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What's your battle plan?

CaesariniraqToday's OpEd page looks to powerbrokers past for a solution to the Iraq mess:

Adrian Goldworthy imagines doing to Iraq what Caesar did to Gaul, except the part about dividing it into three parts.

Jack Weathorford channels Genghis Khan, taking the countryside, letting the cities rot, and bringing law and order throughout the land, by killing people.

Joseph J. Ellis learns the value of inaction from the American Fabius. (That's George Washington, for you folks in the cheap seats.)

Harold Holzer twists like Honest Abe (Lincoln, that is), until he's got a winner.   

Now it's your turn. Whom would you pick as your Iraq war avatar? Alexander, Hannibal, Crazy Horse, Napoleon, Rayovac of Ceti Alpha 7? Or would you dispense with models entirely, and find some totally new tactic? Tell the world, in the comments. 


Comments () | Archives (26)

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Ian Elliott

I have nothing to add on winning the war in Iraq. I just wanted to thank you for four highly stimulating and informative articles about what Julius Caesar, George Washington, Genghis Khan and Abraham Lincoln would have done. I have rarely enjoyed reading the news as much as I did this morning on the train.

Lonnie Wilson

Your question presupposes that the Iraq War is a "win" or "lose" situation with an answer. Like many wars, the war in Iraq is dynamic, and it's character has changed. Initially, we invaded Iraq in order to remove "weapons of mass destruction." Since none were there, technically we won before we started.

Having none of that, our government's objective shifted to imposing democracy on Iraq. We've done that. It isn't working, but we've done it.

Now the objective is to end the violence. My answer is a question. If we started the violence, then why do we presume to know how to end it? The violence is now Iraqis fighting Iraqis. It sounds like a problem for the Iraqis to solve. Our troops are no more than fodder for the killing. We win by leaving Iraq to the Iraqis.


1. Tell the world that the US will pull out, peace or no peace, by X date, say 1/1/2008.
2. Meet with all surrounding middle eastern countries and tell them you are going to support, with guns & money, exactly who they don't want you to support.
3. Do the same to all warring factions within Iraq.
4. See what happens.

Chances are, they will decide to find their own solutions to their own problems.

bernard earl michals

Since we have lost a war that should never have started; pull our young
men and women HOME, and let the Iraq's foght it out, until there are
one left to fight..........


First off lets compare the differences between two thousand years ago and now. Back then wars and armies would fall based on supply lines and the occasional disease. But then again the biggest advantage that they had back then is that forced labor would be acceptable. We could beat even kill people into submission if they didn't agree with us. Today we have the burden (or promise) of leading the free world in freedom and democracy.

If you want to say that we are following in the footsteps of downtrodden empires and people who have been dead for too long for us to remember, I don't see a point. The twentieth century has changed the face of warfare, technology, human rights, medicine, etc. In fact everything about our lives today and the way we conduct anything, especially war has changed.

President Bush walked into Iraq assuming one thing with no possibility of error. He automatically assumed that the people of Iraq would rejoice at our arrival. But since those early hours in 2003, every day it seems another car bomb, suicide bomber, or a road bomb goes off to the testament against American presence. In another way of putting it, Iraq will not be won. It will not be settled as a democracy. And unlike back in those days of Alexander, Caeser, or anyone from the empirical days- we cannot force these people to do what we want them to do. Abraham Lincoln attempted to force the south to do away with slavery, and after reconstruction- his predecessors failed at rebuilding the south to its old standard of pre-civil war. That is evident in the continuing poor rural societies, poor test exams, and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan these days from the fear of Arabs blowing up something three thousand miles away.

So not much has changed in empirical attitude. Bush still believes that he can force his ideas on people and everyone will accept it when he can't even convince people at home of his beliefs. The first thing you do if you ever dig a grave too deep to get out of is that you stop digging. Tell Bush to stop digging.

But if I had to offer my opinion that will not be seriously considered is two things.
1. First off, Mao Zedong won China by convincing the rural areas to support his cause. He once said, "soldiers are the fish, the people are the water." If you want a free country, don't tell them that democracy is good for you- show them that democracy is good for them. Everyday that we have pics of Guantanamo bay and shootings of innocent civilians, it proves that we are not the answer. Just an answer for one evil over another. Treat the Iraqis with respect.
2. Divide the country. If history shows anything, religion will ALWAYS trump politics. when it comes to religious beliefs, remember extremists anywhere in the world seem to believe in the exact same idiom: I'm right, and if you don't think I'm 100 percent right, then you are 100% wrong."

These days, it seems the middle ground is no longer even a visible option.

Philip Grice

Since winning has yet to be defined, I suggest we aim for ending the war. Solution, simple. Appoint George W. Bush President (again). But this time do it in Iraq. I suspect he will quickly become a real "decider" and decide to end his stupid war very quickly.

