Some readers (three) complained because I said we didn't have a plan for when we give back Iraq to the Iraqis on June 30.
I erred. We do have a plan. The plan is to turn over the country to Saddam Hussein's generals, who will then train Iraqi soldiers to protect the country.
At this very moment, we are testing this plan in Fallujah, where Marines turned over the city to Gen. Mohammed Latif.
Under the old plan, no one holding a high position during Hussein's rotten, evil regime could serve in the new Iraqi army.
The new plan makes more sense because the generals have more control over the insurgents than do the coalition forces. I found this out when I spoke to my own Deep Throat in the garage under the Pentagon.
"How did you come up with the new plan?"
"The old plan was a mistake. We should have recruited their generals at the beginning. They were familiar with the country, they came cheap and they needed jobs. Old soldiers never die, they just work for anyone who will pay them."
"How did you pick General Latif?"
"He wasn't our first choice. General Salah was our first choice. But we discovered he killed too many Kurds, so he wasn't as popular as we thought -- at least not in Kurdistan. So we fired him."
He continued: "With Salah out of the picture, we looked into our data bank and found General Latif. He was one of Saddam's closest advisers before he went into exile and a general who could lead his soldiers into battle.
"The good things outweighed any blemishes on his record. You can't expect to find a squeaky-clean record from someone who played a role in losing the war."
I agreed. "When you recruit Iraqi generals, what you see is what you get. I know this is a silly question, but are you sure you can trust General Latif?"
"We're sure of it. Saddam trusted him, so why shouldn't we?"
"Suppose he double-crosses you?"
"Then we take away his credit cards and cancel his health insurance policy."
"What do you want Latif to do for you?"
"Form a brigade of brave Iraqi soldiers, then go into Fallujah and disarm the insurgents."
"Hold it a minute. Last time the Iraqi soldiers went into battle, half of them refused to fight."
"That is the beauty of our plan. We'll double the size of the brigade so we'll only need half of them to fight the bad guys."
"If your plan works, will you recruit other Iraqi generals to join the coalition? All we want to do is win the hearts and minds of the people. What do the generals know about democracy?"
"We're going to send them to night school and have them take immersion courses from Paul Wolfowitz."
"I hope your Fallujah plan works out and General Latif is everything you expect him to be. If he fails, do you have a Plan B?"
"Yes. It's called the Worst Case Scenario." He lowered his voice. "I can't tell you his name -- the only thing I can tell you is that he needs a haircut and a dentist."
I looked at him in horror. "Oh, my God. You're not bringing him back?"
Deep Throat said, "In war, anything goes."
(c) 2004, Tribune Media Services