Operation Iraqi Freedom was an unqualified success. In fact, it was far more successful than many imagined possible. In a 21-day period, the Coalition conquered Iraq, deposed Saddam Hussein and did so with very little loss of life. Since the end of large-scale combat operations, however, there has been a continuing dribble of losses to ambush, land mines, RPGs, and command-detonated explosives (both suicide and remote control.) These losses, while still low, have had the effect of reducing support for the Iraqi Occupation and encouraging the shrill left in its hatred for all things American.
Other than repeating many of the same things hes said in the past, though, President Bush has been rather quiet regarding the whole affair and the general course of the War on Terror. This gives his domestic critics - and worse - the Islamo-fascist forces fighting us in Iraq, an opening that both seem to be exploiting.
At the close of Operation Torch, the campaign in North Africa during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt held a meeting in Casablanca with British Prime Minister Churchill. They reviewed the course of the war to date and laid plans for future operations. One of the most significant items to come out of this conference was the doctrine of Unconditional Surrender. In short, the British and Americans pledged to fight Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan to the death. There has been some recent tooth-sucking regarding this declaration but such revisionism ignores the real impact of the doctrine of Unconditional Surrender on the course of military strategy in World War II.
The apex of national strategy in a time of war is to have a unified political and military objective. In 1943, this was achieved when Roosevelt and Churchill broke with tradition and directed their armed forces and committed their respective nations to the destruction of Germanys and Japans ability to make war and, indeed, to even govern themselves. Out of the doctrine of Unconditional Surrender came the strategic bombing campaign against Germany, the invasions of Italy and France, and the final link-up with Soviet forces along the Elbe River in 1945. To achieve Unconditional Surrender in the Pacific Theater the allies employed unrestricted submarine warfare, the destruction of the Japanese Navy, massive area bombing designed to cripple dispersed Japanese industries, and last but not least the use of nuclear weapons to finally end the carnage. In victory, the Americans and British proved to be magnanimous. Hirohito was allowed to remain as Emperor of Japan and billions of dollars were funneled into Germany, Japan and later Europe as a whole to help rebuild the devastation caused by the destruction of two hateful political systems.
Having completed (more or less) the first phase of the War on Terror, it is high time that the President lay out his overall objective for this war. By doing so, he can defuse many of the current arguments of the anti-American crowd and refocus his still formidable domestic political support to a concrete goal. By outlining that goal, he can also help define and identify many of the intermediate objectives needed to achieve final victory.
Vague statements about reducing the threat or bringing the terrorists to justice are not sufficient. Without an overall politically viable and militarily achievable objective, admonishments that America faces a long struggle are, at best, disquieting. Victory must be defined or it is not achievable. That definition also needs to be stated publicly. In some ways the infamous Donald Rumsfeld memo of some weeks past gives this writer hope that the Bush administration is taking steps to reach the point where we can state with certainty, This is exactly what we intend to do, and this is how we intend to do it. -- Pat Gang
As this is written, American troops and aircraft are conducting raids against terrorist hideouts and safe houses throughout Iraq. Not surprisingly, the level and number of attacks against American forces seem to have slackened. Those of us at some remove from the scene applaud the fact that U.S. Forces have gone on the offensive and quit waiting on the Saddamists and Islamo-fascists to hit our forces first. I, for one, hope this trend continues.