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Iraq Plan: The bare minimums
Posted by: McQ on Friday, December 29, 2006

Sen. Joe Lieberman has traveled to Iraq and is of the opinion that more troops are an absolute necessity to ensure success in Iraq. I've stated my ambivalence to this point since I'm not sure of the clarity of their purpose or mission among those who would send them.

Lieberman talks about his visit and the fact that any number of military people he spoke with there believed in their mission, that they could succeed and that more troops would help them do that. Not surprising that Lieberman would report what he wants as what some in the military want as well. Anyway, here is the money quote from his article:
The addition of more troops must be linked to a comprehensive new military, political and economic strategy that provides security for the population so that training of Iraqi troops and the development of a democratic government can move forward.

In particular we must provide the vital breathing space for moderate Shiites and Sunnis to turn back the radicals in their communities. There are Iraqi political leaders who understand their responsibility to do this. In Anbar province we have made encouraging progress in winning over local Sunni tribal leaders in the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorists. With more troops to support them, our forces in Anbar and their Sunni allies can achieve a major victory over al-Qaeda.
Three major points in that first sentence, of which, only one has received any real discussion. How many troops and for how long?

But Lieberman's points about a political and economic strategy are equally important. In fact, the case can be made they're more important. Whatever the administration puts forward in its upcoming plan for Iraq must be a comprehensive plan which addresses more than just the security of Baghdad and Anbar province.

In the economic sphere, we must insist that an oil revenue sharing plan be completed and presented which ensure that sunnis are assured of getting a share. They've been haggling over this for years. Recently it was announced they were close to a resolution and then, nothing. This single agreement would do more to demonstrate to the sunnis their equal inclusion in the Iraq of the future than all the economic plans and promises the government could make.

In the political sphere, the Iraqi government must begin to forcefully assert its authority. That means it must first confront and disbanding the militias. And that further means a united effort backed by all It will not be viewed as the legitimate authority in Iraq until it isn't perceived as sharing (or in some cases, ceding) power with unauthorized militias. The militia question is critical to success in Iraq. The question is whether those who make up the government of Iraq will chose the nation over their religious sect. We must force them to make a decision.

Unless political and economic plans which address, at a minimum, those two points are included with any military plan, then I'm most likely to oppose more troops. I'm all for giving the Iraqi government "vital breathing space" if I see a plan and a will for that government to do what is necessary to do what is necessary to help calm the sunni side of the insurgency and step up and confront the militias.

Without those, though, I see no reason to commit more troops. My hope is that part of the process the administration is going through includes intense discussions with the Iraqi government about both the economic and political spheres and resolution of at least the two areas I deem critical to success before talking about more troops.

UPDATE: From the NYT:
“The mission that most people are settling on has to do with using them in a security role to quell violence in Baghdad and the surrounding area,” said a senior Pentagon official involved in the planning.

Any plan to add to American forces in Baghdad would have to be negotiated with the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, which has expressed interest in using Iraqi forces, not American ones, to assert more control over the capital.
"Expressed interest?" To quote Nike: "just do it!" It's your freakin' government and your freakin' country!

Geez.
 
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Well, he thinks the entire Middle East is divided between the forces of AhmadineSauron and the free peoples led by George W. Aragorn, so I’m not sure his conceptual framework provides a solid launching pad for a strategy. (Does he really think that AQ is on the same side as the Shiite extremists????)

His ’plan’ essentially calls for an unspecificed number of troops for an unspecified amount of time, whose provision is unaccounted for, to support a "new military, political, and economic strategy" whose contents he can’t define.

Shorter Joe Lieberman: Instead of staying the course, we must give the Bush administration a blank check.
 
Written By: Geek, Esq.
URL: http://
I have to admit, Geek, that I wasn’t particularly impressed with Lieberman’s piece. I really just took the opportunity of its publishing (and those two paragraphs) to tie in my opinion.
His ’plan’ essentially calls for an unspecificed number of troops for an unspecified amount of time, whose provision is unaccounted for, to support a "new military, political, and economic strategy" whose contents he can’t define.
Agreed. Which is precisely why I wanted to take the opportunity to express what that should mean at a bare minimum.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I wasn’t criticizing you—I just couldn’t get past how utterly lame this piece was.

