Almost Obvious

by Amy Zidell

I had an epiphany yesterday about an exercise to conduct in Iraq that can settle the debate, answer all the questions, and really create a vacuum of talking points for 2008 presidential candidates - oh and it won't cost anything. I call it Operation Khaki Flu. Unlike the other chromatically themed virus, the Blue Flu, Operation Khaki Flu will be an organized duty of inactive duty from Generals to PFCs in the field, and even including civilian contractors.

Without any notification whatsoever, without any press release, without any leak - the US and Allied military personnel and civilian contractors in Iraq will take 2 - 5 days off. Rather than conduct missions, report to posts, run traffic checks, etc. everyone will stay on bases, in quarters, and the like and sit back, and wait, and watch, and see what happens. Will the Iraqi forces step up to the plate? Will anarchy breakout? Will things come to a complete standstill? No way to know. It is a novel way to preview the effect of the US pulling out of Iraq. It is a novel way to demonstrate the impact of the US military in Iraq. It is a simple way to shine light on the warring gangs in Iraq. It is a simple way to follow the money, arms, and enemy combatants in and out of Iraqi to and from regional meddling players. It is exactly like when you have a bunch of friends singing and then everyone but one person stops and the individual singing out of tune is revealed. Well exactly like it except there's less singing and beer and more sand and artillery. Or like musical chairs, kinda. There's the potential some player will clearly be left out of place.

I hesitate to suggest this is analogous to the metaphor of giving enough rope so that someone can hang themselves, though the hanging's popular in those parts. I believe Operation Khaki Flu could be the single most instructive military operation of the war. It guarantees results with no personnel deployed, with no bullets fired, and consequentially virtually not a single dollar spent. Sure, I know what you're thinking, "What about the paper products that the resulting report will be printed on, and the ink expense?" I'm sure these costs are minimal, as are the incidental expenses of troops remaining in their barracks during the time of the operation. Perhaps the most challenging thing about Operation Khaki Flu will be the act of doing nothing. As American's, we're not wired that way. The knowledge acquired will be invaluable in determining or confirming the most successful subsequent strategy. The results of Operation Khaki Flu will be unequivocal.

Furthermore, Operation Khaki Flu will be a success no matter the result - because the point is to do nothing for a short time and observe what happens. These results will be clearly posted for all interested parties to see. Those with a biological need to debate will continue albeit about nothing.

© 2007 Amy Zidell

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