Calling all military: Critique this Iraq plan

The author, Maj. Eric Egland, is soliciting comments on it from people who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. His e-mail address is at the end of the piece. I like his bottom-up, wisdom-of-crowds approach; what conservative/blogger/conservative blogger worth his salt wouldn’t?

Seems like it would take a long time to implement, though:

THE U.S. MUST win in Iraq. This can be achieved sooner by making these six key course corrections. The top U.S. Army general recently announced plans to have the same number of troops in Iraq until at least 2010, so there is time to change regardless of what happens in the next congress, and change is urgently needed as public figures show October was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq.

The 2010 target was announced before the election, though. Even if the GOP had won, a full-force commitment for four more years when 60% of the public is already sour on the war simply isn’t realistic. If Egland’s plan were put in place immediately and showed dramatic results in very short order, then there might be a little play in the joints re: withdrawal dates. But how likely is that?

Egland’s plan is brick and mortar. An alternate plan by an unnamed retired senior officer was published tonight in Time magazine. It has a better grasp, I think, of what the time frame here really is and what our goals actually are: one year to strengthen the government as best we can and hammer the hell out of AQ and the Shiite militias. If everything works out, we start pulling out next winter having left Maliki and company with a fighting chance. If it doesn’t, we start pulling out next winter anyway having lost the war.

Call it the drywall plan.

Is the knot of killers in Iraq so thick that it’s become impossible to untangle, though? Somewhere between Hobbes’s state of nature and Ethniklashistan lies Baghdad:

“No single narrative is sufficient to explain all the violence we see in Iraq today,” Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the CIA director, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

Attempting to describe the enemy, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, the DIA director, listed “Iraqi nationalists, ex-Baathists, former military, angry Sunni, Jihadists, foreign fighters and al-Qaeda,” who create an “overlapping, complex and multi-polar Sunni insurgent and terrorist environment.” He added that “Shia militias and Shia militants, some Kurdish pesh merga, and extensive criminal activity further contribute to violence, instability and insecurity.”

And on that note, over to you, military readers. Feel free to post your e-mails to Egland in the comments here if you like. My parting wish is that whatever happens, one way or another, we don’t leave until this guy is dead. Hopefully in as painful a manner as possible.

Update: Moran hit it on the head this morning, so I’m obliged to quote:

National polity has been shattered. It is doubtful whether even the 50,000 troops recommended by many observers – including Senator McCain – could restore any semblance of peace and security in the 4-6 months that General Abizaid says we have before the situation becomes irreversible. Unless we are willing to stay for 5-10 years with this level of commitment and expenditure of blood and treasure, I can’t see how the faith of the Iraqi people in government, in law and order, in civil society can be re-established.

I doubt whether there would be very much support in America for that kind of commitment. Especially since there is absolutely no guarantee that Iraq won’t devolve into a jungle anyway.

There is still good that can be done that has a small chance of improving the situation. Going after the militias with those additional troops would at least solve one of those macro problems that are bedeviling the Iraqi government.

Update: Krauthammer: “We have given the Iraqis a republic, and they do not appear able to keep it.” He blames Saddam.

Update: Those 20,000 troops? We might need them just to replace the coalition forces that could be heading home soon.