My take is that there are really two options: Fold, or all in. By all in, I don’t mean a massive military commitment. Rather, that means a comprehensive diplomatic initiative regarding all of the region’s problems. To pretend that Iraq and Israel/Palestine aren’t linked when, by golly, they have two of the same moving parts in Syria and Iran, is folly, in my opinion.

 
Written By: Geek, Esq.
URL: http://
This piece is just more cluelessness from a man who, from the very beginning of the Iraq venture has (at best) demonstrated a serious lack of understanding about the Middle East. I challenge anyone to present a single significant prediction made by Lieberman since the toppling of Hussein that has been anything but the exact opposite of what ended up happening.

I think another "Bare Minimum" to add to McQ’s list should be a convincing explaination of exactly how we are going to convince the Shiite moderates (whose influence is already waning) to go to war with Shiite extremists and militias when they already have their hands full combating Sunni extremists. The idea that even 50,000 troops for even two years would sweeten the pot enough for Maliki to put his head in the noose strikes me as crazy.
 
Written By: Badger
URL: http://
Lieberman’s proposals are doomed, along with everyone else who has or is proposing a ’solution’ for Iraq (including our feckless President who is, even as I type this, wasting his time trying to come up with a new ’plan’) unless and until they acknowledge a couple of facts:

#1, the people of Iraq don’t want what we’re selling and, like marketers around the world, we can’t sell what the people don’t want to buy. We’re trying to sell them on an idea of living together in peace and harmony, of sharing power and resources, and of peacefully reconciling their differences in the interests of the country. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough Iraqis who want that. There are far more of them who see no reason to share and are willing to use force to keep that from happening. If enough Iraqis wanted an oil sharing agreement, they would have had one by now. If they truly wanted the government to crack down on the militias, they would have. They don’t lack the resources to do so, they lack the will. The Iraqis simply don’t want what we want them to have.

#2, ’moderates’ don’t win wars. By definition, moderates are squishy and more interested in getting along than fighting over principle... and, as such, are incapable of winning a fight. Winning wars requires people who are committed to a cause and who are willing to kill and run the risk of being killed in order to achieve that goal... and moderates, because nothing is that important to them, just aren’t willing to do this. America didn’t gain its freedom because the moderates got together and tried to work things out with King George. Lincoln didn’t win the Civil War because he sought to include the South in a power sharing agreement. Backing moderates in a fight is dumber than playing the lottery, for at least there’s a miniscule chance of winning the lottery.

If we want the fighting in Iraq to stop, the only way we can help make that happen is to pick one side and back them in their fight against the others... until the other side pleads for mercy.

And because Bush and the likes of Lieberman aren’t willing to do that, all of their planning and all of their thinking and all of their visits to Iraq and all of their op-eds will do nothing more than waste time... and the lives of our servicemen who are in Iraq trying to do something that can’t be done.
 
Written By: steve sturm
URL: www.thoughtsonline.blogspot.com
In the economic sphere, we must insist that an oil revenue sharing plan be completed and presented. ... In the political sphere, the Iraqi government must begin to forcefully assert its authority.

for a blog whose founding principle is skepticism about government, that’s a lot of "must"s.

We have insisted on an oil revenue sharing plan. We have insisted (now and again) on the disarming of militias. In the exercise of their sovereignity the Iraqis told us to pound sand.

Imaginary dialog:

US Ambassador: The US insists that the Sunnis receive a fair share of oil revenue. It is the only way to end the violence.

