Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock


Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict


Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links


Regional News


News Publications

Iraq Options
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Everyone is trying to second guess the ISG and how their recommendations will effect or alter the course in Iraq. So I figured, why shouldn't I?

Frankly, the options are narrowing as the situation deteriorates. Some things, however, do seem as necessary under any scenario.

One of them is nailing down the oil revenue sharing. I think this is a critical component to the overall solution even though it won't have much immediate effect on the sectarian violence. Sunnis are vitally concerned about being cut out of their share of these revenues and the Iraqi government could go a long way toward quelling those fears by settling this question. It might also make those involved in the Sunni insurgency more amenable to quiting the insurgency by a good-faith demonstration by the government in that regard.

Secondly, the militias must be disarmed. Period. Governments can't afford to share power like that and expect to have their authority respected. Right now there are alternative governments functioning within Iraq and Iraqi's loyalties are divided. It is critical that be eliminated as a part of the problem. Of course, that means making hard decisions, acting on them and acting forcefully and with no exceptions. Unfortunately I've seen little indication to this point the government of Iraq is up to that task.

As to the US role, I think it is time that we begin to redeploy, but not in the sense that some Democrats are calling for. I think it is time we force Iraq to take a more forward and active role in their own defense. That means handing them the ball and stepping back, but being there if they get into critical trouble. That means a redeployment within the country. Kurdistan. In Iraq but very near the Kuwaiti border (cuts the supply line, the likelihood of ambush and better protects the force). We're there, but we're not there. That may bring the violence down from a boil to a simmer.

From there you continually assess the situation and when it warrants, start actually pulling troops out of Iraq. The bottom line here is unlike many who believe the best solution is to send in more troops, I believe a tactical redeployment will do the job and do it well. In the meantime if we beef up anything we beef up the embedded US advisor/trainers in Iraqi units.

One thing likely to come out of the ISG is a call for a regional conference which will probably include Iran and Syria. At this point I'm not sure, other than a blow to the pride of the administration, what that will accomplish, if anything.

However I do know that if anything is to come of such a meeting it is going to come at a steep price. It is the US, not Iran and Syria, which is over the barrel. The question is are we willing to pay such a price? That can only be answered if such a conference takes place.

On the other side, I would assume, from what I read, the ISG is not going to favor the Democrats call for immediate withdrawal (4 to 6 months). While many have said the ISG isn't looking for a plan for victory but instead disengagement, if that were true I'd think they'd favor immediate withdrawal. I think instead, as Jon points out in his post of yesterday, they've come to the realization that while we're calling Iraq a "war" (because combat is still on going), it is as much a diplomatic and political situation as any. And I think we'll see the ISG recommendations reflect this reality and work toward a positive solution for the US that we can call "victory".
Return to Main Blog Page

Previous Comments to this Post 

This is all good and well but the Congress seems to believe that an immediate redeployment is Just the Ticket. Immediate being defined as 4-6 months.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Disarming the militia’s is beyond our ability at this point. It’s probably beyond the ability of the Iraqi government, too. Worse, it’s probably also not something they’re terribly interested in doing. Every faction within their government wants their own paramilitary force. The militia’s are not an unfortunate problem — they’re an intentional product of the powers that be.
Written By: Jon Henke
Can’t wait to see the pictures as the last Helicopter leaves the Green Zone it should be Pulitzer material. It amazing how the US can start these civil wars. I never would have thought that a country dominated by a brutal minority for over 40 years would see this level of post oppression violence.
Written By: neandertal
URL: http://
Disarming the militia’s is beyond our ability at this point. It’s probably beyond the ability of the Iraqi government, too. Worse, it’s probably also not something they’re terribly interested in doing. Every faction within their government wants their own paramilitary force. The militia’s are not an unfortunate problem — they’re an intentional product of the powers that be.
I’m not arguing it is our job or that it must be done by force of arms, I’m only identifying it as a critical task.
Written By: McQ
Jon we MUST disarm the militias, unless you think Lebanon is a viable politcal paradigm. No group can keep a stadt-im-stadt and that state remain a viable state for long. Yes Sadr’s crew are taking it out on the Sunni’s, and Maliki and the Shi’i say "YAY!" Once the Sunni have been done, Sadr’s crew will start on Maliki’s crew, and then sadness will abound.

That is why the militias must be disarmed, even if it means engineering a "No Confidence" Vote in the Iraqi Parliament to bring down Maliki.

I agree force of arms may not be the ONLY way to disarm the militias, but the STICK, must be present for the Carrot to entice...
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Has anyone asked the Iraq people if they want this committee’s report? Do they even care what it says? What if they don’t want to be split up into 3 different parts.

This thing smacks of hubris.
Written By: geo
URL: http://
It’s the "Pottery-Barn Rule," all over again.

Carl Levin and Patrick Leahy, et al. need to ask themselves whether the "Pottery-Barn Rule" applies to the "redeployment" and its aftermath.

