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A foreshadowing of early withdrawal?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, August 07, 2007

One of the arguments we "dead-enders", Bushbots and warmongers make about early withdrawal is that if the security situation isn't settled enough to allow the political process to do what is necessary, at all levels, to connect and function, chaos will ensue as various factions vying for power attempt to fill the vacuum. Basra, it seems, will soon demonstrate that premise:
As British forces pull back from Basra in southern Iraq, Shiite militias there have escalated a violent battle against each other for political supremacy and control over oil resources, deepening concerns among some U.S. officials in Baghdad that elements of Iraq's Shiite-dominated national government will turn on one another once U.S. troops begin to draw down.

Three major Shiite political groups are locked in a bloody conflict that has left the city in the hands of militias and criminal gangs, whose control extends to municipal offices and neighborhood streets. The city is plagued by "the systematic misuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighborhood vigilantism and enforcement of social mores, together with the rise of criminal mafias that increasingly intermingle with political actors," a recent report by the International Crisis Group said.
Obviously, if militias have been left to not only continue to exist, but to operate, it is hard to make the case that security has ever been at the level necessary to call the place 'secure' enough to concentrate on the political side of the job and establish the rule of law.

But hey, the British think enough is enough, and plan on leaving Basra to the tender mercies of the warring factions while declaring themselves done. The result would seem to be obvious. Contrast that with what is happening in Anbar right now and the difference couldn't be more drastic or stark.
 
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"The city is plagued by "the systematic misuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighborhood vigilantism and enforcement of social mores, together with the rise of criminal mafias that increasingly intermingle with political actors," a recent report by the International Crisis Group said."

Sounds like Taiwan right now. Minus the tribal vendettas.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
The most difficult part of the "Clear, hold, and retain" tactic is the "retain" part, which by definition must be the continuation of a secure environment by Iraqi forces after the coalition forces have cleared the area and held it until transfer to control by Iraqi forces.

We can clear and hold any community in Iraq, not that it’s easy, but our soldiers are good at what they do. We talk about providing stable environment that can allow the political situation to improve, but without successful retention by Iraqi forces, our boys are wasting their time.

I see signs that Iraqi forces are becoming more competent. Let’s hope that’s true and widespread, or else we won’t even be able to give the political aspect of this situation a chance to fail.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
The flaw in all of Bush’s post-invasion thinking is his assumption that the Iraqis want to live together in peace and harmony with one another, at the very least enough of them to marginalize the few who don’t, and that only ’rogue elements’ are keeping that from happening.

Unfortunately, the rogue elements aren’t causing the problems in Iraq, they are merely the means by which the Iraqis go about killing those on the ’other’ side. The Iraqis just aren’t buying what Bush is selling (an op-ed in today’s WaPo illustrates this point nicely).

And with the Iraqis not interested, everything Bush and his commanders have tried to do has been doomed to failure... not, interestingly, because he is incompetent as his critics claim, but because when one chases the impossible, everything that one tries is doomed to failure.

Sure, the British could have done more to disarm and disband the militias in Basra, but why bother? Since the Iraqis in that area aren’t interested in living together, as soon as the British left, they were simply going to rearm and pick up where they were temporarily forced to stop. We could have seen this coming from Day One.

And notwithstanding the views of supporters of our surge (including those who for some reason won’t admit today what they’ll have to admit tomorrow) who argue for more time and tout statistics showing a reduction in violence, the same thing is going to happen in the rest of Iraq. We may have had some temporary success in cutting down on the violence, but as soon as we leave, whether now or twenty years in the future, the fighting will pick right back up.

Given that, sticking around only costs more Americans their lives, so why not acknowledge that now and get out of the peacekeeping/nation building business?
 
Written By: steve
URL: http://
Given that, sticking around only costs more Americans their lives, so why not acknowledge that now and get out of the peacekeeping/nation building business?


Ah, the ’why bother’ strategy. We can’t guarantee peace forever, so, why bother.
Something about stopping the spread of fundamentalist Islam keeps gnawing at me, but that can’t be part of what we’re trying to accomplish here can it.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Anbar is Sunni. Basra and most of Iraq is Shi’ite. The surge the US is engaged in focuses on al qaeda, and cooperation with Sunnis in their own region. The "surge" is effective because (finally) the Bush Administration chose a plan with objectives that are obtainable — weaken al qaeda, bring stability to some very troubled Sunni regions.

