As the President of the United States prepares to announce a new plan and change of direction for US operations in Iraq, the Center for Threat Awareness has produced a report, Achieving Victory in Iraq, complete with forty recommendations. While the report offers a comprehensive review of the situation in Iraq it is chiefly in response to the December 2006 Iraq Study Group report. In many instances, we agree with the Iraq Study Group, primarily in their assessment of the situation in Iraq. While we do not disagree with every recommendation they have made - as reflected in our report - we clearly see a fundamentally different set of guiding principles and objectives.
The decision to take on the task of creating Achieving Victory In Iraq was inspired also in part by our perception of a lack of a comprehensive alternative response to its various observations and recommendations. While there was no small amount of public commentary and criticism of the Iraq Study Group, much of the criticism - right as it may or may not have been - lacked an alternative recommendation on specifically challenged points. Further, we believed that there were no in-depth comprehensive alternatives offered to the body of work as a whole.
Finding ourselves - authors Marvin Hutchens, Steve Schippert and Michael Tanji - in regular and detailed conversations regarding point by point agreement or disagreement and not satisfied with criticism without alternative, we determined that we should offer sensible and reasoned recommendations. Likewise, believing that there is value to the American public in a formal and comprehensive response, we took the initiative and began the process of organizing and formalizing a full set of recommendations.
Our approach, perspective and resulting recommendations are distinctly and unapologetically forward-leaning in comparison to that of the Iraq Study Group. Perhaps that is most evident in the opening paragraph to Section II: Achieving Victory: Securing Peace and Stability in Iraq.
“We do not seek progress, managed or contained violence, equilibrium or the status quo in Iraq. Our aim is victory. We must defeat our enemies and the enemies of a strong and unified Iraq on the battlefields and in the streets of Iraq in order to free the Iraqi people and government of the concerns that prevent them from addressing issues of national reconciliation and recovery.”
We openly recognize that the Center for Threat Awareness report, Achieving Victory in Iraq, is not without weaknesses. We do not pretend to be - nor do we seek to be perceived as - experts in areas where we have insufficient expertise. We have acknowledged this openly in the document and avoided relevant areas for this reason, seeking to preserve our integrity rather than inflate our perceived expertise. Yet, we believe that when guided by principle, the expertise required to determine our nations policies are more availed than is commonly accepted.
As well, we have stated in our Letter From the Authors, as concerned citizens, we would have preferred to have had more time and greater resources to devote to the examination of these issues.
We hope that the produced report can be seen for both its value in contributing to understanding and forming effective policy that overtly seeks victory in Iraq and in the greater conflict. We also hope that it can serve as an example of what can be accomplished by concerned citizens - outside the Pentagon and removed from Washington - when we take the initiative to contribute to our nation’s war effort. In this regard, we welcome your feedback, other similar efforts and look forward to the discussion leading up to and following the President’s upcoming announcement.