This is evidence of what I told you earlier about the very important developments taking place. I have tried to draw attention to the significant change of mood of the people which started in the Anbar province with the creation of the "Anbar Salvation Council". This movement is spreading to other regions notably in Diala province. Meanwhile the enemy's ability to launch painful terrorist attacks in Baghdad is mainly due to the fact that the Security Plan is not being enforced in all areas of Baghdad with equal intensity. It is concentrated in the Eastern part (Risafa), while the Western more dangerous and terrorist infested part of Bagdad ( Al-Karkh ), is just not receiving sufficient attention, for reasons which are not altogether quite clear. It is not surprising, therefore, that car bombs and the like can be rigged and dispatched from such areas to launch the kind of attacks that we have witnessed.
Meanwhile, it is evident to me that the security plan, in so far as military strategy is concerned, consists of two essential elements: firstly to regain control of Baghdad and save the city from the sorry state that has virtually paralysed life and caused the massive exodus of the population that the world is witnessing; secondly, to hand the control to Iraqi security forces after they achieve a certain level of development. There is general awareness, by all who care about the people of Iraq that continued U.S. support of the new Order is essential. However, between the extreme course of total withdrawal and the present detailed involvement with daily operations; there is a middle way that few are talking about. Complete abandon and retreat by the Americans would indeed constitute defeat and a victory for the enemy, and would turn the tables completely and ignite a larger conflagration in the region. On the other hand the level of involvement of American and other allied foreign troops with detailed street to street policing, house searches etc. etc. should not continue indefinitely. For apart from the losses and pressures that are endured by the men and women of the MNF, some mistakes and errors can be quite counterproductive. What must be realized is that as long as the U.S. is strategically present, the enemy has no hope of achieving any of his objectives. This enemy knows this only too well; and his prime objective is to bring about this withdrawal and retreat by all means. He pins his hopes on the internal situation in the U.S., and this is his most potent weapon. Therefore most of his actions and attacks are basically publicity stunts aimed primarily at the MSM and American and western public opinion.
Thus a middle course, which seems to me a sensible alternative, is for the U.S. and allied forces to withdraw to secure bases within Iraq and concentrate on providing training, material and strategic support to the Iraqi forces. This of course, hinges on bringing up these Iraqi forces to the required level of ability. But this process will be greatly accelerated by allowing these forces to work and manage on their own more and more, and ASAP. It is like any other training task. If you are teaching somebody to swim, the sooner you can let him float on his own the quicker will he become a swimmer. But of course the trainer must keep a watchful eye.
But I think, in general, the U.S. administration strategists understand all this; however, certain regional concerns seem to interfere with their good judgment at times. For instance, too much emphasis on the Sadrists and Muqtada, loathsome as they maybe; is just deflecting attention from the immediate main threat. I have warned about that before. Indeed, one of the factors that are slowing the new security plan is the preoccupation with Sadr City and similar areas while neglecting the more dangerous hotbeds of Baghdad.
To summarize, I would say that a sensible strategy would be to aim at establishing secure and strategic presence while withdrawing from detailed involvement in day to day and street to street involvement as soon as the Iraqi forces reach sufficient strength, a process which should be accelerated with renewed vigor and in all seriousness. And I think that the present Iraqi Government and political order would be quite receptive to such a strategy; not to mention that the reduction of American and allied losses to negligible figures would go someway towards reassuring the people in the West who are justly outraged and alarmed by the casualties amongst their sons and daughters.
The soldiers of the MNF are too valuable a resource to squander in dusty side streets and alleyways.