Maliki (with Sadr’s delegates behind him): No.

end dialog.

now what?
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
I wasn’t criticizing you—I just couldn’t get past how utterly lame this piece was.
I understood that ... I was agreeing and explaining that it just provided a convenient platform for my own thoughts.
Fold, or all in. By all in, I don’t mean a massive military commitment. Rather, that means a comprehensive diplomatic initiative regarding all of the region’s problems. To pretend that Iraq and Israel/Palestine aren’t linked when, by golly, they have two of the same moving parts in Syria and Iran, is folly, in my opinion.
Well, I’m not sure I’d characterize it as that but I see your point and agree that it must, as I emphasized above, include political and economic components.

I’m still not convinced of the utility of diplomatic talks with Syria and Iran simply because there is no benefit at the moment for them to see our position strengthened.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
....the people of Iraq don’t want what we’re selling and, like marketers around the world, we can’t sell what the people don’t want to buy.
This doesn’t really make any sense. They want what we’re selling, they just don’t want the style we’re selling or us selling it. That’s a far cry from not wanting it.
’moderates’ don’t win wars. By definition, moderates are squishy and more interested in getting along than fighting over principle... and, as such, are incapable of winning a fight.
The "war" is won. It is the post-war in which we’re having problems. And in that phase moderates can indeed "win" if they’ll become engaged. That’s the entire point of demanding the Iraqi government step up.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
...for a blog whose founding principle is skepticism about government, that’s a lot of "must"s.
Well Francis, as some point in any process there is a shift from "it would be nice if this happened" to "this must happen" if the desired outcome is to be achieved.
We have insisted on an oil revenue sharing plan. We have insisted (now and again) on the disarming of militias. In the exercise of their sovereignity the Iraqis told us to pound sand.
The premise here is "success" in Iraq. Whether or not they agree doesn’t change the fact that for there to be success, most people agree those two things must happen.

Whether they will or not is an entirely different discussion.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I think another "Bare Minimum" to add to McQ’s list should be a convincing explaination of exactly how we are going to convince the Shiite moderates (whose influence is already waning) to go to war with Shiite extremists and militias when they already have their hands full combating Sunni extremists. The idea that even 50,000 troops for even two years would sweeten the pot enough for Maliki to put his head in the noose strikes me as crazy.
The only leverage we have, in that regard, is our continued support. Even the most cynical Iraqi politician knows that if we pull out anytime soon anarchy and chaos are very likely to fill the void.

I think it’s time to play hardball with that and leverage it into a "convincing" argument to the moderates to do exactly what you describe or see us begin to pull out our troops.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And in that phase moderates can indeed "win" if they’ll become engaged
McQ: you either missed or ignored part of my point: moderates, by definition, won’t become engaged. To twist the old Tarryton line: they’d rather switch than fight.
They want what we’re selling, they just don’t want the style we’re selling or us selling it. That’s a far cry from not wanting it
And on what basis do you think this? By the thousands and thousands of them who have risen up against the militias? By the marches for peace throughout the streets of Baghdad? By the thousands of tips that they give on where to find insurgents, weapons caches and so on? By their having come up with power sharing agreements, agreements on sharing oil revenues and so on? By their police forces and army forsaking ties to their sects and instead pledging allegiance to the new government?

The fact is that if the Iraqis truly wanted peace and love and understanding and cokes, they would have it. They wouldn’t have tolerated the militias and the foreign jihadists, they would have already done ALL of what you say they should do. So what that they showed up to vote? That’t the easy part, even in that god-forsaken country (heck, they probably did so out of habit, back when Hussein forced them to show up). It’s the other stuff that takes b***s to accomplish. There’s a big difference between merely saying you want something and backing it up. And, back to my first point, moderates won’t do it. And since they don’t have the b***s to step up, then the h*** with them. They ain’t worth the lives of any more American troops.

And, if you truly believed they want peace and love and all that, but that they’re objecting to either "the style we’re selling or us selling it", then isn’t that a great reason for us to get the heck out of there? Not that I believe it, but if we’re the obstacle to their getting their act together, then the faster we’re gone, the better for all concerned, right?
 
Written By: steve sturm
URL: www.thoughtsonline.blogspot.com
McQ:

aggregating the President’s various statements, "success" was defined to be, more or less, when Iraq is a:

stable,
democratic,
unitary,
secular,
pro-Western,
state.

