Feb 28, 2006

Let's kill some more terrorists

Rich Lowry takes exception to Bill Kristol's remark last night that “We've been trying, and our soldiers are doing terrifically, but we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out.”

Says Lowry:
This is unfair. We have been trying--with some success--to kill terrorists in Iraq for about three years, and have been constantly adjusting how we do it to find the most effective, politically shrewd tactics. Are there things we would try to do differently in retrospect? Absolutely. But pretty much every counter-insurgency I'm aware of has involved a steep learning curve, because it is an inherently difficult form of warfare and always differs according to contours of the society and culture on the ground.

I'm not of the Kristol/McCain school of thought that we never had enough troops and that we still need more. But as far as doing things differently is concerned, I think Kristol has a point. For one thing, we should have gotten rid of Sadr when we had the chance. And we were a little too cautious about Iraqi concerns in the battle of Fallujah. I feel that we should have taken the place apart following the killing of the four Americans.

A decisive, punishing attack could have saved the lives of our troops and sent a message to the insurgents that we meant business. Instead we opted for a long, drawn-out siege followed by a truce, followed by more insurgent attacks, etc., etc.

I understand the administration's desire not to alienate Iraqis who would be disposed to be on our side. The terrorists have been betting all along that the US was too weak and spineless to go after them. That was their strategy on 9/11 and that that's been their strategy in Iraq. A strategy that's been reinforced by the likes of John Murtha calling for immediate withdrawal as well as our decisions to proceed cautiously in places like Fallujah.

Given our military's capability, we could have flattened Iraq within weeks. It is to our credit that we chose not to. That said, you can't fight a war gingerly; you have to go all out. Sherman didn't march to the sea because he wanted his troops to get some aerobic exercise. He wanted the south to see what their decision to go to war meant. He wanted to devastate them. We need to devastate the terrorists in Iraq. Unfortunately, brute power is one of the few things they understand.

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