2007-06-27

Morning Report: June 27, 2007

Tony Blair steps down. Tony Blair officially resigned as Britain's Prime Minister today. to be succeeded by Gordon Brown. Telegraph: 'Tony Blair has submitted his resignation to the Queen after receiving an unprecedented standing ovation from MPs at the end of his final Prime Minister's questions. Labour MPs rose and applauded after the 30-minute session, which saw Mr Blair cracking jokes - even admitting he had received his P45. Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, was in tears.'

On the surge. David Kilcullen at Small Wars Journal: 'On June 15th we kicked off a major series of division-sized operations in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. As General Odierno said, we have finished the build-up phase and are now beginning the actual “surge of operations”.' Kilcullen explains:
These operations are qualitatively different from what we have done before. Our concept is to knock over several insurgent safe havens simultaneously, in order to prevent terrorists relocating their infrastructure from one to another, and to create an operational synergy between what we're doing in Baghdad and what's happening outside. Unlike on previous occasions, we don't plan to leave these areas once they’re secured. These ops will run over months, and the key activity is to stand up viable local security forces in partnership with Iraqi Army and Police, as well as political and economic programs, to permanently secure them. The really decisive activity will be police work, registration of the population and counterintelligence in these areas, to comb out the insurgent sleeper cells and political cells that have "gone quiet" as we moved in, but which will try to survive through the op and emerge later. This will take operational patience, and it will be intelligence-led, and Iraqi government-led. It will probably not make the news (the really important stuff rarely does) but it will be the truly decisive action.

Kilcullen wants you to understand that the point here is not to expend a lot of resources chasing terrorists all over Iraq. Been there, done that. The focus now is to build security for the civilian population.
The "terrain" we are clearing is human terrain, not physical terrain. It is about marginalizing al Qa’ida, Shi’a extremist militias, and the other terrorist groups from the population they prey on. This is why claims that “80% of AQ leadership have fled” don’t overly disturb us: the aim is not to kill every last AQ leader, but rather to drive them off the population and keep them off, so that we can work with the community to prevent their return.

The Belmont Club has more:
There is a very strong streak of impatience in politics. The very difficult is expected to be accomplished in two years. The impossible may take a little longer. Fortunately, real problems defy media impatience and society eventually shifts mental gears to deal with it. This happened with the AIDs crisis. Perhaps some day it will happen in the confrontation with the networked global insurgency. In the first years of the AIDs crisis there was great impatience and desperates hopes among sufferers for a "cure" round the corner. Something out of Harvard or Johns Hopkins. Interferon, maybe. With the passage of years came the acceptance that there was probably no single forthcoming "cure" Yet this realization was tempered by the gradual realization that while AIDs defied -- and still defies -- a Silver Bullet solution, real and important victories were constantly being won against the disease. A drug here, a drug there. Little by little the fearsome epidemic, which some actually believed would destroy the human race in the early frantic years, became gradually less terrifying. Today there are hopes that AIDs may someday become a serious, but chronic disease. Something that can be managed like hypertension. AIDs still kills, but we have a handle on it; and it is not the end of the world.

David Kilcullen, in explaining operations in Iraq, seems to be mentally at that point already. He does not categorically say 'we are going to win'. He says 'we are making progress here' and 'things are working there'. He is encouraged without being certain. He sees the political and the lead bullets strike home and knows things are not hopeless; that the enemy, like us, are simply men. ...


Commentary. What applies on the physical battlefield also applies in the war of minds: patience, incremental progress, a focus on achievable goals, and a results-oriented approach are the keys to victory. As more and more ordinary citizens inform themselves of the facts and issues, and as the lies and fabrications of the journalistic establishment are exposed, the ground is being prepared for the final defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians. Victory is ours - but only if we want it.