Saturday, January 27, 2007

Strategic errors of Monumental Proportions

By Lt. General WILLIAM E. ODOM (US Army Ret.)

Text of testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,18 January 2007

The war has served primarily the interests of Iran and al Qaeda, not American interests.

As long as US forces remained engaged Iraq, not only will the military costs go up, but also the incentives will decline for other states to cooperate with Washington to find a constructive outcome. This includes not only countries contiguous to Iraq but also Russia and key American allies in Europe. In their view, we deserve the pain we are suffering for our arrogance and unilateralism.

Many critics argue that, had the invasion been done "right," such as sending in much larger forces for re-establishing security and government services, the war would have been a success. This argument is not convincing. Such actions might have delayed a civil war but could not have prevented it. Therefore, any military programs or operations having the aim of trying to reverse this reality, insisting that we can now "do it right," need to be treated with the deepest of suspicion. That includes the proposal to sponsor the breakup by creating three successor states. To do so would be to preside over the massive ethnic cleansing operations required for the successor states to be reasonably stable. Ethnic cleansing is happening in spite of the US military in Iraq, but I see no political or moral advantage for the United States to become its advocate. We are already being blamed as its facilitator.

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