Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Defending Iraq

The creation of local defense forces to protect against attacks by Sadrists or jihadis is gaining support:

U.S. commanders have long believed the key to restoring security was the ability of Iraqi forces to hold on to areas cleared by American troops. Several senior U.S. officers have questioned whether the Iraqi police and army were capable of preventing insurgents from returning once the Americans had left.

Local defense forces would offer a way to compensate for weaknesses in the Iraqi police and army, but without careful controls, the system could backfire by promoting more militias in a country already awash in weapons.

I've called for this before. And yes, they must be supervised. Otherwise they aren't local defense forces.

But just letting locals get hit again and again is definitely backfiring by giving the Iranian-supported Shia death squads and the Syrian-supported jihadis excuse to go on killing. And it is giving our press more material to argue for defeat.

We can't solve all problems at once with an omnibus victory plan. Right now, we have to stop the killers. By all means, work to minimize the problems with this approach, but do it. Worry later about whether this solution to one problem backfires:

There are no silver bullets that let us live happily ever after with lions lying down with lambs in perfect harmony while sharing a Coke. History is a series of problems that have to be overcome. You are doing well if you manage to knock down one problem before a new one arises. And when the problem is being addressed by that very blunt instrument of military force, the chance of fine tuning the response to a problem is reduced considerably (and consider these problems and solutions when nobody is shooting--tip to Mad Minerva).

That's how life works. You solve problems as they arise.