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Iraq: Handicapping the Baker Report, Part Three

by cskendrick Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 05:56:52 PM EST

Cross-posted in Garish DKOS Orange

Given how suddenly events are changing in Iraq, it's time to wrap this short series up.

Part One raised the point that the very premise of the Baker Commission -- that Americans retain some control over events in Iraq -- was rapidly going out of date.

By the time I published Part Two the preferred scenario from work in support of the Baker Commission was egregiously unsuitable; this was demonstrated.

Today, we'll cover the less palatable possibilities.

The ones that are happening right now.


Recap

From Part One:

Alan Schwartz's "Scenarios for the Insurgency in Iraq" provides a discussion of five likely scenarios for Iraq. The work is likely to be part of what the Iraq Study Group  is using to formulate its advisements to the Bush Administration.

Takeaways from Part One:

  1. Britain, Turkey, Iran, and Syria top the list of actors who are not waiting on James Baker III for marching orders.
  2. Britain is bailing out this spring, and...
  3. ...all the usual suspects (Turkey, Iran, Syria) are pushing for closer ties to the Iraqi central government.
  4. These efforts are far along.

Part Two refutes the neocon dream scenario with a little thing called reality.

You might want to sit down before reading this section

  1. Neither Kurds nor Shia have any intention of subsidizing the formation of a 'robust' Sunni autonomous region; they are in it for themselves.
  2. The new autonomy referendum law, passed in October, will in eighteen months legitimize the partition of Iraq; all talk by American elites against it is simply posturing for the inevitable at this point. The largest region will be the Shia in southern Iraq. The per-capita wealthiest with be the Kurdish Region.
  3. The Shia in the middle, Mehdi Army supporters, mostly, will be largely written off, as the Iranian-supported Badr prevail both in the fictional central government and in the upcoming Shiastan. They will not go down without taking a lot of Baghdad with them. This is currently happening right before our eyes.
  4. The Badr versus Sadr contest is the other civil war that is taking place. American forces are the recalcitrant allies of the Badr death squads in this, which basically means that Shia Baghdadis and pretty much all Sunnis are very much displeased with the American presence in Iraq.
  5. Foreign observers advocating partition are pretty much lending cover to their paymasters; the notion that it will 'end the unrest' is fatuous.
  6. The Sunni are in zero danger of getting oil revenue subsidies; the US-insisted-upon revenue-sharing law is frozen up in the Iraqi parliament. It will, in my opinion, stay frozen.
  7. Possession (and ability to disrupt oil production) is 99% of the situation. The Kurds have contracts -- and sufficient security -- in place to keep their fait accompli control of the northern oilfields in place. Ditto the Shia in the south.
  8. The central government can pass all the laws it wants, but it cannot even enforce a curfew in Baghdad. This does not bode well for central government authority in Iraq.
  9. Oil production is down over 30% from 1980s production levels. In three years, the Iraqis have lost an estimated $24.7 billion of export revenues due to violence and instability blocking new projects and sabotaging existing ones. Revenues that are supposed to self-finance the Iraqi reconstruction.
  10. Perhaps that's why the Kurds and Shia are not in a sharing mood.
  11. Talk of balking off of de-Baathification (read: payback againt the once-dominant Sunni Iraqis), is going nowhere except to the morgue. (Mostly) Badr Brigade death squads, operating from within the (nominally) US-sanctioned Iraqi security forces, are not giving the Sunni insurgents any excuse to stop blowing Shia up, which in turn gives the Shia no cause to stop forming militias and looking the other way while thugs in policeman clothing conduct "spontaneous de-Baathification" in broad daylight.
  12. Kurdistan already exists; the Turks, while posturing loudly about it, are gradually resigned to its de facto existence...for the time being. The plan is to go from one major border crossing to three, all through Kurdistan and to expand natural gas and oil transport via pipelines...from Kurdish-controlled oilfields. Shrug. Amazing, what trade can accomplish.
  13. There is next to zero Arab solidarity within Iraq -- the potential for a Shia-Sunni reconciliation as of this week are negligible. For some reason, people get really pissed when you kill off all the wedding guests, then follow that up by blowing up mosques.
  14. The American rant is still about foreign fighters -- especially some guy named Al Caydo -- but at the same time the Americans are bearing down on the (Badr-infiltrated) Iraqi central government to bear down on the (Badr rival) Mehdi Army in Baghdad. This annoys many Shia, even Shia within the aforementioned Iraqi central government, as the Badr would prefer to be killing Sunni ...and homosexuals.
  15. There is zero danger at the moment of the United Nations assuming the mission of peacekeeping and reconstruction in Iraq...not without American forces doing the brunt of cleaning up after themselves. The UN is highly focused on Lebanon presently, with an eye toward Darfur as the next likely mission of any consequence.
  16. World Bank assistance to Iraqi reconstruction is oblique, at best -- securitizing loans to Islamic banking institutions to open up branches throughout the region which may include building a branch in Iraq...eventually...once the fighting stops.