If the Dem’s break it, do they own it?

I expect the ISG to serve up a Murtha-esque withdrawal plan, just so the "new" congress can be tasked, to great fan-fare, and under piqued public interest, with actually endorsing it.

Why does this sound familiar?
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
There are reports this morning, Tues., that approximately 150 people were kidnapped in from one location in downtown Baghdad, by about 80 uniformed terrorists(or whatever) using at least 20 vehicles. Where does one hide 150 people plus their kidnappers and vehicles? This is in addition, of course, to the usual numbert of kidnappings and murders. If they are not found in the next day or so, I would suggest that this would indicate that there is little or no cooperation by the local citizenry with the Iraqi government, not to mention little or no control of Baghdad by the Iraqi government. Perhaps it is time to include a face-saving exit strategy as one of the options considered by the ISG.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
We can not disarm the militias -
And eventually we’ll see a replay of various scenes from places like post imperial China, White/Red Russia and the current mess in Somalia.
Eventually the ’warlords’ that will rise (calling themselves Imam of course) will control interesting and entertaining sections of Iraq to varying degrees with help from their masters in Syria, Iran, etc.

Or, acknowledge that probably clobbering (this means killing) a bunch of them now before they’ve had further time to recruit and entrench and get armed even better will actually reduce the total number of dead in the long run.
and close the borders, seriously, CLOSE them (ya know, blow crap up as it comes in from Iran and Syria, whack the camels, kill the cabs/trucks, interdict the supply lines, whatever it takes).

I figure we’re going to get blamed either way - might as well get blamed for something that might produce positive results in the long run.

Not gonna happen though. We don’t have the stamina.
So, I hope we have the stamina to watch the Imams slug it out when we’re gone and the ’world’ is blaming us.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
The kidnapping is a bracing development, but show some spine, man!

Just because gangsters kidnapped some students, it’s not time for America to "save face!" You’re only an inch away from blaming the kidnapping on America’s "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

At base, I do agree with you, though: it is time for a change of policy in Iraq. But I disagree on the direction. We need to ramp-up our military intervention, not reduce it.

When that local scofflaw, David Kouresh, "detained" several children and adults in his Waco, TX compound, I don’t recall President Clinton’s AG taking a "face-saving" approach.

I’m not sure why America should ease-up on Baghdad’s Islamo-gangsters, and "save face," when we leveled li’l ole Waco for "Christianist" home-schooling and writing bad checks.
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
What makes you think your second proposal "to disarm the militias", will work since you believe we have been so inept and flatfooted when it came to disarming Iraq. Besides I can see it now. NYT headline "Militia never really had weapons Bush Lied". The politicians now riegn supreme, call it what you want but this election proves any further commitment to Iraq is the Third rail.
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
We do have the physical capabilities to remove the militias in and around Baghdad (the only place they are a real problem.)

What we lack is the political will to do so.

Why, because it means fighting, killing and contact with the enemy. And that means many more dead American soldiers and Marines. It means storming militia strongholds (if they even have any) or snatch people up wholesale off the street and from their houses. We don’t have the stomach for that, given the climate the media would generate during such operations. The results of the inevitable air strike on the wrong house would be live from Baghdad.

Better for the Iraqi army to be the lead in that operation, and they aren’t quite yet at the point of having that capability. Not in the numbers and locations they would need them. Now in 6-18 months there should be enough troops to do that.

In the meantime, I agree with analysts saying the Iraq Police need to be disbanded and started over. That is the largest source of corruption in Baghdad. In order for that to occur, you need to divert resources from somewhere and put them into policing Baghdad. How about the Arab League ponying up a couple 10K policemen.

Of course, if you look at our own history, you’ll see at various times and in various places, that the police and fire departments were used as arms of corrupt politicians. The Iraqis are getting democracy, the good, the bad, and the ugly, all within a very short span of time. Many of us expect them to just realize that they need to put down their arms and work together, while forgetting our own shaky periods of history when it didn’t look like our own nation would survive.

Iraq needs a Lincoln and a Grant, toot-sweet...
without knowing the specific details of the report, it is difficult to determine how it will impact policy. One assumption is that U.S. forces will be pulled back to large bases to act as a ’quick reaction force’ while the Iraqi security forces assume daily patrols and security responsibilities.

This process has been in the works for some time. The Iraqi Army has been ramping up its numbers and taking control of the battlespace over the course of the past year. This fall, the Iraqi government and Multinational Forces-Iraq announced the expansion of the Army by three divisions and increase the manpower of the Army by 37 percent over the next nine months. This includes:

- 18,000 new personnel to replace combat losses, desertions, etc.
- 12,000 new personnel to over-man the combat battalions at 110 percent (this will account for the Army’s liberal leave policy.)
- 18,700 new personnel to establish 3 new Division headquarters, 5 new Brigade HQs, 20 new Battalions and 1 new Special Operations Forces Battalion.
- 10,000 new personnel will be trained every 2 months.