Mr Wood

Wolferitz, Perle, Feith and the neo-con agenda of war on Iraq was written for the Israeli government back in 1998 in the paper, "Securing the Realm". Clinton had enough independence not to take the bait but El Presidente "Open Borders" Bush was a perfect puppet on a string. Now that the deed has been done and opinions set...even his protagonists rulers have turned on him. Through history, his great deed of remembrance won't be Iraq. It'll be for giving the American southwest over to the country of Mexico.

Now to get out...

1)I suppose you'll have to execute the evil-doer".
2)Finish installing the Puppet government
3)Institute training for the new Iraqi forces
4)Phase out US forces as Puppet forces replace
5)Not interfere when Iraq overthrows the Puppet regime to determine their own destiny.
6)Learn our lesson and don't invade Iran, Syria, etc..

Don Anez

Get the hell out! We have no business being there to start with. The real terrorist's are housed in Washington D.C. on Pennsylvania Ave.

Sal B

As I write this, the U.S. has handed over Saadam Hussein for execution and it's expected he will die early tomorrow morning.

Saadam's probably the only one who knew how to govern the "nation" of Iraq, brutality overcoming ethnic and religious emnity.

He's probably the only one who would know how to pull it out of the mess if we left.

The execution is one more gigantic mistake and leaves one less person to testify against Bush in a war-crimes trial.

kevin mccormick

Now that Saddam has been executed before he could face his kurdish accusers for the crime of genocide. He may go from being yesterdays problem to tomorrows martyr. Now the only one left to face his accusers for the crime of genocide is George W. Bush.


the question presupposes that the war CAN, at this point, be won.

Can an egg, dropped on the floor, still be made into breakfast?

the way to win this war is to invent a time machine, go back 4 years, and then pay closer attention to those who say invading Iraq will be a disaster.

then sit on your hands until the urge to invade iraq goes away.

Nations are too big, populations too large and too deeply committed to hating invaders, armaments too ready and too deadly, for any nation to ever "win" a war in the conventional sense.

Babu G. Ranganathan

The best thing to do is move the capital to a part of the country where the insurgency would not have any support in the killing of American troops.

If the capital and our troops were moved to a Shia dominated part of Iraq there would be nothing for the Sunni dominated insurgency to attack and the majority of Iraq would still remain governable.

The Sunni dominated region of Baghdad would be pressured to cooperate with the central government and stop supporting the insurgency in order to get aid.

Perhaps, once the insurgency is no longer a problem the capital may be moved back to Baghdad.

Babu G. Ranganathan


Win? We already lost. Do you advocate starting another?


I am an American...and I found the execution of Saddam Hussein extremely devastating. No one on this earth has the right to decide when a life ends -- regardless of how ill behaved the individual is. Today, I am ashamed to say that I am an American because my country is being perceived by the majority of the world's inhabitants as a "terrorist" nation -- the U.S. is a friend to no one, especially to those that dare defy it. I am ashamed of what our country has done to Iraq, its people and its former leader. Is this what it means to be a superpower of the world? America has many domestic issues that need resolve (i.e. healthcare, money, downsizing, etc).


the assassination of Sadam Hussein is nothing more than the consolidadtion of the "rogue state" status that America is often referred to lately...We allowed our government to waste our precious hard earned tax payer money into the war in Iraq. Who needs healthcare? Who needs publich schools? Let's bomb a country and give sweet contracts to our friends...And in the process of invading and "keeping" Iraq, we've killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. And we continue to add to that EVERY DAY. I wish someonelse, another country (like China for example) stop us. Since we, the people of the United States of America can't change things EVEN when we vote people out of office, the only thing left is the rest of the world uniting and kicking our ass into oblivion...That's what we deserve...

Susanne Modeski

Why don't rely on the most successful occupation in recent history: The Nazi occupation in France, the Netherlands, Norway and the Baltics?

Despite a not very effective, small-time resistance, these countries provided hundreds of thousands of volunteers for the SS and the Wehrmacht, a lot of their citizens became members of the Nazi party and their Nazi-backed governments — Vichy, Quiesling — had the support of big parts of the population and were even recognized by the U.S.

Why? Because they feared the enemy, the Soviet Union, even more. So, what the U.S. needs is a threat to Iraq worse than U.S. troops, like, I don't know, Iran? Israel? Pick one.

About the new U.S.puppet dictator: A lot of Nazis made a post-war career in U.S.-backed South American dictatorships such as Chile under Pinochet, also, the U.S. recruited a lot of these people, during the Operation Paperclip, for instance. Some of them must be left.

Ellen Graham

Actually, if we would have had a thinking populace instead of an overly hysterical, nationalistic one that wanted to follow our own "dear leader" we wouldn't be in this mess. So we have no one to blame but ourselves and until we hold the Democrats accountable as well as the Republicans, we will continue to be mired in this mess. We have become a nation of spectators instead of actors in OUR democracy.

gorg arbushel

First of all I do not see any reason why the great America should leave Iraq.

