Saturday, January 13, 2007

Resistance is Futile?

I have argued that troop numbers have not been a reason for failing to finally win in Iraq. And I have argued that we don't need more troops (or at least not many more troops) to take down Sadr as long as we change our approach. I've worried that the impact of sending more troops in what may be seen as "one last effort" and failing to settle the violence could harm our morale at home.

But have I failed to consider the impact of more American troops on the enemy's morale?

Amir Taheri writes:

The fear that the United States, bedeviled by internecine feuds, might cut and run has been at the root of the violence since Iraq's liberation in 2003.

Jihadists have fought not because they hope to win on the battlefield, but to strengthen the antiwar lobbies in the United States and Britain. Some in the new political elite have become fence sitters because they regard the United States as a fickle power that could suddenly change course. Others have created or expanded militias, in case the United States abandons Iraq before it can defend itself against internal foes and predatory neighbors.

The new Bush plan has raised Iraqi morale to levels not known for a year. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had been dropping hints he might resign because of sheer fatigue, now says he is committed to restoring Baghdad's sobriquet of Dar al-Salaam (The Abode of Peace) by clearing it of al Qaeda and Saddamite terrorists, militias and death squads.

The uncertainty in Iraq has been one reason for the enemy's continued resistance and is the bloody price of dissent over the war.

But what if the enemy essentially made "one last effort" last year to affect our elections? What if they think that they won because of the change in the House? The Baker report was certainly viewed as a sign that the election meant our will to fight had broken. And what if the enemy sees our troops coming in and feel the reverse of the encouragement that our Iraqi friends and other victims of the violence feel at the prospect of more American troops and a renewed effort?

I already wrote that one effect of simply continuing the fight after the election might be to depress enemy morale:

I'm not trying to put a smiley face on the situation. But consider that the enemy may have worked themselves up into a supreme effort to attack and affect our elections the last several months. Having succeeded (in their minds even if not true objectively) in getting Congress to flip party control, have the enemy convinced themselves they won the war?

If so, as we continue to fight even with the opposition party controlling Congress, a sense of futility could infect the enemy and lead to elements quitting the fight.

I don't know. But it is a possibility considering that I think the Sunni Arabs are on the verge of being wiped out in Iraq and all their talk of ultimate victory is simply farcical.

Especially when one powerful Senator who opposes the war complains that our committment is"open-ended," our enemies might think their big effort failed big time.

I may have been too dismissive of the value of adding new troops to Iraq. It is something to consider.