My dear friend, fellow Marine, and best fishing buddy keeps me updated on ground truth in Iraq. He is in Ramadi, serving as the second in command of a Government Support Team (GST) advising the Provincial Reconstruction Development Committee (PRDC) for the Governor of Al Anbar Province. He reports that the insurgent campaign of terror and intimidation has stymied progress on most reconstruction projects. The insurgents attempt to kill anyone associated with the new government in Iraq and, most egregiously, kill anyone who tries to work on reconstruction projects that are intended to provide the basic necessities to the Iraqi people--water, electricity, sewer, health, education, etc.
The problem of security in Iraq is a vicious cycle. More people are unemployed than employed, but anyone who goes to work on a project is killed. One of the only ways to make money to support a family is to join the well-financed insurgency.
From my vantage point, the center of gravity of the insurgency seems to be funding. Insurgencies need either willing popular support or funding to thrive. I cannot believe that a movement that denies the people the basics of civilization enjoys much popular support. I have to believe that, at best, the Iraqi insurgency's support is coerced by terror and intimidation. Even if the people are not actively supporting the insurgency, they are too terrorized to resist it or assist the government in resisting it.
But, if an insurgency is well-financed, it need only cow, not win the hearts of, the population in order to succeed. As an insurgency grows, its objectives are to progressively demonstrate that the current government cannot provide security and services. It matters not that the insurgents are more ruthless and ideologically extreme than the people would like. The peoples' choice becomes either no progress under the current relatively benign government, or some progress under a more ruthless and tyrannical government. Eventually the people will accept the fact that their lot will only improve (if only marginally) if the insurgency is successful in bringing down and replacing the current government.
That brings us to the matter of funding for the insurgency. The insurgents in Iraq have several means of financing their terror campaign. The first means is self-financing, either by robbery or extortion. In this they have been fairly successful, but cannot sustain themselves thereby. An aggressive security program (police and military action) can restrict this funding stream. But, even if the government's security apparatus is successful in choking off the internal funding, there remains the external funding streams.
The insurgency in Iraq receives the predominance of its financial backing from Syrian and Iranian sources, either directly from those regimes, or from sources that are sheltered by those regimes. The Baathist holdouts still in Iraq have bank accounts in Syria, flush with cash looted from government coffers while they were in power. The border with Syria is porous at best, and cash floods across it and into the hands of the Sunni-led insurgency in the west of Iraq, like a mighty river's spring flow, fanning out across the delta that is the decentralized insurgency. In the south, particularly in the predominately Shiite city of Basra, Iranian cash and advisors cross into Iraq with impunity and the insurgency there is growing daily.
Defeating an enemy requires attacking and destabilizing its center of gravity. In Iraq, this is a matter of increasing the effectiveness and integrity of the security forces, something that is demonstrably occurring, in order to restrict the insurgency's internal funding. But, that is only 1/3 of an effective attack against this insurgency's center of gravity. External support to the insurgency must be restricted as well. And that will only happen with regime change in Iran and Syria. Sorry, dear readers and doe-eyed liberals, expansion of the war on terror, to include combat campaigns in Iran and Syria, is the only truly effective course of action.
Or, we can cut and run and leave the people of the Middle East at the mercy of the mullahs and Baathists (read Nazis). Senator John Kerry is proposing legislation to do just that by year's end. Kerry cut and ran after only three months in Vietnam, with three fraudulent Purple Hearts, abandoning his own men, in order to "report for duty" with Jane Fonda. That even one person voted for him in 2004, demonstrates the hypocrisy and ideologic bankruptcy of the Democratic party. Sorry, but that was a target too tempting not to engage!
Actually, we probably ought to pull our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and put them on our own borders!