A War, or Un-War?

Experts Peña and Pham square off on Iraq.

Issue: Sept-Oct 2006

Dear Dr. Pham:

In the spirit of constructive debate to advance American foreign policy to navigate "through the shoals of the coming years" and "safely steer the ship of state", I'd like to address some of your comments in your review of my book Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism. (See "Some Unconventional Wisdom" in the Sep/Oct 2006 issue of The National Interest, hyperlink: http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=11930)

First, you write that I fail "to address the reality with which policymakers have to deal: regardless of how it became that way, Iraq today is the central front in the War on Terror." What you're really saying is that you don't agree with my analysis that Iraq is not the central front in the un-war. Fair enough. But that's not the same thing as me not addressing the issue. In fact, Chapter 2 "A Dangerous Distraction" makes the case for why Iraq is not the central front. And the latter part of Chapter 3 "Clearing the Decks for War" addresses why I believe it is in our strategic interests for the un-war to exit Iraq sooner rather than later. You believe that we need to win in Iraq. I believe that, at best, we might achieve a tactical victory but that ultimately trying to prevail in Iraq is a recipe for strategic defeat vis-à-vis the real enemy: Al-Qaeda and radical Islam.

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