Clifford May has an excellent article about the Surge. It begins with the doomsday scenarios the anti-War people in politics and the press spelled out before the Surge happened, and then points that the more honest amongst them are admitting that the Surge is working. What makes May’s article very good is that it explains why the Surge is working. It’s not just more bodies being thrown at a failed military tactic. Instead, under General Petraeus’ skilled leadership, it’s an entirely new approach, bolstered by more military personnel:
Because of scant media interest, most Americans don’t even realize that the so-called surge is a new and different strategy, implemented by General Petraeus because the approach of his predecessors — not least former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield — failed.
Rumsfeld wanted a “light footprint” in Iraq, not an intrusive military occupation. He thought more troops would mean more targets for our enemies. He pushed hard for Iraqis to provide their own security as quickly as possible.
Under the Rumsfeld strategy, most American forces spent most of their time in Forward Operating Bases (FOBs). Cut off from the local population, they received little intelligence. And since they were providing security for themselves but not for Iraqis, Iraqis turned to sectarian militias which grew larger, stronger, and more violent.
Meanwhile, al Qaeda in Iraq deployed suicide-bombers to mass-murder civilians as a way to stoke sectarian violence. Al Qaeda calculated — not unreasonably — that Americans would withdraw rather than remain in the crossfire of a civil war.
General Petraeus, the Army’s top counterinsurgency expert, decided it was time for a different approach. He moved troops out of the FOBs and put them into Iraqi cities and villages where they have been providing security for Iraqis — who have shown their appreciation by providing intelligence that spy satellites can’t retrieve.
He is targeting al Qaeda, as well as the Shia militias trained, funded and equipped by Tehran — their cells, strongholds, and bomb factories. And with added troop strength, he has been able to hold the neighborhoods he has cleared.
It also is true that most traditional Iraqi leaders have been repelled by al Qaeda’s brutality and extremism. Americans, by contrast, have shown the local sheiks respect, while training and partnering with Iraqis — making it clear they would like nothing better than to see Iraqis take charge of their own security as soon as they are ready.
On top of all that, U.S. soldiers have been doubling as diplomats: helping to reconcile Sunni and Shia tribal groups, and even bringing insurgents — those not affiliated with al Qaeda or Tehran — into line with the Iraqi government.
Petraeus’ leadership genius, which the media refuses to acknowledge, is that he’s not insane. And by insane I mean the definition attributed to Einstein that views insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Petraeus is doing something new, and he’s getting new results — and good ones too.
It helps, of course, that General Petraeus is a counterinsurgency expert. As an aside, that’s why I’m pleased about Bibi Netanyahu’s resurgent political career. Whether people like him or hate him, he’s long been understood to be Israel’s top counter terrorist thinker.
Rudy Giuliani is also showing signs of that same clear eyed realism in dealing with terrorists, a realism untainted by the multiculturists’ bizarre and dangerous mix of romanticism, condescension and self-loathing when it comes to viewing Islamists. Here’s Caroline Glick, that astute observer of Islamist terrorism, talking about Giuliani’s latest foreign policy pronouncement:
The strongest voices calling for the US to apply the same policies toward the Palestinians that it applies to terror forces throughout the world are heard in President George W. Bush’s own Republican Party. Former New York mayor and Republican presidential frontrunner Rudolph Giuliani has been the strongest Republican voice calling for change.
In an article published this week in Foreign Affairs, Giuliani supported Bush’s view that the aim of the US war is to destroy both the global terrorist movement and its radical Islamic-fascist ideology. But Giuliani expressed deep misgivings regarding Bush’s actual policies, which he believes have been inconsistent and insufficiently strong.
Giuliani makes his call for consistency most clearly in his discussion of the Palestinians and Israel. In his words: “Too much emphasis has been placed on brokering negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians – negotiations that bring up the same issues again and again. It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism.”
He added, “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is a permanent feature of our foreign policy.”
By so couching his argument, Giuliani made clear that, from his perspective, there is no difference between the jihad against Israel and the jihad throughout the world. As a result, in his view, the US should align its policy toward the Palestinians with its policy against jihad everywhere in the world.
Glick’s praise for Giuliani, who is the Republican candidate who has been most recent and most explicit in his foreign policy stance should not be understood to cut out the other Republican candidates. As far as Glick is concerned, Romney and Thompson get it too:
While Giuliani has been the most candid in his critique of Bush’s policy toward the Palestinians, his views are not out of sync with the general tenor of the Republican presidential debate. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former senator Fred Thompson have similarly made clear that they believe the US must be more forthright and consistent in fighting the war.
Overall, as the Islamists continue to overreach themselves, getting by force what they could simply have had handed to them in time through demographic growth and Western cultural suicide, it seems as if leaders are emerging who understand the issues and who have reasonable tactics and strategies for addressing a problem long present and finally recognized.