The Corner

Winning Dirty

Rich, Dr. H, anyone, anyone? Thoughts? From Mort Kondracke:

Without prejudging whether President Bush’s “surge” policy will work, the administration and its critics ought to be seriously thinking about a Plan B, the “80 percent solution” – also known as “winning dirty.” Right now, the administration is committed to building a unified, reconciled, multisectarian Iraq – “winning clean.” Most Democrats say that’s what they want, too. But it may not be possible.

The 80 percent alternative involves accepting rule by Shiites and Kurds, allowing them to violently suppress Sunni resistance and making sure that Shiites friendly to the United States emerge victorious.

No one has publicly advocated this Plan B, and I know of only one Member of Congress who backs it – and he wants to stay anonymous. But he argues persuasively that it’s the best alternative available if Bush’s surge fails. Winning will be dirty because it will allow the Shiite-dominated Iraqi military and some Shiite militias to decimate the Sunni insurgency. There likely will be ethnic cleansing, atrocities against civilians and massive refugee flows.

On the other hand, as Bush’s critics point out, bloody civil war is the reality in Iraq right now. U.S. troops are standing in the middle of it and so far cannot stop either Shiites from killing Sunnis or Sunnis from killing Shiites.

Winning dirty would involve taking sides in the civil war – backing the Shiite-dominated elected government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ensuring that he and his allies prevail over both the Sunni insurgency and his Shiite adversary Muqtada al-Sadr, who’s now Iran’s candidate to rule Iraq.

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