Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lugar's Iraq Strategy - A Must Read

Richard Lugar, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, published an outstanding article in the Washington Post today. Lugar lists numerous critical points in this essay, and I encourage every person reading this to take 5 -10 minutes to read the entire article.

It is a rare example of prominent politician offering specific tactical suggestions while also considering the greater strategic issues in the region.

Because Lugar is also a Republican, there is a glimmer of hope that his analysis will get some attention inside the White House.

I am going to leave his excellent description of the larger strategic situation for you to read, but I want to cite his tactical suggestions here because they are the only effective description that I am aware of for the "troop redeployment" many politicians cite as their strategy today. Lugar's plan cannot, with any honesty whatsoever, be cast as a "cut and run" policy, yet it would largely remove American forces from the sectarian portion of the conflict. It also lists with appealing specificity what U.S. troops would and would not be tasked with achieving.

Even as the president's Baghdad strategy goes forward, we need to plan for
a potent redeployment of U.S. forces in the region to defend oil assets, target
terrorist enclaves, deter adventurism by Iran and provide a buffer against
regional sectarian conflict. In the best case, we could supplement bases in
the Middle East with troops stationed outside urban areas in Iraq. Such a
redeployment would allow us to continue training Iraqi troops and delivering
economic assistance, but it would not require us to interpose ourselves
between Iraqi sectarian factions.

Concise, specific, and both tactical and strategic in its conception. I am certain there are opportunities to improve this plan, but it is the best one out of the many that I have read four years into this war.

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