Yet the elephant in the room is the 65% Shi’ite population increasingly radicalized, with militias supported by Iran, and who are not pro-American. What kind of state will they create for Iraq? How will the Sunnis be treated? How about the Kurds? What will their ties to Iran be? The surge hasn’t attempted to deal with that, though if you read between the lines, our arming of Saudi Arabia (even Israel didn’t object this time) suggests we know that when we leave Iraq’s Shi’ite majority may well go in directions are different than we thought they would four years ago. That’s why for all the success the surge may be having, the real issue in Iraq is political, and focuses on what happens in the Shi’ite community.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Notice to all (stop) Attacking "the surge" as a failure not working (stop). Must change focus immediately (stop) draw focus to the "real" problem (stop) Basra (stop) Key words; Basra, "Elephant in room", Shi’ite, population, IRAN, NYT Articles. Godspeed and disseminate.

As long as there is a NYT there will be an Erb.
 
Written By: coater
URL: http://
Coater, I’ve been making this argument for weeks. If you think it’s wrong, counter it. The focus is on what we need to do to try to prevent Iraq from slipping into absolute chaos, and to avoid regional instability. The surge is by the administration’s own admission not a solution, its goals are limited. That’s why there are two reports coming, one on military progress, one on political progress. Gen. Petraeus himself has noted that a political solution is necessary.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Ah, the ’why bother’ strategy. We can’t guarantee peace forever, so, why bother.
Something about stopping the spread of fundamentalist Islam keeps gnawing at me, but that can’t be part of what we’re trying to accomplish here can it.
This is such an frustrating statement to hear.

It sounds nice, I mean who wouldn’t want to stop the spread of fundamentalism Islam, but exactly how will that be accomplished by our actions in Iraq?

Iraq was not an Islamic Fundamentalist state, so we have not eliminated such a state, but the majority population are Shia, and more closely aligned with Iran, which IS an Islamic Fundamentalist state, and if democracy is applied to Iraq, and the majority are in favor of an Islamic fundamentalism, then unless we decide that we will not allow self determination in Iraq, we may actually be creating an Islamic Fundamentalist state, and an ally of Iran.

In short, if we are 100% successful in both the military and political strategies, there is still a significant likelihood that Iraq will CHOOSE to be an Islamic Fundamentalist state.

The US is adamantly opposed to Iraq using Sharia law as the basis for Iraqi society, and for good reason, the imposition of Sharia Law would immediately transform Iraq into a theocratic dictatorship under the religious leaders. But if Iraqi’s ever get a chance, they may vote their way into exactly this.

So you may think that you are saying something when you say...
Something about stopping the spread of fundamentalist Islam keeps gnawing at me, but that can’t be part of what we’re trying to accomplish here can it.
But your presupposition that our actions will advance this goal is far from proven, and in fact, may achieve the opposite. In any case, you need to a lot better making the case that your goal can be achieved by our actions before you can argue that just because that IS the goal, we should "stay the course".


Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Ayatollah Sistani differed with Ayatollah Khomeini about the role of religion in politics. Khomeini, obviously, wanted the religious authorities dominant, and hence Iran has the guardian council. Sistani prefers a separation of church and state power, even as the state should be Islamic. That at least gives me hope that Iraq’s form of government won’t become a theocracy. Unfortunately, the rise of radicals and populists like al-Sadr threaten to bring a more radical form of Shi’ite theology to the mainstream. So it’ll be interesting, to say the least.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Nah, you’re right Cap, we should get out and let it go the way the peaceful land of Lebannon has gone. There are no fundamentalists in evidence there, so I don’t know what I was thinking.

I’m not surprised to hear the "why bother" argument from you too.


 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Frankly, I don’t know why I bother, I’ve watched people with far better grasp of their arguments, using far better reasoning than I feel the inclination to invest the time in, come up against your point of view in the past and, well, you still maintain your point of view.

