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Realpolitik in the Middle East
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Stratfor has a fascinating overview of the geopolitical strategic situation in Iraq. It's far more complicated and tenuous than many supporters of the war might like to believe. Read all of this...

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The resolution, as Stratfor points out, "is not only nowhere in sight, but not even in mind." It's a hell of a lot more complicated than "as Iraq stands up, we stand down", and a lot trickier than simply training a couple hundred thousand Iraqis to shoot guns and salute officers.

Pulling out completely in the near future would be disastrous. Worse than disastrous, it would resemble the post-Bismarckian period in European history, when inimical national interests, widespread nationalism and diplomatic ineptitude threatened to rip apart the negotiated borders almost everywhere. Like Europe without Bismarck, a Middle East without the United States to negotiate and/or force compromises would almost certainly devolve into an arms race leading inevitably to war.

The solution, however, is simple enough, and it solves quite a few political problems for the US. Don't pull out, pull back. The US ought to stay in Iraq, both as a resource for the new Iraqi government and as a backstop to potential conflagrations.

Much like we eventually did in Europe and Korea, we need to draw back, but not down. Stratfor takes the same approach, arguing that...
Within that imbroglio there is room for compromise: have the United States—via a permanent occupation—guarantee Iraqi neutrality. An Iraq with 165,000 U.S. troops is in neither Iran's nor the United States' interest, but an Iraq with 40,000 troops at bases in the western Iraqi desert is. It is enough of a force to prevent unsavory governments from arising, but not enough to make Iran fear that Tehran could be flying the Stars and Stripes after a hectic weekend.

 
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Sounds like they’re proposing Murtha lite, though ’em took a long while to get there. Murtha, that is, after the public ripped him a new one for advocating a complete immidiate pullout.

My reaction is the same to both.




 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Has anyone considered the logistics of a permanent US presence in Iraq? It makes for a hell of a recruiting pitch, for example. Join the Army, paint rocks in the Iraqi desert. And, by the way, be careful because those rocks may explode. How will they be supplied, protected, amused, etc? How long will the tour be, and how will they be moved in and out of Iraq? They will be a permanent target and a permanent magnet for terrorists and a great recruiting tool for jihadists. The occupation of Iraq is not comparable to the occupation of Japan or Germany.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Has anyone considered the logistics of a permanent US presence in Iraq?

Yes, and I consider it a foolish idea. If you want to play cavalry and have a presense in the region that can be quickly inserted into Iraq if necessary, do it from Kuwait. That removes the Iraqi insurgency’s impetus to exist and has the Americans close enough, given air assault capabilites, not to mention air strike capabilites, to react in the necessary time to support the government of Iraq.

Once the fire is stomped out, it’s back to Kuwait (which isn’t near as bad duty as Iraq).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Realpolitik suggests that the only "real" motive behind a permanent American military presence in the Middle East should be to guarantee OUR continued access to oil. All else [spreading democracy] is just nonsense.
Realpolitik (i.e., calculations of power and interest) suggests no such thing. In fact, it suggests precisely the opposite. We had much more efficient ways than war to ensure access to oil.

America has always had an idealist streak—an interest in a moral order that includes democratization. It’s a part of our calculation of national interest. (and, with the ascendency of the Neoconservatives and the democratic peace theory, it’s increasingly becoming a part of our calculation of power)
If we want to really "spread democracy" the 82nd Airborne should drop into the District of Columbia and round up both corrupt political parties and their lobbyists.
I’m all in favor of hamstringing DC when possible, but I’m pretty sure that a military coup would be...less than optimal.
Sounds like they’re proposing Murtha lite, though ’em took a long while to get there. ... My reaction is the same to both.
Uh huh. Then how do we manage the conflicting interests?
Has anyone considered the logistics of a permanent US presence in Iraq?
It doesn’t have to be permanent. But it needs to be long-term enough to pacify some nervous, and potentially revanchist, groups.
If you want to play cavalry and have a presense in the region that can be quickly inserted into Iraq if necessary, do it from Kuwait.
Eventually, I agree. For some few years, though, I think we’d need to stay in Iraq. The key to staying in Iraq, though, would be pulling back to the sparsely occupied and largely peaceful desert areas in the south and west. Well out of sight of the Sunnis.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"If you want to play cavalry and have a presense in the region that can be quickly inserted into Iraq if necessary, do it from Kuwait."

