Instapundit’s Glen Reynolds figures the Iraq Study Group’s conclusions will be "weak tea" and so he’s trying to drum up new ideas for the war by hosting a blog symposium on Iraq, Iran and Syria, inviting posts with emailed links over the next three days, and tossing out this idea to begin.
"Here’s just one example — outright war with Iran is unlikely and probably a bad idea. But the mullarchy that runs Iran is corrupt and unpopular. What about targeting the mullahs — personally, and more particularly in the form of their properties, their business interests both abroad and in Iraq, and their partners in such business interests. And maybe seeing if we can bribe a few while we’re at it. The goal would be to bring Iran’s interference in Iraq to a close. Is it a good idea? You tell me. And add some other ideas of your own."
Iran’s mountainous terrain would be terribly univiting to an invading army, and bombing can only accomplish so much, so outright war is probably unlikely, as you say, unless they nuke somebody and we have to nuke them in return. I like the idea of hitting the mullahs (and their figurehead president) in their pocketbooks, but supporting the Iranian opposition (particularly their trade unions) with more vigor than we apparently are doing now, would also be ideal. But I think the best idea is what is already underway, according to some of CENTCOM’s recent press releases, i.e. converting the patrolling of the big American units into a relatively small advisory effort. Call it training for the Iraqi army, if you want, but it would mainly be about providing them with American officers on the ground with access to our artillery, air support and medevac. Which is what we were doing in Vietnam by 1972, with more success than previously. True counter-insurgency operations. Only this time we must not cut off the funding. Indeed, we should adopt Josh Manchester’s idea of a huge effort to train Arabic speakers and plan to stay in Iraq for a generation or two, maintaining at least a couple of the big forward operating and air bases we’ve built, to service the advisory effort, but also to provide logisitics for whatever overt operations against Iran or Syria might be needed. If the Iraqi government demands we leave? Well, we’d cross that bridge when we got to it, although if we can get them to eliminate Mookie Sadr (or do it for them covertly), that issue would probably evaporate. As for Syria, why not financially undermine Baby Assad the same way we do the mullahs, in fact the whole Syrian Bathhist elite? We certainly have the means, and with Iraq drawn down to a 30,000 or so ground troop advisory effort, we’d again have the forces for outright war with Syria. The terrain there is very inviting.
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