Saturday, August 07, 2004

Spit it out, Kerry: "My plan is for a split military command in Iraq"

Kerry has said that he will reduce American troops in Iraq over four years but refused to say exactly how (registration required), resulting in the justifiable criticism that he's claiming to have a secret plan to end the war in Iraq, like Nixon claimed in 1968 to end the war in Vietnam.

Juan Cole outlines how Kerry's idea of internationalizing the military forces could work. Cole's argument seems reasonable if ambitious, but it has the proviso that the international forces replacing most US troops come under United Nations command. The idea that the UN could do a competent military operation will come under intense criticism in the US, but any suggestion that remaining US troops will come under UN command is political suicide. I think this is why Kerry isn't talking.

But what I really think could happen in a Kerry administration is that UN troops will come in, and US troops will neither control nor be controlled by UN military command - resulting in a split military command. A split command is never a great idea, but when you consider the alternatives, it's the best we've got. The commands wouldn't be operating side-by-side anyway, Iraq would be split up geographically so coordination problems would be less severe.

There's nothing wrong with Kerry saying this - he can't let knee-jerk fear of the UN run his campaign. "Trust me," his current overt plan, is not enough and deserves criticism.

Kerry advisors have done the same thing on space policy, by the way, saying "trust us" without revealing their policies.

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