interference for political gain

The talk of withdrawal from Iraq is interference. The ten year Bosnian governance intervention still remains out of the discussion but can be a useful referent. In Bosnia, there was no ‘plan’ for the integration of three factions into a functioning government. It has been a festering sore and only recently have there been US efforts towards resolving the governance issues in Bosnia.

In Iraq, and despited the many strident claims to the contrary, there has been a plan and its execution has shown evidence of success.

As General Dempsey says, we want the process to go 75 mph, but the limit on Iraqis’ ability to absorb, balanced with a sincere effort to avoid the Iraqi’s becoming dependent on Americans, means we need to go forward at 35 mph. Dempsey says any further rush would be like giving Iraqis a bass boat with a fancy fish finder, when what they really need is to be taught how to fish. Not only is the magnitude of the training program impressive, led in part by NATO, but efforts to help develop their logistics and Defense Ministry function will increasingly allow Iraqis to defend Iraq with, assuming continued progress on the political and training fronts, as General Dempsey described, a “progressive and gradual reduction in American forces over time.” [Minnesota Congressman Mark Kennedy at powerline 05nv23]

There are those who assert that this successful accomplishment on plan is noticed and that the hue and cry for pullout is an attempt to take the credit away from those who created and executed the plan. This may or may not be. What is true, however, is the example of micro-management. Rather than debate standards and goals, the effort is towards mandating specific actions.

The current administration delegates appropriately. It has set standards and goals for the military and avoided micro-management. It has kept an appropriate distinction between strategic and tactical. But the Murtha ethos for cut and run or the McCain ethos for more troops both interefere in that they attempt to override and limit the judgment of those in the field.

This was a lesson learned from Vietnam where bombing targets were decided upon in Washington. Before that was the lesson from the Battle of Britain where the distraction from destroying the British Air Corps may have saved the country. That kind of micro-management did not produce desired results.

The US has the most educated and best trained and responsible military in the world. The quality of its personnel and leadership are what set it head and shoulders above any other. The way to gain maximum advantage of this quality is to use it effectively and not second guess its judgment or capability.

The issue in Congress should be that of defining desired outcomes and delegating the path to those outcomes to those institutions it has built to execute its intent. It does need to provide oversight and supervision to make sure that those institutions are held to account for their behavior. But, if it undertakes to mandate and control direct action it becomes directly responsible and must be held to account for that interference by those who delegate to it – the US voter.

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