Effective U.S. policy on Iraq requires a standard of success

In your April 9 article “The next president grills Gen. Petraeus on Iraq war” you note Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) assessment that the Iraq war a “strategic blunder” but fail to highlight his most important contribution to the day’s congressional hearing: the call for a clear standard of success in Iraq.

Obama was correct to call for a definitive benchmark or, as he put it, an “end point” to establish when the mission is complete in Iraq.  Clear and attainable political objectives are a prerequisite to an effective military campaign.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s reluctance to establish concrete measures of progress, coupled with his inclination to engage in a continuous campaign to degrade and diminish the capacity of those seeking to use Iraq as a base for terrorist violence, is a troubling combination. It is a plan with no end. Without a clear sense of what constitutes victory, how will the U.S. know when to draw down its forces?

Talk of “progress” notwithstanding, efforts to deny sanctuary and diminish the terrorist threat have been lackluster. Consider this: Between 2001 and 2004, as the Bush administration reported progress in the war on terror, my own quantitative analysis of terrorist incidents provided data that U.S. counterterrorism strategies were escalating the frequency and lethality of attacks through a policy of preemptive military action. In fact, during the period from the onset of the war on terror in October 2001 through December 2004, there was a 74 percent increase in the number of transnational terrorist incidents and a 168 percent increase in the number of deadly incidents when compared to the previous eight years.

An ongoing military campaign might be acceptable if it was effective in mitigating terrorist violence. It isn’t. Obama was right: The time has come to establish clear benchmarks for success.

Boston



Spat masks actual crisis of prostitute trafficking

From Twiss Butler, board member, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

Your report on a mock battle pitting evangelical Christians against the Department of Justice and its satellites over the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act seems designed to divert attention from the real human rights abuses inherent in prostitution and labor trafficking in this country (article, “Sex worker measure splits DOJ, Baptists,” April 8). A minor tiff between the administration and its loyal religious constituency is scarcely a matter to change election outcomes.

Why else ignore the most expert sources on the realities of commercial trade in women, the principals of organizations working with trafficking victims worldwide who are best qualified to expose the falsity of DOJ’s arguments against enforcing the law against modern-day slave traders? Objective reporting would certainly have included a wider sampling of opinion from the many organizations like the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, and Equality Now, which strongly support the Wilberforce Act and are well qualified to critique DOJ’s shaky case against it.

Given liberal opposition to strong enforcement against sex trafficking systems, it looks like the real story is the men’s coalition to keep prostitution available, no matter what the cost to women.

Alexandria, Va.

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