The Strategy Never Went Anywhere
December 1, 2005: The president of the United States, responding to criticism about a lack of strategy in Iraq, recently spelled out the U.S. strategy in a speech at the Naval Academy. The strategy was simple. Help train police and soldiers of the elected (by a majority of the population) government. As more police and troops become available, fewer American troops will be needed to deal with rebellious minority Sunni Arabs. Eventually, American troops will be gone entirely. What's strange about this is that it has been the strategy since before Iraq was even invaded in early 2003. In fact, this has been American strategy for over a century. Such a strategy was successfully pursued in the Philippines and Cuba a century ago, and in many other places since, So what's going on here? Politics is going on here. It was in the interest of the president's opponents for it to appear that there was no strategy. It was in the interest of the media to go along with this 'there is no strategy' charade, as it made for spectacular headlines, and breathless stories of a president mired in controversy and lost.
The recent presidential speech won't change anything. The training and counter-terror operations will continue in Iraq, and opponents of the Iraq operation will continue to preach gloom and doom, and insist that there is no strategy. This bizarre situation is rarely remarked on in the media, since most journalists have bought into the fiction that 'there is no strategy', and to admit that the criticisms are based on wishful thinking, would be, at the very least, embarrassing, and definitely harmful to ones credibility.
Historians and troops in Iraq puzzle at this situation, concluding that it's all some cultural aberration that they have no control over. It should be noted, that in earlier wars of this type, and American wars in general, it was common for the opposition politicians, and journalists in general, to make the same odd claims that, 'there is no strategy', when there clearly was.
So the next time you feel inclined to tag Arabs as illogical and given to fanciful (and unprovable) beliefs, just take another look at this battle over 'where is the strategy' in the American and Western press."