Originally created 12/21/06

How about a policy of winning?

President Bush is looking for a new strategy in Iraq.

How about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"?

As in, "Don't ask anyone's permission to rout the enemy, don't ask forgiveness for having done so, and don't tell them when or where we're coming."

We're relieved the president is now open to expanding the active-duty military over the long term. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says "the active Army is about broken," and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker has said the active-duty force "will break" under its current strain without additional help.

Meanwhile, National Guard forces across the country also are straining under their increased deployments and heightened roles in national defense.

We also believe sending more troops to Iraq may be necessary - and, indeed, there is a buzz in Washington right now about approving a "troop surge."

But under one condition:

Let them fight. Otherwise, we're sending in sitting ducks.

You can double the number of your players on a football field - but if your quarterback merely takes the snap and falls to his knee, what have you done?

Likewise, sending more U.S. troops to Iraq will be foolhardy if we continue the current policy of "not winning, not losing" by "not fighting."

We once had the chance to rout radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and either capture or kill him. We didn't. Later, we had his merry band isolated and controlled with checkpoints. We backed off that, too.

Now, al-Sadr is a member of the ruling class and may be untouchable - and the Pentagon reports that al-Sadr's forces have surpassed even al-Qaida as the gravest danger in Iraq and its biggest obstacle to security and stability.

Al-Sadr, in short, is a mess of our own making.

Because we didn't choose to rout his forces.

If we've made any mistakes in Iraq - and we've made some doozies - the biggest mistake we've made is not actually waging war in the middle of a war. Too worried about religious, ethnic, political and news media sensibilities, we've let an oozing wound fester until the limb is nearly unsalvageable.

Mr. President, don't send one more soldier over there unless the mission is clear, and his or her ability to do what's necessary to win is uncompromised.


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