HUMINT: Tactical Retreat?

1. All Allied Forces, withdraw to a strategic position within Iraq, possibly on the Syrian border at the Euphrates River (at the option of the military) and set up an impregnable fortified base with electronic and aerial surveillance.

If I understand your plan, it sounds as if you want to reduce the perceived footprint of American troops on the ground in Iraq while simultaneously enhancing their effectiveness with technology. In terms of mission, we stay the course. That mission is a bipartisan on and it is to protect ourselves and their young, fragile democracy. That's not necessarily a bad idea if the resultant perception you intend to engender:

  1. has a chance at the outset
  2. satisfies everyone (at least the most important ones involved.

Your plan obviously has to satisfy multiple cultures with very different mechanics of perception. Here's a suggestion, set priorities... Whose perception matters most to the progress of Iraqi democracy? As an American, it's a logical assumption that the aggregate Iraqi perception of the occupation is priority one. But don't stop there. Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran all have regional issues. China and Russia are looking at the plan too, wondering what will come of your reformulated adventure. It must be your assumption that the fickle American public will be satisfied to hear the American body count drop and that alone will re-engineer their perception of the war.

If I were an Iraqi, I would see your move as a tactical retreat. Everytime an American jet or Blackhawk screams overhead I'd be reminded of the occupation. My frustration would mount because I would see all of this American military power hovering, watching the violence and doing nothing of consequence to quell it. My perception would be echoed in spades by Iraq's neighbors. Marry that frustration to the ongoing negotiations with Tehran - and what do you get - a validation that the United States never intended to bring democracy to Iraq, but instead always had a back room deal with the Ayatollahs of Tehran.

2. Blanket the Iraqi broadcast facilities with the following message. "Iraq now has a democratically Elected Government. Pacification and reconstruction are the responsibility of the Iraqi government. Allied Forces will provide military assistance to the Elected Government if requested, but will not otherwise interfere. The Iraqi people are free to settle disputes within the framework of their Elected Government. If the Elected Government is overthrown by violence, Allied Forces will return to smash any opposition. Further, Allied Forces will leave when the Elected Government determines there is no longer any need."

Coalition forces do not have information dominance in Iraq. In fact Iraqis prefer information from sources other than the United States. If your plan is to commandeer broadcasting facilities and block transmissions from Syria, Iran and satellite - you might be able to influence their daily function with the media. Considering that the Pentagon was lambasted for planting true stories in Iraqi newspapers, I find this second point ineffectual. If the message you intend to send out were to go out in combination will all other perceptually distorting broadcasts, maybe a version of this message would hit the mark,

  • "call 911 in case of emergency - American forces have tried to deliver a democracy that wasn't ordered - Order it and we will deliver. Otherwise, sit in the dark and in the filth of your own making. Spill each others blood until you are collectively sick and tired of the killing, and therefore stop."

The problem with that message is that it contradicts any rational effort to reduce violence. The U.S. has yet to condone or engage in indiscriminate killing. I don't think the American people can live with their sons and daughters sitting idly by watching the river of blood roll by.




  • HUMINT: Tactical Retreat?

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