. That entire architecture had to be removed and built from the ground up. Personnel trained. Managers trained. Trustworthy individuals found and trained. Oversight organizations trained and put in place. A reliable banking system that is *not* something the State can plunder at whimsy is a damned hard thing to build. That alone would have taken years to do.
A stock market for allowing companies to freely trade and organize and expand. Anything before the war was a personal crony system for the Baathist regime and a way to launder money. It, too, must be run by trained personnel, managed and have oversight and feedback functions. That one is up and running in such a short period of time and that Iraqis can invest in their own companies in such a short period of time is a damned miracle.
Next, decayed infrastructure. The Iraqi infrastructure from sewer and water to electricity and roads needs major repairing and overhauling and, in many areas, outright replacement. The electrical grid is all 1970’s Soviet design at *best* and not maintained for 20 years. Same for the rest of it. That there is more electrical production *today* than at the height of the Saddam era, and that power demand is growing to reflect the actual beginning wealth of the Iraqi consumer are heartening things to see. This is an indicator of progress and stability as people feel free to purchase things that the State will not take from them at whimsy.
An educational system free of Baathist influence, now in place. Universities that can actually *teach* modern subjects, modern being keeping up with advances in the last 20 years. And actual and reliable facilities to teach people in, from the youngest to the oldest... amazing! The private organizations from the US have gathered out of date equipment, magazines, text books and flown them to Iraq for use and the Iraqis are stunned by what they can do with our cast-offs.
Iraq is jumping over its old telephone system and going wireless. Wireless telephone towers sprout up everywhere and cheap phones proliferate. Satellite television surpasses its standard broadcast counterparts and gives Iraqis with any means to buy a dish and television the entree to the entire world of news and events and entertainment. No longer is the press filtered by the State and the Baath party, and hundreds of independent newspapers and organizations have sprouted up in Iraq on their own. Ditto for publication of books, cds and other materials.
What *are* the measurements of success? It is not in the lives lost by the Coalition, majority US, many British, but also stalwart Poles, Australians and Japanese. The countries just getting on their feet in Eastern Europe send what they can to help and the message from them is: be stalwart, get rid of corruption, you can rule yourselves and prosper. From Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Czech and Slovak republics. The fight to help free others from oppression because they have the recent memories of being oppressed. The loss of lives is hard, make no mistake about it. Freedom is far harder and dearer.
Those who oppose the war have no plan for freedom for these peoples, no way to achieve it, build it, nourish it. To those opposed take your minds off of the petty things and give me, a simple voter, a *BETTER* choice. Put up, or shut up. Do not tear down what works, but find a way to make it work *BETTER*. If you are not up to the hard task of actually thinking about something other than your own petty ideas, not up to telling me how the future will be *BETTER* without fighting terrorism, then be quiet. It is time for the naysayers to put forward a plan to survive, prosper and enhance freedom. That is not done by making the enemies of those things bolder.
Freedom is a *process*, not amenable to timetables. What was the timetable for freedom in the US? Just when was slavery going to be done away with after the Constitution was put in place? When were women going to be recognized as having the right to vote? I would say that we are much freer than our forefathers, but not yet free... it is a process. Helping others up to freedom is a process. Fighting those who would deny us all a free life, liberty to decide on our own, freedom to worship or not as each chooses, that is a process. The strategy is to be FREE. What are *YOUR* timetables for freedom. Or should we just ’withdraw’ from life, because it is too hard and only has one, certain end?
And thus give up the trust of our parents. And our children.
Oliver writes: "Again, there is no concrete definition of victory, just vague notions of Iraq being a faraway wonderland. A far cry from defeating the Axis or destroying Al Qaeda."
For mr. Willis’ elucidation, Victory includes the destruction of the Al Qaeda and islamofascist warmaking ability and the continuation of a democratically elected Iraqi government (regardless of what form that government takes - secular or religious). That should be simple enough for even the left to get their minds around.
I do not understand how some people can have such anger about being at war... As a wife to a soldier I am not sure how people can be angered at the death of one who is there fighting for our freedoms. So many of the soldiers over seas are there because they want to be, I am ashamed of any American who does not repect those who have choosen to take a stand and fight for our country. It is an honor to live in America and to be free. After loosing people very close to me over in Iraq I am still a believer that what we are doing is the right thing. I am saddened by the lack of faith and hope that this country has and for the disrespect my fellow American’s have for our President and other political leaders of our great country who are protecting us. How dare anyone blame a single person for the way our contry and the world are today, it has taken hundreds of years for the world to be where it is today, but the changes made today can make for a better tomorrow and future for my children and yours. Thank you for those fighting for my freedom and who make the sacrifices so that I can sleep safe at night.