What I Wanted To Hear

I trust the President, but I've been wondering what good a troop "surge" --and let's be honest, Cindy Sheehan is exactly right in calling this escalation instead-- would be without a change in rules of engagement. Therefore the little phrase at the top of the speech about changing the rules of engagement was what I most wanted to hear. The President said we' ve had too few troops and
too many restrictions on the troops we did have.
And later:
In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter these neighborhoods – and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.
(Will cite it and link the speech once the White House puts it up --hmm. White House doesn't have it, but Drudge does.)

This Michael Barone column from a few days ago echoes the recent conversation around the Wheat & Weeds dinner table. It's mostly a tribute to peaceful power transitions --a feat we take for granted, but of which we mustn't lose our awe and gratitude. But that's beside the point here. What got me nodding was this:
Since the success of the major military operations in May 2003, he has delegated power to appointees he trusts and has mostly ratified their plans. Far from micromanaging the military, he and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seem to have approved pretty much everything that Centcom head Gen. John Abizaid and the rotating military commanders in Iraq have proposed. They seem not to have taken the advice of military historian Eliot Cohen in his book "Supreme Command" that wartime commanders in chief should constantly question, probe, prod and, yes, even overrule their generals, as did Abraham Lincoln, Georges Clemenceau, Winston Churchill and David Ben Gurion.

We love our generals and thank them for their efforts, but ironically sometimes they're the last people in the world to see how to effect victory, and as Barone indicates, it's possible to under-manage them too. So: the change in generals together with whatever strong-arming we did to Maliki to get him to let us fight sounds good to me.

Other items: look closely at the section on Iran & Syria.
These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq. We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing – and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.
Well, Amen. I take it that means Israel has carte blanche to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, and will be protected with Patriot missiles. And the President expects the "moderate" Arab regimes not to freak out when that happens.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to
that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists – and a strategic threat to their survival.
Well, I'm not sure anyone who just wants the war to go away will feel encouraged, but I do.