At best, we are reduced to trying to achieve stability. 1 out of 5 is hardly success.

But more to the point, we have be telling the Iraqis what they "must" do since we arrived in Bagdad and they have persistently told us "no".

so now you propose either (a) bluff the Iraqis into doing things our way; or (b) start actually reducing troops. Our bluff was called a long, long time ago. The major Iraqi politicians know full well that this President is not going to reduce troops in the face of increased violence. So, you appear to agree with the majority of Americans, not to mention majorities in the HOuse and Senate, that the time for bluffing is long gone, that it’s now time to make good on the threat, and that large numbers of troops should leave.

If there’s just one question I could get you or other posters here to focus on, it would be this:

Here’s the leadup:

In this history of just about every country, there comes a time when the citizens discover that their internal disputes about the future of the country are so monumental that it’s worth going to war to resolve. There is abundant evidence that shows that this is happening now in Iraq. The proposals made here — allocating oil revenue, disarming mitilias — demonstrate our attempt to impose our preferred outcome of the civil war.

Here’s the question: Just how often has it occurred in human history that an occupying force coming from a great distance was able to impose a satisfactory long-term peace on warring factions in a civil war?

Here’s the followup: What were the conditions for achieving success? Are they replicable in Iraq, or do they require doing things (like, for example, supporting the ethnic cleansing and flat-out slaughter of Sunnis) that are not possible for various reasons?
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Francis: is your second question a trick question, as the answer to your first question is ’never’?
 
Written By: steve sturm
URL: www.thoughtsonline.blogspot.com
McQ: you either missed or ignored part of my point: moderates, by definition, won’t become engaged
I neither missed nor ignored it ... I simply don’t agree with it.
And on what basis do you think this?
Three votes with increasingly larger turnouts.
And, if you truly believed they want peace and love and all that, but that they’re objecting to either "the style we’re selling or us selling it", then isn’t that a great reason for us to get the heck out of there?
I never said a thing about peace and love because that’s not what we’re selling.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
aggregating the President’s various statements, "success" was defined to be, more or less, when Iraq is a:
I’m not talking about the President or his various statements. I’m talking about my opinion on what it will take at a bare minimum to be successful in Iraq.
so now you propose either (a) bluff the Iraqis into doing things our way; or (b) start actually reducing troops.
A bluff is when you threaten to do something and when refused you don’t do it. I’m not talking about bluffing at all.

At some point you have to assess the situation as unchangable and if so, then you have to make a decision based on that assessment. If they won’t change, we can’t change them. And if that is the case, then we’re wasting our time and more lives when we can’t accomplish our goals. What I’ve indicated are two measures of their seriousness (at a bare minimum).
Just how often has it occurred in human history that an occupying force coming from a great distance was able to impose a satisfactory long-term peace on warring factions in a civil war?
It would depend on how draconian that force chose to be. I disagree with Steve as would a review of Roman history.

But that’s really not what I’m driving toward at all. You’re assuming these are our imposed solutions. They’re instead logical and necessary solutions to real problems which would be necessary with or without us. So I’m not sure why who proposes them (or requires them) matters.
What were the conditions for achieving success? Are they replicable in Iraq, or do they require doing things (like, for example, supporting the ethnic cleansing and flat-out slaughter of Sunnis) that are not possible for various reasons?

A stable Iraq with a single inclusive authority in charge (ideally the elected government) able to keep order internally and defend itself from external threats.

Inclusiveness can be demonstrated through the oil revenue sharing proposal. The single authority is to be achieved by disbanding the militias and then turning the ISFs attention on the insurgency (which, if I guess correctly will lose steam with the disbanding of the militias and the oil revenue sharing). Breathing space achieved. Stability follows.