What We're Doing Today

In the interest of urgency, and the fact that we appear to be stepping directly into the worst-case scenario for Iraq, I'm going to expedite the delivery of

  1. A summary of what's going wrong
  2. Some thoughts on what to focus on, to get the ball rolling.

What's Going Wrong -- All Of It.

Never mind oil; any sort of equitable and stable transition to federal authority would require significant territorial concessions to the Sunni, which would be nice except for one thing: The Shia and the Kurds aren't with that.

Further, that flies in the face of a just-passed autonomy referendum law that gives each province the right to declare for autonomy (and association with other provinces) starting in eighteen months, and the expectation is that (a) this will occur and (b) this will be very bad.

Some experts, among them a certain Peter Galbraith, are openly writing off the existence of Iraq, which has come to be something of an American conventional wisdom (and in my opinion, once "everybody knows" becomes part of the discussion, skepticism should be applied in large doses.)

As for distribution of oil revenues, Contractual signing authority (and enforcement of same) is utterly ambiguous in Iraq and likely to remain that way, so the default condition is that those who can secure possession, possess. This contributes not only political instability but the rise of corruption and crime syndicates. Imagine that.

The cost to Iraq has been an estimated $24.7 billion in lost oil revenues in the past three years. That just happens to be the entire GDP of Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion. War's hell...ishly expensive. What this means is that a great deal of the resources that could have gone toward reconstituting a central Iraq government are just...gone. Not extracted in the form of profits for corporations, simply destroyed.

Furthermore, oil production is greatly reduced from the 1980s peak, and this long-term secular decline may be more properly attributable to peak-oily issues, which short-term disruption of production and degradation of infrastructure. Translation: Perhaps Iraq could produce 6 million bpd as the daydreamers are hoping...then run out inside of 15 years. And, given that the war will have cost $3 trillion by running its course, if that oil were to sell at an average, oh, $190/barrel profit over production and all the revenues would go to the American treasury, I'm sure this would break even. Barely. Maybe.

If territorial and economic disputes weren't even, Iraq has to contend with Death squads on the make, which has turned what was once the most prosperous city in all Islam into a charnel house, pitting Sunni and Shia against once another. For more particulars on the infiltration of the Interior Ministry, Check this out.

If ethnic cleansing's not enough, internecine strife is already afoot  between the Badr organization, paradoxically backed by both Iran and the United States, and the Mehdi Army. This other civil war, which has the bad form to call out the Americans as the real enemy, and therefore is now the flavor of the day for worst enemy America's ever faced, ever (no, really. They're that bad today. I mean it! Well, today I do. I wonder who will be the worst ever tomorroww...)

Far to the north, the nation-statization of Kurdistan proceeds apace, to the point that the Kurdish Regional Government outlines its relations with Iraq on its website.

Bombings to the south, as noted by Grannydoc's diary from a few days ago, do not encourage closer affiliation of Kurds --- or anyone for that matter -- with the rest of Iraq. It would be nice if such slaughters were the exception, but as the BBC points out, they're not nearly rare enough, disproportionately inconvenience and appall Shia (so far).

The notion that the Americans will come to the rescue is challenged in Shia eyes, when The Americans busy themselves raiding Shia targets and insist that the Mehdi Army be disbanded even as hundreds of Shia are slain in marketplace bombings.

Every so often, a call is made that the United Nations should get involved. The UN has not one but two newer projects on its plate precisely because the Americans have chosen to bring war to Iraq rather than peace to Lebanon or Darfur.

As for alternative sources of money pit money, for some reason Paul Wolfowitz's World Bank isn't very engaged, save to secure credit for banks to build branches in the Middle East region, a region that just happens to include Iraq.

Paradoxically, as we covered in Part One, all of Iraq's neighbors are anxious to keep Iraq from flying apart. The question being: If Iran, if Turkey, if Syria want Iraq to remain in one piece, if presumably the Iraqi people would prefer being one country alive than three countries (or more!) and watch their children die to make it so, then who, but who, is so interested in partititioning Iraq, or stepping back and watching Iraq cut itself to ribbons?

Much of this could be inertia, some of it could be self-interest, and more still could be out-and-out malice.

But let's assume good intentions at this point, and get a "Plan" going, shall we?

And, yes, it will be hard work.