We are winning the war. Ask my friends Hullyburton, the Oil industry, the weapons manufacturers. They are all winning. Their pockets are getting fatter by the minute. So why should we leave Iraq.

It is only some of our solders that are being shot at. They should fell honoured to be defending their GREAT FATHER Gorg Bush their Motherland, and the DOLLAR.

Paul Wertz

Why not try this on the Iraq mess?

Because America over the past 100 years has stepped up again and again for the general good of the world, have Clinton and Bush 41 make direct contact, on behalf of the U.S., with as many other nations as possible and ask them to send 25,000 troops to Iraq as a payback to America. Put those units under UN or NATO command and set them in perimeter locations around Iraq to "cordon off" the country. Take note of those who decline to help us.

Have those units assigned to make every effort to keep outsiders, including Iran, from contributing to the foment, while permitting Iraqis inside the protective ring to slug it out. Make it clear to all that the perimeter units have their triggers cocked and that they will vaporize outsiders attempting to insert themselves or their weapons onto the Iraq scene.

(An immediate benefit of something like this would be, of course, that the U.S. could withdraw the vast majority of its own troops, being required to provide only one of the 25,000-person units. The remainder of our troops would come home and those remaining on the perimeter would suffer zero or near zero casualities.)

Send these perimeter units into inner Iraq only when international leaders of these units determine that a Darfur-like circumstance needs to be quelled for humanitarian reasons; but, always quickly pull them back to the perimeter at the first opportunity.

Permit all the oil revenue to be routed back into Iraq reconstruction of schools, hospitals and other infrastructure under the guidance of the international leaders--via private firms as appropriate. Cheneyburton need not apply.

Launch preliminary war crimes investigations here on our soil to determine if Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, Perle, Wolfowitz and the rest should be tried for war crimes for their conspiracy to cause violence and death based on misleading Bush Republican Party agenda objectives. (Among other benefits, this step would help toward reestablishing America's stature as an international leader.)

Make substantial corrections in the U.S. tax structure--including value-added and surtax measures if required--to recover as much taxpayer money as possible over coming years from the BRP war profiteers and funnel it back into U.S. reconstruction of its own jobs and schools--and back into seriously progressive energy alternatives.

And on the seventh day, rest.



I've felt sorry for you that your excellent writing on this blog has received so few replies. Now I see that sometimes it is better to receive no comments.


I would immmediately withdraw our troops and let them have thier civil war, they need to do that like we needed to have the American civil war, so they, like us, can be define as a nation (or maybe 3 nations in thier case). I care little for these people, all they understand is war and killing.


Ms. Graham above says it well. Although Bush as a dastardly war criminal should hang from the same gallows as Saddam Hussein, the ultimate responsibility for this travesty lies with the ignorant US public.

America or somewhere around half of it has become a nation of fools. We are the most despised group of hogs on this planet. We believe our own propaganda, God help us.


I am a new LEGAL immigrant to the US from India, which is a first-hand sufferer of terrorist activities supported by our neighboring countries. To me, America is the torch bearer of democracy and freedom, and leader of the free world. It is a mighty country with all options at its disposal. As such, America should have been more humble and patient. It was indeed a big mistake to start this war in Iraq, for whatever reasons. Since it has already been started, and things are going out of control obviously, it will be best to pull out our troops slowly. In the meantime we should step up diplomatic efforts throughout the middle east. America should bring students from middle east on scholarships and create a feel of secularism. I have lived 5 years in the middle east, and it is extremely difficult to spread democracy there. Any American efforts will be seen with extreme skepticism and they will resist anything that America tries to implement. That is the kind of general attitude prevailing there. Therefore we should stop acting like an enemy of Islam, which majority of Americans are not. In the era of globalization, no country can succeed alone nor can afford to act like a bully. The bitter truth is that we spend most of our resources in Iraq, where the threat was UNREAL, and there exists more REALISTIC threats out there like Iran and North Korea. Do we have money or military resources at our disposal in case we need to confront these REAL threats? Who ever are ambitious of becoming the next president have to think about it seriously in these two years left. Knowing the American people for the last 5 years, I am sure that this great country will thrive and remain strong as the world leader. I am glad that me and my family are now part of that noble mission.

W. Clarke

Our President and military chiefs cannot bring this war to a reasonable political termination. We should immediately call for a conference of all internal groups and interested states in NY under the leadership of the new UN Secretary General. The primary goal of the conference would be to develop a formula to establish security for Iraqis. There is a strong possibility that the world might decline to bail out the US, but the world cannot be uninterested in the plight of the Iraqi people. There are many details necessary to fill out this proposal, but the first step is for the President to accept that there is no reason to continue to sacrifice more soldiers and Marines just to save his place in history

Dave Hale

Simple - run away.

Manuel C. Barros

Let Iraqis take care of their own problem, even if that problem was caused by foreigners. Help them reconstruct their own country, build their own democracy, choose the way they want to live. Don't try to impose your own way. Yankees go home!!



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