Thursday, March 08, 2007

Petraeus gets it...

The Times

No military solution to Iraq, warns new US commander

It seems that no matter whom the Bush administration appoints as US commander in Iraq, sooner or later they all start asserting the same thing and Petraeus is no different. I've always believed that in a liberal democracy the executive should have a firm grip over the military and not the other way around but here I get the distinct feeling Bush should listen more and better to the guys 'out there'. These top brass aren't stupid...
The new US commander in Iraq has admitted that insurgents have intensified their attacks during the security crackdown in Baghdad, as he warned that there was no military solution to the nation’s bloody conflict.

General David Petraeus, appointed last month to oversee the White House’s fresh plan for Iraq, said that his troops were limited in what they alone could achieve and that some of the militant groups causing violence in the country would have to be engaged in political discussions.

The latest security sweep would take months, during which “sensational attacks” would continue, he said, but there had already been encouraging signs of improvement including a fall in sectarian killings.

In his first press conference since taking command, the General added he saw no immediate need to call for yet more US troops, but that the reinforcements already requested were likely to stay well past the summer months, and would be sent to areas outside Baghdad where militants were regrouping. The new US commander in Iraq has admitted that insurgents have intensified their attacks during the security crackdown in Baghdad, as he warned that there was no military solution to the nation’s bloody conflict.

No military solution, d'ya hear George? Force alone cannot achieve much more in Iraq.
Essential to ending the conflict, General Petraeus insisted, was identifying militant groups who were “reconcilable” and to bring them into the political process. “Putting Iraq above personal and sectarian agendas will be critical,” he said, warning that such negotiations would “determine in the long run the success of this effort.

“There is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq. Military action is necessary to help improve security... but it is not sufficient. There needs to be a political aspect.”

... to help improve security. Sure, but are we really doing that? Is, despite considerable manpower and awesome firepower, our presence actually improving the situation at all? This is not such an easy question to answer. I'm not in favour of a precipitous withdrawal (and I was against the war right from the day the war drums started to sound) but I really wonder whether we're making things better or actually exacerbating the situation. No-one really wants to leave the Iraqi people to their own devices but isn't that what in the end what we'll simply have to do?

The comments followed three days of unrelenting violence, in which attacks by Sunni insurgents on Shia pilgrims left more than 150 dead and dramatically increased political tensions.

Speaking inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, General Petraeus acknowledged that the nation had witnessed a particularly bloody period of insurgent attacks since coalition and Iraqi forces began their much-vaunted security sweep three weeks ago.

Despite a drop in the number of bodies found shot and dumped around the capital - from around 40 to 50 a day to single digits on some days – there are few signs of a let-up in bombings, with recent attacks including a suicide bombing at a mainly Shia university and an assassination attempt against one of Iraq’s vice presidents.

Well, call me thick-as-two-short-planks but game theory would definitely suggest that reducing violence in the Baghdad theatre will simply drive the insurgents to other areas, presumably South, where the British are slowly starting to withdraw.

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