Ed Koch's strategy
Ed Koch lambasts the New York Times and the Democratic party for their response to terrorism in general and George Bush's speech last week in particular. He makes some very good points, and the whole thing is well worth reading. He goes on to give some advice to the President on a particular strategy that he espouses:
I propose that we put the UN Security Council on notice that we will leave Iraq by the end of this year. My belief is that the UN, particularly France, Germany and Russia, knowing we will leave, will have a greater interest in maintaining peace in Iraq than we have, either a regional interest, e.g., Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan; or a commercial interest -- oil and vendor contracts with Iraq -- e.g., Germany and France. They will then understand that it is in their interest to have us remain with them proportionately providing troops and sharing the costs of war. We should provide them with these choices. Indeed, whether they come in or not as a result of our threat of withdrawal, we will be strengthened on another front. As a result of our being in Iraq to the extent that the largest number of our worldwide forces -- 149,000 American soldiers -- are tied down, we are unable to be a vital threat to North Korea, Iran and Syria. Those countries believe that, because we are in Iraq and bereft of allies, we are a paper tiger whose demands and threats can be ignored with impunity.I have to disagree with him on this. First off, I think you have to be very careful about bluffing if you aren't willing to follow through. If we follow this strategy, and they still refuse to provide meaningful support in Iraq we would be in a very bad position. We would either have to go back on our word or abandon Iraq and live with the consequences of that choice, consequences that would be horrible in my opinion. America is often seen as a feckless ally already, and abandoning Iraq would reinforce that opinion and embolden Al-Qaida immensely. Perhaps if the gains were good enough, and the likelihood of a successful bluff succeeding high enough, that would be worth the risk. Neither of those factors seem true to me though. Germany is simply not going to have a significant presence in Iraq. Politically it is impossible for them, and even if they had the will, their military is degraded to such a degree that they do not have the capability. France while marginally better off as far as capabilities, is equally unlikely to participate for political reason. Even at it's best, it would be hard pressed to match the number of effective troops that Britain is mustering. Russia's military while still numerically significant is probably unable to logistically support such a deployment. Frankly, they can't deal with Chechnya and it is unlikely they could be much help in Iraq. While the economic possibilities of Iraq might tempt Russia, and an increasingly authoritarian Putin might be able to politically work a deal like this, it is unlikely that they would be very capable and unlikely that they would even try without an equal commitment from France and Germany. Beyond those arguments though, which address the likelihood (or lack thereof) of Koch's proposal succeeding it is unclear to me that even if it would succeed that the gains would be worth it. A big part of the focus in Iraq is training the Iraqi troops. A lot of this training is being done by joint operations with American forces. Probably the biggest single thing we are trying to do is build up the Iraqi NCOs to be the backbone of the Iraqi Army. The NCO culture that our military is so dependent on is pretty much entirely absent in Russia, it has been degraded into non existence in Germany and France, well, lets just say having the French train the Iraqis to be an effective fighting force seems like a stretch. There are perhaps three countries, Britain, Australia, and Israel, that have the technology and training to 'keep up' with U.S. forces in an engagement. Our other allies are appreciated, and perform valuable work, but on a battle field they are often more trouble then help. The individual members of these other forces may be very brave and dependable, but they simply don't have to tools to work along side the modern U.S. military. Perhaps in a few years their will be a forth nation, Iraq, that can accomplish this feat. There is already one unit there that is considered 'level 1.' We won't get more level 1 Iraqi units by bringing in level 3 militaries though. For the most part, if we want to do this we have to do it ourselves.