The three extra combat divisions are obviously designed to replace U.S. combat troops at some point in the future (it appears the end of 2007 is a target date) and allow the U.S. to draw down to a single division, along with support/logistical personnel, advisers, Air Force, and Special Forces. The U.S. needs to ensure it maintains enough troops in country to fill the gaps when Iraqi forces fail - and they will from time to time - as well as dramatically increase the embedded trainers in the Army and police formations to nurture the development of the security forces.

Will the Baker-Hamilton Commission accelerate this process by setting timetables and establishing benchmarks to push the Iraqi government to make hard decisions? Will this create too great a burden on the Iraqis security forces to shoulder the responsibility before they are prepared? One thing is clear: a public, dramatic shift in U.S. troop numbers, as well as rhetoric to bring the troops home at all costs will only embolden the enemies of Iraq to increase their attacks and undermine the Iraqi government.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Carl Levin and Patrick Leahy, et al. need to ask themselves whether the "Pottery-Barn Rule" applies to the "redeployment" and its aftermath.
Well, the rule doesn’t apply at Pottery Barn so I don’t see why it should in congress.

McQ is right about disarming the militias. It’s the most critical component of any strategy for peace in Iraq.

But Jon is right to. We can’t do it on our own, and probably shouldn’t even be involved in the process.

I say go to the Iraqi government and lay it on the line. Tell them, you’ve got sixty days to disarm the militias both Shia and Sunni. Then monitor their progress. If significant progress is made, continue. If not, say Sayonara and enjoy your massacre.

Americans have already done their part to win in Iraq. From here on out it’s up to Iraqis. The reason I support withdrawal is that I have seen nothing from the Iraqis to suggest they are capable of getting the job done. Give them this one last chance at redemption, and if they fail, bail.
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Well said, Davebo:
"Give them this one last chance at redemption, and if they fail, bail."
I’m swayed by your comment because we should be encouraging indigenous self-sufficiency in Iraq, as soon as possible.

But, I also can’t help but be reminded of Lucy tormenting poor Charlie Brown with that football every Sunday in the funny-pages. Everytime that the Iraqi’s gear-up to kick the football, interested media, the Democrats, or the "insurgents" yank the ball away at the last moment.

Iraq’s reconstruction has become a parlour game to too many.
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
Everytime that the Iraqi’s gear-up to kick the football, interested media, the Democrats, or the "insurgents" yank the ball away at the last moment.
It seems you’re more interested in enabling the Iraqis than getting them to take responsibility for their future.

Because with the exception of the insurgents, the above statement is ludicrous.

You included apparently.
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Juan Cole made a proposal rather similar to this about a year ago. He seems to have changed his mind since then.

While I agree with you, Bruce, that political settlement is necessary, I’m not too sanguine about that occuring. First, I can’t figure out what would make the Sunnis stop their part of the insurgency? A share of oil revenues? They’ll take that and keep right on insurging. Second, I think that this Iraqi government is incapable of disarming the militias. Too many of the members of the government are creatures of the militias. That’s the conundrum. The plan (which, apparently, became to let the Iraqis carry more of the water) ensured that the militias, erh, political parties would field a roster of candidates and get them elected. And, consequently, be unwilling or unable to disarm the militias.

Finally, if we decamp to Kurdistan or to the Kuwaiti border, why would our reception there be with open arms? I think we need to be a little more cautious about the Kurds’ advance press. While I’m sure they’re glad we got rid of Saddam for them I suspect that the old guests—fish thing will begin to take hold after a while.
Written By: Dave Schuler
Guests and three-day-old fish don’t spend a billion a week. I suspect wherever we decide to base there we’ll be recieved pretty well.

Written By: spongeworthy
URL: http://
Secondly, the militias must be disarmed. Period.
Disbanded or accomodated definitely, but not disarmed. Disarmed implies some sort of grunt work going round taking guns off the populace, which is both immoral and ineffective.
Written By: unaha-closp
"When that local scofflaw, David Kouresh, "detained" several children and adults in his Waco, TX compound,"

I was under the impression he was wanted for some firearm violation, which was why Alcoho, Tobacco, and Firearms made the initial assault and not the FBI.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Militias the size of those in Iraq cannot be disarmed. They can be co-opted into the political system. Ultimately if that can happen, Iraq can be stable — a political settlement that allows for the cooption of militias would mean that major issues involving oil revenues and ethnic power sharing would have been solved. That’s possible with a consociational approach, something that an American withdrawal combined with a pressure from other states in the region can create.

I think, ironically, there is far too much pessimism about what would happen if the US leaves — it’s repeated constantly that this would mean even more violence, and people have started to uncritically accept that contention. I think its more likely that a US departure would force the various sides to come up with an agreement; now the US presence means they are vying for power, and want to assure the US doesn’t try to control the outcome.
Written By: Scott Erb

Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Vicious Capitalism


Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks