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Taking the temperature in Iraq
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A very recent poll says both the Shia and the Sunnis are ready for US troops to leave Iraq within a year:
Eight out of ten Shias in Baghdad (80%) say they want foreign forces to leave within a year (72% of Shias in the rest of the country), according to a poll conducted by World Public Opinion in September. None of the Shias polled in Baghdad want U.S.-led troops to be reduced only “as the security situation improves,” a sharp decline from January, when 57 percent of the Shias polled by WPO in the capital city preferred an open-ended U.S presence.

This brings Baghdad Shias in line with the rest of the country. Seven out of ten Iraqis overall—including both the Shia majority (74%) and the Sunni minority (91%)—say they want the United States to leave within a year.
They want the withdrawal even though many believe the violence may escalate. That belief is especially prevalent among Baghdad Shiites:
Nonetheless, the number of Shias in Baghdad who fear an upsurge in violence if U.S. troops withdraw within too short a time span has risen a dramatic 52 points since the beginning of the year. Six out of ten Shias in Iraq’s capital city (59%) believe that sect-on-sect killings would rise in the event of a speedy U.S. withdrawal. This view contrasts with that of Shias in the rest of Iraq, where a majority (64%) thinks such violence would decline if U.S. troops departed in six months.
Because of the present violence and the probability of more violence when US troops leave, Baghdad Shiites (contrary to Shiites outside of Baghdad)want the militias left alone:
An analysis of two nationwide polls taken by World Public Opinion.org in Iraq over the past year reveals both a heightened sense of insecurity in Baghdad, which is suffering from a wave of shootings, kidnappings and bombings, and an increasing desire to place some time limit on the presence of foreign troops. Unlike Shias elsewhere, those living in the capital do not favor disarming the militias.
There's no question that is the situation in Baghdad and the Shia in Baghdad to whom Prime Minister Mailiki is listening. He may not of stated it officially, but his defacto policy is "leave the militias alone".

So this puts us in an interesting situation. Obviously we're there to support the government of Iraq. But the citizens of the country, if the poll is to be believed, are ready for us to leave. And relatively soon.

Yesterday I listed the 4 options the Pentagon is considering with the hybrid option being the one to which they seemed to be leaning. It calls for "cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts." That would mean pulling most of our combat power out of Iraq (possibly leaving some in an "over-the-horizon" reaction mode), beefing up our embedded trainers and essentially going into a trainer/advisor mode.

Personally I think that should have been our posture long ago (although I'm also for leaving US combat troops in position in more peaceful areas of Iraq), so I'm completely for that transition.

My question is would that sort of a transition satisfy this call for US troops to leave or would any US forces, even those in a training posture, be considered unacceptable?

I ask because that is a question which is going to have to be answered as we put this strategy together. Any thoughts?

UPDATE: On the other hand, there is this:
Pentagon officials conducting a review of Iraq strategy are considering a substantial but temporary increase in American troop levels and the addition of several thousand more trainers to work with Iraqi forces, a senior Defense Department official said Monday.
The plan is called a "surge operation" with the following goal:
Though a temporary increase of about 20,000 American troops is under consideration, the plan envisions the additional troops staying only until security conditions improve. After that, troop levels could come down, as better-trained and equipped Iraqi units took on a larger security role.
Frankly I'm not particularly fond of the idea at all. I have no idea what would be considered to be "improved security conditions". So it's a little open-ended to me. OTOH, I'm fine with the "addition of several thousand more trainers to work with Iraqi forces". That's an area where we should have had "several thousand" a couple of years ago.
 
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I think its an issue that the people of Iraq have lost faith in us bringing about a resolution to the violence. We won’t do what needs to be done.

They’d rather have the violence either play itself out or imagine with that with the US gone, they Iraqi troops can get down to business.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
A surge in Afghanistan might make sense, but I don’t see it making a material difference in Iraq. Here is an analysis of the Iraq situation that seems plausible to me. Afghanistan isn’t as far gone as Iraq (e.g. at least the capital is in reasonable shape) and the coalition is smaller there so adding the same number of troops would make a bigger difference. (Also personally I think winning in Afghanistan is more important; you know, 9/11 and all that.)
 
Written By: Crust
URL: http://
We won’t do what needs to be done.
Excellent. We just need to do what needs to be done. Care to be a little more specific?
 
Written By: Crust
URL: http://
at a guess - breaking some things (the ’right’ things of course) and killing some people (the ’right’ people of course).

The Iraqis will get to that as soon as we’re not there to put a hold on operations.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
at a guess - breaking some things (the ’right’ things of course) and killing some people (the ’right’ people of course).

The Iraqis will get to that as soon as we’re not there to put a hold on operations.
For Shi’i Sunni’s and Shi’i not sufficiently pro-Me, whomsoever "me" is, for the Sunni, the Shi’i...so "we" can restore our historic dominance in Iraq. All-in-all, very unpleasant, IF the shi’i hang together long enough they’ll crush the Sunni before they turn on each other, otherwise the Sunni hope to fragment the shi’i enough that at the end of the day THEY will be on top, IMO.