So, you win, in much the same way you may get your desired result of proving Bush & Co wrong for going into Iraq. I’m adopting the ’why bother’ approach to the discussion.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
By the way, this story discusses some of the problems being faced. I think what is intriguing is the talks between Crocker and Iran’s Ambassador Qomi. It may be wishful thinking, but what if an Iranian-American diplomatic breakthrough accompanied success against al qaeda, yielding an agreement about Iraq. Iran is one state in a position to cause a lot of problems for the US in Shi’ite Iraq, or help create stability.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Nah, you’re right Cap, we should get out and let it go the way the peaceful land of Lebannon has gone. There are no fundamentalists in evidence there, so I don’t know what I was thinking.
I’m willing to allow more time for the military strategic operation to create an environment for a successful political reconciliation, so I am not saying "why bother", yet. But if thought for one second that the military was at that point, I would call for immediate withdrawel. The primary reasons I am favoring more time at this moment are that we are already there, and the military wants the opportunity to continue. That said, there is no good argument why even if the military created the perfect environment for political success, there will be a successful political outcome. So I am not confident, and never have been, and you have made no arguments why I should be. You just offer platitudes like the President.
"We need to fight ’em over there so we won’t have to fight ’em over here"
"Oceans no longer protect us"
"They hate us for our freedom"

Tell me why Iraqi’s are likely to make our sacrifices worthwhile!

Tell me on what authority you would base the assumption that Iraqi’s will set aside their thousand year sectarian animosity and create a peaceful stable democracy!

You can’t. You case for staying the course is a wish.

Soldiers are going to continue to die, and the only solace I can take in suggesting that they continue the mission is that I did not support sending them there, and I only support allowing more time, because they believe they can make a difference, and in honor of those already fallen, they deserve that chance, however slim it may be.

The best thing that can happen for Republicans is for Democrats to summarily pull out, then Republicans can claim eternally that if the Dem’s didn’t puss out, we would have won.

The best thing that can happen for America is for the slight chance of political reconciliation to be realized... and on this slight chance, since we are already, and since the military wants an opportunity to make a difference, I support giving them this chance.

The best thing that can happen for the Democrats is... there is no good side to this for Democrats, they’ll get the clean up and be blamed for the failure, or on the off chance there is success, they will be blamed for being naysayers.

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"Unfortunately, the rise of radicals and populists like al-Sadr threaten to bring a more radical form of Shi’ite theology to the mainstream. So it’ll be interesting, to say the least."

Not so much the rise, but coming to our attention. Shia extremists existed even under Saddam’s rule and even blew up car bombs occasionally back then. I believe the Dawa party was one of those that has now moderated. Badr Brigades as well.

Scylla and Charybdis are the Sunni extremists and the Shia extremists, but the key will be enough Iraqi army strength that now single militia group could seriously opposed the central government.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
As someone who fiercely opposed our attack of Iraq, I can’t support all our troops leaving now. We have to do something about the mess we left behind. This does not just mean protecting ordinary Iraqi’s from violence; it means upgrading the infrastructure at least to where it was before the war.

If this means dividing the country into three federal units, with equal distribution of oil revenues, so be it. But let’s not be rats fleeing from a sinking ship.
 
Written By: plainjane
URL: http://
As someone who fiercely opposed our attack of Iraq, I can’t support all our troops leaving now. We have to do something about the mess we left behind. This does not just mean protecting ordinary Iraqi’s from violence; it means upgrading the infrastructure at least to where it was before the war.

If this means dividing the country into three federal units, with equal distribution of oil revenues, so be it. But let’s not be rats fleeing from a sinking ship.
I’m increasingly thinking that may be the best option (even confederal units or separate states), but there is a downside in that it would make it easier for foreigners to meddle in Iraqi affairs (not that we are in a position to complain much about that).

The Sunni portion, with support from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states, could be viable. The Shi’ite portion would contain most of populated Iraq, and likely be close to Iran. That’s a strategic loss for the US, but it’s better than Iraq, and does give the US a balance against Iran: Sunni Iraq and Kurdistan. The US could even keep some forces in Kurdistan simply as symbolic to send a message that regional stability is in the US national interest.

The negatives of this is that it gives up the idea of a democratic Iraq as a model for the Mideast, accepts that the majority of Iraq will be allied with Iran, and sets a bad precedent for changing borders. The US would also have to balance Turkish and Kurdish interests to avoid that becoming ugly.

Keeping a unified Iraq depends on: a) mitigating Iranian influence (or even turning it positive through diplomacy), b) promoting Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation; and c) limiting corruption. At this point, progress on those fronts look bleak.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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