Listening to the current administration's "Stay the Course" and denunciation of "Cut and Run" is getting tiresome. Being a Republican does not mean that you support every military adventure, nor does it mean that a change in tactics is not necessary to fit with the circumstances. With US troops dying every day in Iraq and the continued lawlessness, you have to wonder if we have learned anything from history.
No matter how benevolent, no one likes an occupier. Pick any foreign occupation at any time in the last couple hundred years and this fact is clear. Look at American history. After a while, the British occupation made us weary until we found a way to expel them. The people of a country need to run their own land.
Adjusting tactics. By now everyone acknowledges that US post war planning was disasterous. Sen Biden discussed this at length prior to the attack. Iraqis are not able to control their country, so the government continues to rely almost solely on the US (and UK). The logic is that if we just stay in or hell, send in more, eventually we will wear them down and they will be readied. This is clearly not working. We have bred a cycle of dependency where the democratically elected government cannot raise and effective military or police force. So we step into the breach and continue to no end. This makes no sense. Having a deadline will allow the people to know that we are leaving and will force the government to deal with the situation.
Highly leveraged force. With the billions of dollars that we have spent on equipment, material, training, we are still not able to fight decisively against a guerrilla army with cheap remote controlled hand grenades and IEDs. Why? Because they see us and we can't see them. Remember Vietnam - we couldn't find where they were coming from. Remember our own Revolutionary War - we fought behind trees and rocks. The British would march in formation, stand in an open field and shoot. Even their uniforms were designed to stand out. American troops were smart - hide behind, trees, rocks and bushes. Attack, then fall back. The British won just about battle, but kept losing people. Remember our surprise attack on the Hessians at Trenton - same deal. Guerrilla tactics. Eventually, it became too expensive for the British to continue, so they left after the one battle that the Continental Army could win. It didn't hurt that we had some help from the French.
People will not adopt democracy at the barrel of the gun, yet our administration believed that it was true. In our early history, we went through the Articles of Confederation before we signed the Constitution. Our framers added many protections for minority rights and a slow, inefficient, yet thoughful government. However, they were concerned about mob rule. They did not want uneducated people voting. Neither the Senate nor the President were directly elected. Look at other successful nations like South Korea, Japan and Germany. Democracy took time after dictatorship.
Yet we think people will go to democracy because we think it is the right thing for them. We are now missionaries who seek to push our cause by force. This is what happens when you have an unsophisticated attitude toward Foreign Affairs.
We think there is a loss of prestige if you talk to an enemy. This is silly. Nixon's opening of China was pivotal to driving a wedge between Communist China and Communist Soviet Union and is the basis our current symbiotic relationship. Even Reagan held talks with Gorbachev, leader of the "Evil Empire." Pick a country where this non-communicative stance has been taken - Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria Venezuela and you can see the negative value of the approach.
Watching what is occurring is painful - $300 billion of our treasure, countless lives, more terrorist recruits - yet no change in approach. Reagan "Cut and Ran" from Beirut, Bush I left after expelling Iraq out of Kumait. I remember Kosovo bombing called "Clinton's War" by many Republican leaders. No one thought the US could win by solely utilizing an air war. But it worked. The leadership turned over. While there is a UN and NATO force in Kosova, it is far less expensive than Iraq. $300 at 6% is $18 billion a year in interest that we and our children need to carry as a result of Bush's War.
What is wrong with declaring victory and moving on? Every country knows that if the US wanted to take action, it could. Why do we have to be responsible for cleaning up? No one could match US military power. Why should be be an occupying force? Countries like Iran, Iraq and Venezuela know that the US is bogged down. If we are freed, then some aspect of leverage will dissipate.
In summary, patriotism is one thing. Foolishness is another. Bush came to the President talking about a humble power with limited presence abroad. Now the US is protecting the world and "saving" 25 million people. For what? They don't want us. It is time to start the process.