Dwelling on whether solutions are "imposed" or not seems to miss the point I mentioned above that they’re not really options anymore but instead necessities for success regardless of who comes up with them or proposes them. I don’t think the sunnis, for instance, would decline fair revenue sharing simply because the US proposed it. And it is hard to argue that allowing militias to share power with the government is detrimental to the government’s legitimacy (and the necessity of disbanding then in order to gain legitimacy), whether we made that observation or they did.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I neither missed nor ignored it ... I simply don’t agree with it.
so you don’t agree with me, fine. So, tell me where in history moderates have pulled off anything like you’re looking to have them accomplish off in Iraq? Just how much new ground are you looking to break here?

Moderates are the cartilege of life; they accomplish nothing on their own and exist pretty much just to keep the bones from crashing directly into one another. What they do is not without value, but if I was looking for someone to stand beside me in a fight, the local moderates aren’t going to be high on my list.
Three votes with increasingly larger turnouts.
yeah, that’s the ticket, that really sent a message to the insurgents and jihadists. It’s a wonder they didn’t all pack it in after having been given the proverbial finger by all those peaceloving moderates. Voting is fine, but it doesn’t make the streets safe, it doesn’t bring back electricity... especially when after they vote, they went right back to supporting the insurgents and/or hiding in their houses.

And if you’re convinced that whatever it is that we’re trying to sell (if not peace and love and understanding) is something they don’t want, or they want it but don’t want us selling it to them, why shouldn’t we get out?
 
Written By: steve sturm
URL: www.thoughtsonline.blogspot.com
So, tell me where in history moderates have pulled off anything like you’re looking to have them accomplish off in Iraq? Just how much new ground are you looking to break here?
A fools game, Steve. Anyone I identify as moderate will draw a disagreement from you. Let’s leave it at both of us having different understandings as to what a moderate is. Apparently your version is born without a spine and unable to develop any worthwhile and solid principles for which they’ll take a stand.
Moderates are the cartilege of life ...
Whatever.
yeah, that’s the ticket, that really sent a message to the insurgents and jihadists.
In that case it wasn’t about the insurgents or jihadists or impressing them or sending them a message. The message sent was to the government or what was forming as a government. To this point the government has been very disappointing to them and their hopes.

What I’m talking about here are ways to change that ... at a minimum.
And if you’re convinced that whatever it is that we’re trying to sell (if not peace and love and understanding) is something they don’t want, or they want it but don’t want us selling it to them, why shouldn’t we get out?
Because the end-product is in our best interest whether they like who’s selling it or not. The fact that they don’t like us doesn’t mean they don’t like or want the end-product or that we shouldn’t continue to try to install it.

That’s why.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Lieberman was always a pompous, posturing fool. He likes being someone who wears the name of a leftist while throwing himself, or other people, headfirst whatever solution seems to project the greatest image of personal heroism on the person suggesting it. He enjoys the juice of that apparent contrast. He’s in love with being Winston Churchill, or some other epic defender of morality. There’s no substance and no genuine accountability, responsibility, initiative or imagination behind. There’s not even a willingness to genuinely engage the problem, only to exploit it.

The left understood this years ago, but Q and O, frankly, was more interested in making moonbat shadow-puppets on Ned Lamont than in seriously assessing Lieberman.

It says here that Iraq won’t deteriorate in any significant manner when US troops leave beyond what’s already occured. The sides are not balanced, but not unbalanced enough for massacres. The in-state ethnic cleansing (used here as "forced displacement and partition" has already begun and will not reverse itself.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"Just how often has it occurred in human history that an occupying force coming from a great distance was able to impose a satisfactory long-term peace on warring factions in a civil war?"

Well, the first mistake made is letting the warring factions crank up to begin with. The ONLY successful model for changing an extreme culture is the WWII Germany / Japan one:

Step 1: convince the population (by blowing the h*ll out of it) that they REALLY want to do things your way.

Step 2: come in with the Marshall plans and the rewrite of the Constitution / reform of the society.

Step One is the only mandatory one; that’s the one that convinces that population that doing anything to cause you to notice them is a Bad Idea. Step Two is only if you have some overriding reason (like needing functioning allies against Communism) for spending the money and time.

"More Rubble Less Trouble"
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://

 
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