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We need a new approach to the war in Iraq

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Consider a new definition of war as: "getting what you want at the end in a struggle between forces."

This definition neither includes nor excludes the military, diplomacy or other measures that may help achieve that goal.

Certainly when describing the war on terror and the war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and many others have stressed the need for an articulated, comprehensive approach to include intelligence, diplomacy, the media and all other national and international assets.

But if war is "getting what you want," did Israel do well in the war with Hezbollah? And is the United States achieving success in Iraq?

Polls say: no. Israel did not achieve any of its top three objectives: the return of the captive soldiers, the elimination of Hezbollah and the destruction of Hezbollah's rockets.

Moreover, Israel now faces an even more enraged group of Arabs (and Persians) due to the destruction of much of southern Lebanon; a media machine even more emboldened by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah due to his adroit use of Al-Minar, al-Jazeera, and other outlets; some loss of trust and respect for the IDF by the Israeli people; and arguably, a political and military leadership shake-up for Israel in the offing.

And it is uncertain that Israel, with the help of the UN, has, as yet, ended support for Hezbollah from Iran and Syria.

To the IDF, and especially Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, the "war" against Hezbollah relied heavily upon a precision air campaign. Lt. Gen. Halutz practically guaranteed the achievement of Israeli goals including the destruction of Hezbollah and the elimination of the Katyusha rockets using his plan.

An Air Force General, Halutz's development of his campaign against Hezbollah can be traced to incredible American military successes against Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm in 1991 and the "Shock and Awe" of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But that returns us to how we define war itself. Is war limited to the military action? Or is war about "getting what we want"?

In the debate among "think tank" experts, one criticism of President Bush and his leadership team is that in their vision of war, they pay too little heed to diplomacy and other possible elements of war that may have served them better in Iraq.

"This vision focuses on destroying the enemy's armed forces and his ability to command them and control them," wrote author and military historian Frederick Kagan in the Hoover Institution's Policy Review in August 2003. "It does not focus on the problem of achieving political objectives."

Kagan continued, "They see the enemy as a target set and believe that when all or most of the targets have been hit, he will inevitably surrender and American goals will be achieved."

"Shock and Awe" worked remarkably well in 2003, but two years later, with a steady loss of blood and life, mostly due to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), it might be productive for all Americans to come together to help determine the best course of action here on out.

The critical question might be, "are we getting what we want"? Or, what is now our confidence level that we can get what we want? And how might we adjust to get what we want?

To make peace and democracy a reality in Iraq, we might again open our tool kit of possible solutions.

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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