This doesn’t, to me, mean failure or come home, it means it’s time to pile on the government and play some internal politics to bring the Shi’i militias to heel, and then allow an Armistice betweent he Shi’i and the Sunni. It’s NOT impossible, again IMO, but it requires convincing the Shi’i (Some) and the Kurds as well as the Sunni (Some) that the current government is going to lead to a massive train wreck, the US WON’T be their to save them and that they need to fire Maliki... in short a "Come to Jesus Meeting" with several factions.

A significant portion of the Iraqi people really don’t want a civil war, don’t want foreign dominance, BUT will chose those options IF they believe the US is going to run away..who wouldn’t? "I’d like to live in a Federal Iraq with a multi-cultural government and society, BUT if I can’t have that, THEN I want MY group on top." It becomes the US’ job to convince these factions that the goal IS achievable.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"I have no idea what would be considered to be "improved security conditions"."

That would be the "light at the end of the tunnel".

So the Iraqis don’t want us there. We can use that. We stay until they all stop their mutual slaughter and unite to throw us out, then we leave, having accomplished our goal of a united, peaceful Iraq.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
OTOH, I’m fine with the "addition of several thousand more trainers to work with Iraqi forces". That’s an area where we should have had "several thousand" a couple of years ago.
Why is training Shia thugs whose only loyalty is to their ethnic group and their militia a good idea? Please explain.

At some point, you have come to grip with the fact that there is no "Iraqi" army and no amount of "training" is going to change that fact. All we are doing is training one side how better to kill the other.

If you think American lives should be sacrificed in the service of Shiites who don’t want us there in the first place, then just say so. But please quit talking about an "Iraqi" army. It’s a lie that is getting Americans killed.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
But please quit talking about an "Iraqi" army. It’s a lie that is getting Americans killed.
Yeah, national policy advisors check QandO daily for their position statements MK.
Since you seem to think what’s written here (especially by McQ, who we know you dearly love) affects national policy, why don’t you take a moment to complain at the media for showing the ’success’ of the insurgents. That continued broadcasting of their attacks and body counts is also getting Americans killed, but I don’t see you complaining much about it.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Actually MK the "Army" isn’t bad, for a new Arab Internal Security Army, as I understand it it’s the POLICE and the "militias"/gangs that are the problem.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Since you seem to think what’s written here (especially by McQ, who we know you dearly love) affects national policy, why don’t you take a moment to complain at the media for showing the ’success’ of the insurgents. That continued broadcasting of their attacks and body counts is also getting Americans killed, but I don’t see you complaining much about it.
Are you saying the body counts are lies? Are you saying the videos are faked?

No? Well, then, uou are content with lies, and you seem to dislike the truth.

Again, there is no Iraqi army. There is a Kurd Army. And a Shia army. And a nascent Sunni army. But there is no "Iraqi" army.
Actually MK the "Army" isn’t bad, for a new Arab Internal Security Army, as I understand it it’s the POLICE and the "militias"/gangs that are the problem
So the police are worse. So what?

Conservatives used to be hard headed realists, especially when it came to the Middle East. But since then, the McQ’s of the world have formed this belief that the "Iraqi" army is somehow pure. That somehow, the enlistees would shed all loyalty to clan, tribe, and sectarian groups.

What nonsense. Whatever training (and arms) the US has to offer will be used to kill in the developing civil war. What a f*ck*ng waste.

As I have said before, we need to leave Iraq. Now. The Shia will make short work of Al Qaeda, or foreign fighters, or terrorists, or whatever you want to call them. The idea that Iraq will turn into some kind of haven for the Sunni global insurgency is so much fantasy that it would be funny if Americans weren’t getting killed.

Like George Bush, most wingers have simply no clue about the Middle East and Iraq, present company included.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
The Iraqi police are, in effect, on "the other side." They are the enemy, as it were.

The Iraqi army is, to a large extent, a legal fiction. There are five main problems with the Iraqi army:

1) They can and do desert at any moment.
2) They are not particularly loyal to "Iraq." Most are Shi’ites looking for a paycheck. And the extent to which Iraqi soldiers take their jobs seriously is the extent of their loyalty to the Badr Brigade or the Sadrist Mahdi Army. The "serious" soldiers are militiamen. The others just want to get paid and desert.
3) The Iraqi government won’t use them - ever.
4) They are horribly under-equipped and poorly trained.
5) Getting a training gig in the US military is not considered a stepping stone to a promising career. Until US officers are explicitly rewarded for training Iraqi soldiers, they will avoid such assignments. And Iraqi army units will continue to underperform.
 
Written By: Elrod
URL: http://

 
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