THE HARD HAND OF WAR
In conjunction with the international security conference I attended this past weekend at the Army War College, an old grad school buddy (and retired Special Forces major) outlined his plan for counter-terrrorism in Iraq. Apparently, Ralph Peters was listening in:
We need to have the guts to give at least one terrorist haven a stern lesson as an example to the others. Fallujah is the obvious choice.
If the populace continues to harbor our enemies and the enemies of a healthy Iraqi state, we need to impose strict martial law. Instead of lavishing more development funds on the city – bribes that aren’t working – we need to cut back on electricity, ration water, restrict access to the city and organize food distribution through a ration card system. And we need to occupy the city so thickly that the inhabitants can’t step out of their front doors without bumping into an American soldier.
Don’t worry about alienating the already alienated. Make an example of them. Then see how the other cities respond. Such an experiment would be expensive. But strategic victories don’t come cheap.
Iraq’s Sunni Arabs need to master a simple equation: If you support those who kill Americans, there are penalties. If you cooperate to build a better Iraq, there are rewards. We need contrasts in Iraq between how we treat the deserving and the murderous.
Unfair to the innocent? The current situation is unfair to our soldiers and to the tens of millions of Iraqis who want to build a secure, better future. As long as the Sunni Arabs refuse to be part of the solution, we need to recognize that they’re the problem – and treat them appropriately.
I’m a little skeptical of this, not only because of the P.R. issues but because it seems counterproductive to the whole “winning their hearts and minds” mission. But these guys may be right: If these tough measures bring peace and stability much more quickly, the short-time price may well be worth it.