As Americans continue to fight in Iraq, the question persists whether the nation has yet identified the right strategy for the war. Lost in the discussion is a greater issue, which is not an Iraq plan or lack thereof. Success in Iraq is not an end in itself. As the inauguration of a new administration approaches, the nation should weigh the implications of its Iraq policy. What does winning, an objective that remains undefined, or any other outcome mean for our larger interests, not only in the Middle East, but globally?
Iraq is but one campaign in the war on terrorism, which, in turn, essentially is a theater campaign in a fourth-generation warfare (4GW) as opposed to Wesphalian, or geographic, conflict.1 It is time to identify other campaigns the United States must win. Even should the surge prove successful, however measured, the question will remain: what next? Needed is a coherent, comprehensive strategy for defending and advancing national interests.