July 10, 2006

Senator Jack Reed on the Situation Iraq…

Carroll Andrew Morse

…or “Reasons to trust your local paper, and not the national coverage”.

The emphasis in the national coverage of Senator Jack Reed’s report following his recent trip to Iraq is very different from the emphasis in the local coverage. The national report (from Reuters) creates the impression that the only issue important to Senator Reed is when the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq will begin…

Iraqi leaders and U.S. military commanders there anticipate that American troops could start withdrawing this year, two Democratic U.S. senators who favor such a move said on Saturday after a visit to Iraq.

"The commanders on the ground, and Iraq's political leaders, suggest that it is appropriate to begin a redeployment of American forces as early as some time this year," said Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island....

Reed said that among the U.S. military and the leaders of Iraq's government there was a growing recognition that an indefinite stay by U.S. forces would produce as many problems as benefits.

By discussing only a withdrawal timetable and his speculation that U.S. forces "produce as many problems as benefits", Reuters makes Senator Reed sound like an unreconstructed McGovernite who believes the answer to any foreign policy problem is for the United States to walk away.

But contrary to the Reuters report, Senator Reed doesn't believe that the size of the American military presence is the only issue that merits serious discussion with respect to Iraq. According to John E. Mulligan in Sunday's Projo, Senator Reed believes that the major obstacle impeding the reconstruction of Iraq is an inadequate American civilian presence…

Reed and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned that economic and political rebuilding efforts in Iraq still lag dangerously behind the military progress that, in their view, makes significant U.S. troop reductions advisable….

In contrast to the strides taken on the military front, Reed said, "We haven't summoned the resources, will and effort to begin to address the economic problems, the political problems, the social problems" that continue to darken prospects for a stable Iraq.

Senators Reed and Biden are not the first to make this observation. Here are some of the key findings of retired General Barry McCaffrey who made the same essential observation after touring Iraq in April of this year…
The U.S. Inter-Agency Support for our strategy in Iraq is grossly inadequate….The State Department actually cannot direct assignment of their officers to serve in Iraq. State frequently cannot staff essential assignments such as the new [Provincial Reconstruction Teams] which have the potential to produce such huge impact in Iraq. The bottom line is that only the CIA and the U.S. Armed Forces are at war. This situation cries out for remedy….

It would be misguided policy to fail to achieve our political objective after a $400 billion war because we refused to sustain the requirement to build a viable economic state. Unemployment is a bigger enemy then the AIF. It is my view that we will fail to achieve our political-military objectives in the coming 24 months if we do not continue economic support on the order of $5-10 billion per year. This is far, far less than the cost of fighting these people.

To make progress in Iraq and to improve the effectiveness of American foreign policy in general, much more than a debate about politically motivated timetables for withdrawing troops, this country needs a debate about why America's civilian government bureaucracies seem unable to effectively support America's foreign-policy interests.

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"an unreconstructed mcgovernite..."

talk about hitting the nail on the head! I feel like I'm reading NRO!

while I respect Senator Reed's opinions (especially on military affairs), i sincerely disagree with his recent statements on iraq.

good work, CAM!

Posted by: johnb at July 10, 2006 9:13 PM