I hope this works, but I'm not holding my breath.
The ink blot/oil spot strategy has gained a lot of support among theorists and among some practitioners. In my opinion, given our available forces and the overwhelming mission that they are assigned, this is misguided. Ink blot/oil spot is a very modest evolution of the WWII mindset that focuses on terrain. It has a very limited application and thus far has not been attempted anywhere that the application is relevant.
Ink blot/oil spot works if you have sufficient troops to saturate a locale and control social networks operating in that locale. More importantly, you must maintain control over both the locale and the social networks while simultaneously expanding this control outward. This is much easier when done from a periphery with friendlier inhabitants and neighbors rather than from the middle of the country in the most hostile areas. For example, spreading the ink blot northward from Basra would be simpler than starting in Ramadi and holding or expanding in all directions.
Attempting this now is further complicated by the fact that social networks organized for the purpose of insurgency/terrorism have become larger and more sophisticated. Also, there is the fear that most Iraqis have that American forces will be diverted elsewhere or otherwise not remain in sufficient strength to maintain order while the Iraqi forces are stood up. Sir Robert Thompson said What the peasant wants to know is: does the government mean to win the war? Because if not, he will have to support the insurgent. That makes it much tougher to maintain control over what youve got while expanding your influence, but that is the dilemma that most Iraqis believe they face. Perhaps to their credit, many are arming and organizing themselves for their defense, but lacking sound moral leadership this has resulted in little more than lawless gangs committing the mindless Iraqi on Iraqi violence that has characterized the past several months of conflict in Iraq, further eroding the trust necessary for Iraqis to form a society and further complicating coalition efforts to establish/maintain order. The ongoing cut and run mantra of the Demagogue Party, their leftist cohorts, the limp-wristed panty waists in Europe, and our adversaries in the UN have done nothing to assuage the legitimate fears of the Iraqi people.
In hindsight, we would have been wiser to make this a slow, methodical invasion by equipping and leading the Shia northward and the Kurds southward, backed up with American airpower, led by US Special Forces, and reinforced with conventional ground forces. Advance only as quickly as the liberated cities/towns can be de-Ba'athed, repaired, and made into functioning societies. That would have enabled us to establish police forces capable of policing and consolidating our gains while the military forces pressed on. By liberating the entire country in a matter of weeks, we inadvertently chose to drink from a firehose rather than sipping from a cup.
From my armchair to your screen.
Here is an easier way. We go in and keep the Iraqi Army and police force in tact and put in character a pro-Westrern secular Shia strongman like Allawi and tell him to slowly move the country toward democracy and liberalization.
The truth is that we lose far more young people to traffic accidents at home than we lose to enemy action in Iraq, and if it were a Democrat in the WH in favor of this course of action that is the context in which Iraq would publicly be placed by the DriveBy Media. Realistically, we aren't having a vast difficulty in Iraq in comparison to the mess that Germany was. We have been there longer than our participation in WWII lasted, but not nearly as long as it took to stand up a peaceful Germany. Back then we had the Soviets to contend with as we now have Iran and Syria, but both of them together are not militarily competitive with us as the USSR was.
I think that realistically we are doing what may be done, and we need patience. Which means that, as usual, the critical battle is within America against they hypocrites who went to the wall for "an unusually good liar" but who throw incoherent conspiracy theories against the wall to subvert the good name of a president who has faults but is trying to be honest in the face of dishonest opposition.
We just need to win two ('06 and '08) more elections, and perhaps the situation will calm down. I sure wish I knew where our next good president was coming from, tho. But at this stage in 1978 I didn't know that Ronald Reagan was the guy, even though I did know his name, and in 1998 I didn't know that GWB would be the best of the lot in 2000.
All I know is that McCain ain't it. Nor Rudy. Nor Allan Keyes, who self destructed in Illinois.
Interesting observations and analysis. I dont know if benefits of your suggested strategy would have been dwarfed by unintended consequences if Iraq maintained and used WMD stockpiles or if a prolonged artillery war would have been so much bloodier that the we lost our political nerve. And if Shia took greater credit for deposing Saddam, Iraqs new constitution might not have looked so free, assuming (for better or worse) there was a single Iraq.