There is simply no good way for the U.S. forces on the ground to interject themselves into such a conflict. Either side could take that as evidence that the Americans are actively taking sides, inflaming passions yet more. Sitting still, however, just says to the broad middle of the Iraqi population that America cannot, in fact, improve security in the country, a bad message to send as well.
Well yeah, except we've made it clear we back the legitimate government of Iraq duly elected by the last vote, so there's no problem taking sides ... we take the side of the government.
Then RE says:
Yet the Iraqi government still only has 50 or so battalions of security forces it can draw on to provide security for a country of 30 million, mandating a large U.S. footprint in any peacekeeping endeavor. Unless that arithmetic improves, the situation in Iraq will stay volatile.
Well yeah, except they left out about 150 battalions, 50 more security battalions and 100 army battalions according to the Pentagon:
Overall, Pentagon officials said close to 100 Iraqi army battalions are operational, and more than 100 Iraq Security Force battalions are operational at levels two or three. The security force operations are under the direction of the Iraqi government.
It also has Kurds and Sunnis in it. So to side with the government is to side with the legitimate power in Iraq and not take a sectarian side.
Yes, but will the opposition see it that way? I doubt it.
The current Iraqi government, … oh, wait …, let me check, … Alrighty, then. Nothin’ over the wire yet… Okay, cool, Yes, the current Iraqi government is Shia dominated, is it not? So taking sides with the government will no doubt be viewed as taking sides with the Shia,
You know the answer to that, McQ. Why ask me? The question I have, is that when sectarian violence/civil war is upon us, wouldn’t the U.S. siding with the Shia dominate government be viewed by the opposition as siding with the Shia?
"The government - along with the security forces - are Shia dominated. If we side with the government, we side with the Shia. "
The US government is republican dominated; does that mean any nation that supports our government sides with republicans, or if someone opposes our government’s position they side with democrats? Or maybe since our government is dominated by whites, anyone who supports it is pro-white and anti-black.
"If we side with the government, we side with the Shia."
No we side with the government, the Shia do not have enough of a majority to legislate by themselves.
In response, what McQ said.
"Oh, and not taking a larger role doesn’t mean not taking any role."
For example conducting vigorous, even battalion sized security operations like we have already done.
I suppose MK knows and is ignoring the 100s of thousand in Iraq—all over Iraq—who protested extrajudical violence as a response to the Mosque’s being bombed, or how sectarian violence has tapered off in the last few days.
The PogueMahone popped in with:
"Yes, but will the opposition see it that way?"
Like that should matter? If we have a good reason to kill the enemies of the Iraqi government which is Shia, Sunni, and Kurd, the delusions of those enemies an only weaken them.
For example, as the leaders of their communities continue to participate in the government—which is what is happening—and deprive the insurgents of their considerable moral support.
"Yes, the current Iraqi government is Shia dominated, is it not?"
No. It is Shia majority. There is a difference.
"You know the answer to that, McQ. Why ask me?"
Because Pogue, you aren’t bright enough to see what the Sunnis and Shias in Iraq already know, and McQ is trying to get you to see it.
Nothing changes with regard to whom we legitimately owe assistance, the elected government that happens to represent all Iraqis.
"is that when sectarian violence/civil war is upon us"
Good you concede it isn’t, then.
"wouldn’t the U.S. siding with the Shia dominate government be viewed by the opposition as siding with the Shia"
Which for those inclined to think that way changes nothing, and for those not inclined to think that way means we are supporting the legitimate elected government of Iraq.
"It’s a helluva predicament."
Only in your and MK’s small minds.
We aid the legitimate government of Iraq until it is not fighting for peace and security, and if they stop we snipe at targets of opportunity on both sides until they do act legitimately or we leave, our choice. The Sunnis, meanwhile, know the way for prosperity and peace is by keeping the US involved and themselves participating in the government. The Shia know there are things we won’t help them do. If the mosque bombing did not set it off, probably nothing will. It didn’t.
AlQaeda is back to blowing up civilians in the meantime, they don’t know the first rule of holes.
Tom, it’s pointless to argue with those who are looking for reasons to see the worst in Iraq. Many, such as MK, are so consumed with Bush hatred that it’s literally impossible for them to see both pros and cons of a situation in which Bush is involved.
I’ve posted this in replies here before - it’s sick. Emotionally speaking, they would rather see Iraq descend into chaos, as long as that makes Bush look bad and relieves them of any need to re-examine their own positions. And any protestations to the contrary that they make are merely to salve their own conscious.
They were wrong about Afghanistan being "graveyard of empires" and the "brutal Afghan winter". They were wrong about the Iraq invasion and the tens of thousands of American lives that were going to be lost in the assault on Baghdad. They were wrong about the Iraqis forming a government through progressively more peaceful votes. (See Jimmy Carter and John Kerry’s comments about how Iraq was too violent to hold an election for typical examples.) But they’ve never acknowledged those mistakes. Nope, it’s "Bush bad" 24/7.
(Notice how many of the same issues that apply to Iraq also apply to Afghanistan, but they don’t like to talk about that because they have no significant grounds to shout about failure. They should be actively celebrating the creation of the first viable democracy in that country’s history, but that would mean actually admitting that Bush did something right.)
The entire Iraq operation has had magnificent successes and horrible failures - like pretty much ever war in history. These folks either willfully wish to deny the successes while celebrating the failures - or, charitably speaking, they simply lack the perspective to see this over the longer term.
Look, there’s an intelligent argument to made against the Iraq operation. But head-in-the-sand denial that any good can possibly come of it is not the way to do it.
One can try to gauge costs and benefits and attempt to balance them against each other, and reasonable people will disagree about the balance. But it’s impossible to do that if all one does is howl about the costs and deny that the benefits exist. And that’s all I see from the left on Iraq these days.
Geez, Tom. You certainly get your panties in a bunch, don’t you?
Seeing how Iraq is, and has been since the invasion, flypaper for Islamic fundi-fighters, I don’t understand why one doesn’t see how Arab perceptions of the U.S. “taking sides” in a sectarian civil war as being a legitimate concern. If the U.S. is seen as backing Shia, wouldn’t that pour petrol on the fire in the belly of a foreign Sunni? I’m not, however, suggesting that we shouldn’t back the government.
I wanted to know what McQ thinks of this. Apparently, not much. Fair enough. But these are valid questions and I’m not the only one asking them.
Interestingly, there are those that suggest the U.S. take sides in a sectarian civil war,
The United States must threaten to manipulate the military balance of power among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds to coerce them to negotiate. Washington should use the prospect of a U.S.-trained and U.S.-supported Shiite-Kurdish force to compel the Sunnis to come to the negotiating table. At the same time, in order to get the Shiites and the Kurds to negotiate too, it should threaten either to withdraw prematurely, a move that would throw the country into disarray, or to back the Sunnis.
…but there’s another choice, and that is to be a participant on one side, with the Shias and Kurds against the Sunnis. The Shias, while they are a bigger number of people, they don’t have the experience that the Sunnis have, but if you combine the Shia numbers with our technology and our support, technical support, we could in fact get a second best—not what we wanted, which was a government that was genuinely democratic, but perhaps a friendly, semi-theocratic Shia government that we had put in power by helping them win a civil war. That’s not a wonderful choice, but it’s a lot better than turning tail and leaving.
Where would that leave us with the Arab world, I wonder.