David Ignatius writes a provocative article arguing how the battle in Iraq is being lost. But when you parse it for its main thesis and strip away the emotionalism, it boils down to making the soldiers less visible so as not to provoke the radicals while extolling the swift violent action of elite units in taking asymmetrical warfare to the enemy.
If we took Ignatius' idea and applied it to a major US metropolitan area - pull the normal police out and depend upon SWAT to handle things - it would not be long before such areas would descend into anarchy as others rush in to fill the power vacuum left by the absence of the regular police force. SWAT would not be able to handle the overload.
Am I comparing apples to oranges with this analogy? No. Until the local police are sorted out from the spies in the their midst's, American and Iraqi military forces are operating in the role of the regular police. To cede the neighborhood battlefield to the forces of anarchy will lead to an explosion of anarchy. General Petraeus's strategy is to deny such ascendancy to the likes of the Mahdi Army by stepping up the street presence. It is akin to the police sweeping a known bad neighborhood with extra forces to clear it of the bad elements.
Ignatius' argument falls flat because it means surrendering the streets of Baghdad to the forces of anarchy. He is endorsing Murtha's redeployment plan, a plan for defeat.
Looking in paragraph eight, we find there are people willing to thwart a faster victory over the murdering thugs for specious grounds that only lawyers could understand. The US could have severely hampered the terrorists bomb making capabilities it turns out back in 2004. But the CIA General Counsel demurred by saying they lacked authority for the operation.
You would think George Tenet would have been keen to get President Bush to sign an Executive Order allowing this just to cover his posterior while currying favor, but apparently Tenet never had any fire in his belly to fight this war and the idea languished. What was the idea? Booby-trap detonators so they would explode in the hands of the bomb-makers, thus preventing bomb attacks by winnowing the ranks of the technically competent bomb-makers.
So how many American soldiers and Iraqi civilians have died because the CIA was too chicken to carry the war to the enemy. That is another millstone around Tenet's tenure at the CIA.