Mon Jun 13th, 2005 at 14:06:21 PDT
Military commanders on the ground in Iraq must speak the obvious truths our civilian or Pentagon leadership is incapable of saying.
A growing number of senior American military officers in Iraq have concluded that there is no long-term military solution to an insurgency that has killed thousands of Iraqis and taken a heavy toll on U.S. troops during the past two years.
Instead, officers say, the only way to end the guerrilla war is through Iraqi politics -- an arena that so far has been crippled by divisions between Shi'a Muslims, whose coalition dominated the January elections, and Sunni Muslims, who are a minority in Iraq but form the base of support for the insurgency.
"I think the more accurate way to approach this right now is to concede that ... this insurgency is not going to be settled, the terrorists and the terrorism in Iraq is not going to be settled, through military options or military operations," Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said last week, in a comment that echoes what other senior officers say. "It's going to be settled in the political process." [...]
Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, expressed similar sentiments, calling the military's efforts "the Pillsbury Doughboy idea" -- pressing the insurgency in one area only causes it to rise elsewhere.
"Like in Baghdad," Casey said during an interview with two newspaper reporters, including one from Knight Ridder, last week. "We push in Baghdad -- they're down to about less than a car bomb a day in Baghdad over the last week -- but in north-center (Iraq) ... they've gone up," he said. "The political process will be the decisive element."