A plan for victory in Iraq

If you’re bored with reading what other people say about Wesley Clark’s ideas about national security, try reading what Clark says. He explains not only why he thought the invasion of Iraq a bad idea, but also what he’d plan to do from here, and why.

Kevin Drum points out that the new Bush plan for Iraq — a quick transfer of sovereignty — has some strong resemblances to Clark’s speech, made a week ago. The major differences, according to Kevin: Clark wants a more democratic process within Iraq — with a governing council elected by locally the elected governing bodies Clark says are already in place — and a greater role for other countries in the reconstruction process.

There’s another big difference Kevin doesn’t mention: Clark is talking, albeit cautiously, about increasing force levels. Clark also proposes leaving the search for WMDs — which is now more a public-relations question than a military necessity — other countries, and focusing our intelligence capabilities on, as he puts it, “find the people who are killing our soldiers.”

Operationally, I have no idea whether any of this will work. In political terms, it may be more hawkish than is really wise for someone trying for the Democratic nomination, though it seems likely to be a dead-bang winner in the general should Clark get that far.

But it’s worth reading the speech through, just to remember how good it felt when we head leaders who spoke to us as if we were grown-ups, capable of understanding grown-up choices. It’s an eminently serious speech, and a rousing one at the same time.

If anyone can point me to a serious critique of Clark’s plan — as opposed to a sneer — I’ll happily link to it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com