TIME's Aparisim Ghosh reports that General Peter Pace belatedly has convened a group of young officers to answer the question: Why are there almost as many U.S. troops in Iraq now as there were two years ago when, in the interim, more than 300,000 Iraqi security forces have been recruited and trained?
I provided one answer to this question two years ago, when I wrote about loyalist paramilitaries (October 2004). The answer involved two elements. The first was outsourcing security, particularly in the British controlled south and Baghdad to "loyalist" paramilitaries. The second was incorporating paramilitary members into the new Iraqi security forces, particularly since they were more willing to fight than the general population. In classic US fashion (a reflection of the paucity of strategic thinking in our general staff), training to the numbers (quantity) and the early effectiveness of the unit in a fire fight (expediency) was deemed more important than loyalty of the unit to the government. The long term implications were not considered.
The result is that over the last two years the US military has actually created an environment that is conducive to a bloody and chaotic civil war. By partnering with paramilitaries, we accelerated the development of those forces that would take the war to the Sunnis.What can we do? Nothing but leave. We can neither expect the leadership of US military to develop sound strategies for mitigating the damage done, nor can we reverse drivers of chaos that have been initiated over the last three years. This chaotic system is now running smoothly under the power of its own internal dynamics and continued intervention will only continue to worsen it. Withdrawal is the only option. The faster the better (although how to do this without tanking the global oil system is still yet to be determined).