We just gave that base back to Kuwait...yesterday I believe. I don’t know if that means we can’t use it or if it’s a case by case deal.
 
Written By: mark m
URL: http://
Geez folks, I must be PRESCIENT...Because when we began this in 2002 I KNEW that my grand-children would be in kasernes or casbahs or FOB’s or "Camps" in Iraq. My father’s generation liberated Europe, my brother and then all my friends spent the majority of their adult military careers DEFENDING Europe, specifically Germany. I expected no less of Iraq.

And as to the PRC and Russia not "Accepting" permanent US presence(s) in the Middle East two thoughts: 1) what will they do about it? 2) Though they did OBJECT to the US Presence(s) in Korea and Germany, well the US STAYED, and they accepted it. Again, someone explain to me: a) what they will do b) why US policy must be predicated on keeping the PRC and Russia "happy"?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Just to pursue one problem a bit more, where does one get water in the middle of a desert? Not just a truckload or two, but hundreds of thousands of gallons, perhaps more, every day? And of course there are the US and Iraqi domestic political problems. Think Northern Ireland.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Just to pursue one problem a bit more, where does one get water in the middle of a desert?
Desalinazation plants.... Production of oil requires water, Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s largest de-sal plants, plus the Good Ole’ US of A Army has the patented 11,200 liter per hour ROWPU capable of de-salinating seawater. Plus there are aquifers running beneath Saudi Arabia carrying significant amounts of water (it’s how Saudi Arabia manages to grow WHEAT in the desert) and these can be reached by drilling wells. Mobile well-drilling teams, of which the Uncle Sugar Ain’t Released Me Yet has a number in the reserve forces, can reach down 600 feet for access.
And of course there are the US and Iraqi domestic political problems. Think Northern Ireland.


This was unclear... you’re saying that Catholics and Protestants will start fighting in Iraq or the US?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe, no need to be obtuse. Many stories before, during and after the war paint a strikingly similar picture to NI when dealing with the tensions between Shi’a and Sunnis. Throw in the Kurds and you have 3 gorups out to "make the land pure." Much like the UDA and the IRA, some Sunnis and Shi’a (probably Kurds as well) seem to have no problems killing innocents to make their point.


While the US presence certainly seems to be exacerbating the problem, a full pull out would leave us with a situation similar to what NI would have been without the British Army. One large camp of mixed religion innocents being blown up by two (or three if the Kurds are feisty) smaller groups of terrorist hard-liners.


Unless we decide to appoint a hand-picked dictator (again), keeping a presence to reduce those attacks until some sort of middle-eastern "Good Friday accord" can be reached seems the thing to do. Perhaps you have a plan that doesn’t rely on the Shi’a, Sunnis and Kurds to suddenly become bosom buddies?

 
Written By: Ken
URL: http://
keeping a presence to reduce those attacks until some sort of middle-eastern "Good Friday accord" can be reached seems the thing to do.
No Lie GI, I don’t think I have intimated that I OPPOSE the US actions in Iraq.
Perhaps you have a plan that doesn’t rely on the Shi’a, Sunnis and Kurds to suddenly become bosom buddies?


They don’t have to be "bosom buddies" just come to the realization that the cost of dis-unity is higher than the cost of unity. Right now, the Sunni’s aren’t sure that the costs are not higher and so continue to oppose the new government.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
bob fucks donkey balls
 
Written By: rr
URL: http://rr

 
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