Solving the Impossible Problem

  1. Cut off American protection and funds for any community or region declaring itself autonomous of the Iraq central government. You want to go solo, so be it.
  2. All services to such regions will be cut off. All of them. Hey, you want to be your own country, go for it.
  3. Lobby for and obtain the repeal of the autonomy law; this is nothing less than a pink slip from the Iraqi nation-state to the Iraqi people. Sorry, we're letting you go. Good luck with your next sovereignty.
  4. Work out some understanding with the Mehdi faction, as part of the American drawdown. Carrot and stick has worked before with Sadr, and will work again. As Riverbend herself once noted, Sadr was simply pushing for a place at the big table with his earlier stunt at Najaf; he's ambitious and detestable in his politics but he's no more a terrorist or a pro-Iranian than any of the ones that the Americans have loved in the past and love now.
  5. Cut out the intermediaries; direct dealings with Iran to (a) reduce the totalitarian aspirations of the Badr, (b)curtail their violence and (c) obtain commitments from both the Americans and the Iranians to expose and isolate the death squads.
  6. Shy of that, raise via international agencies and nonstate actors the upside of dropping dimes on persons and governments that think death squads are righteous. Light of day, people. The light of day makes a lot of bad things go away.
  7. Equal-opportunity reprisals by the Americans against humanitarian atrocities...or leave. Presently, the Americans are seen as the worst mix of conspicuously uninvolved and gratuitously unjust in operations in central Iraq. Find factions willing to drop dimes on rivals to get the Americans to do the work on their behalf. There's risk to this (vetting the tips is hard work, so do some hard work) but also reward. Hell, it's not like they like us. Or...leave. Completely. Stop being resented for being big and powerful and doing nothing productive.
  8. Best of all, turn out the Badr death squads, be seen doing this, where complicity has taken place, turn out some American accomplices as well. We cannot expect to be rewarded for supporting a central government that is in large measure dedicated to eliminating a part of its own citizenry, or at most favorable one that cannot even police itself, never mind secure its authority over a single city block of Baghdad. This might not be enough to 'save' the American presence in Iraq, but it would be the right thing to do.
  9. Cease and desist legitimizing the partition narrative. It's not pro-Iraq, or pro-security, or pro-peace, or even pro-oil production. It's just plain lazy and evil and wrong. The only thing a chopped-up Iraq favors is any set of interests that wins if the Middle East -- all of it -- remains perpetually insecure and therefore dependent on military assistance from world powers, say, the United States, for example.
  10. While Iraq may be the most obvious loser, ever country --friend or foe--- in the Middle East becomes that much more vulnerable to military pressure from, for example, the United States. That is, if the United States were into that sort of thing, were especially interested in maintaining its advantageous dominance of the Middle East, and for whom a completely disrupted Iraq was a net positive gain to a stable, resentful and possibly hostile Iraq.
  11. Which means that, with or without American participation (perhaps best without) the region's powers should hold a meeting to discuss what they, not the Americans, and not on the Americans' timetable, should do to support the continued existence of Iraq as a nation-state. And this will be done on December 5, I've just learned. And now you've just learned it, too.
  12. While the most-demonized of Iraq's factions both without and within Iraq, the Sunni are the ones who need the most support under the present situation, support that the cannot expect to get from the Shia-dominated and death squad-infiltrated Iraq central government, or from the (see: Fallujah) Americans, or the Kurds, and certainly not the Shia. If partition goes through, the Sunni will be the ones who take the brunt of it and past a certain point, the Sunni countries of Islam will not abide it without either (a) becoming directly involved or (b) bringing great pressure to bear on the Americans to make a solution happen.
  13. In other words, sorry. We're not going to be able to leave. It might be nice, but so's getting gasoline from Saudi Arabia, which might stop if a Shia-on-Sunni genocide starts up in earnest in central Iraq.
  14. So, brace yourselves. God help me...we're, ah, we're gonna keep a few bases in central Iraq, at least for a while, they will be expensive, they will be unpopular, even to the people who need us there the most, but this is just the way it is. This isn't a neocon dream, this is a humanitarian (and geopolitical) necessity. We bail out completely, there will be a regionwide war, and will be enemies with just about everyone in the region. And no more cheap gas. Not a drop of it.
  15. Refuse to recognize oil contracts not signed and enforced by the Iraqi central government...or enforced on its behalf by the United States for the duration. Enforce by targeting oilfields and infrastructure if necessary. You heard me: If necessary, blow things up. Smuggler truck lots, pipelines running out of unsanctioned oil and gas fields, raids and capture of refineries, the works. Either we are for the Iraqi central government (the one we are going to help clean itself up) or we are for oil production. We can't be for both on this point in the short run. In the long run, both oil production and the generation of civic authority in Iraq will be fine. But looking the other way while smugglers and death squads do their thing and blaming 'terrah' the whole time is absurd, and makes us look absurd.
  16. Sometimes, peacekeeping is very ugly business. If there are two more heavily armed and highly motivated factions looking to kill each other, and your mission to to discourage that on account noncombatants in large numbers will be killed, then target all combatants, their HQ's, their supply depots, their concentrations without compunction or restraint. Or, let them run amok, and the very people you are trying to protect will die in large numbers, and the survivors will adhere to one or more of the factions you should have been restraining, and come after you directly.
  17. Or...just try to leave, in which case the survivors will still hate you and as likely take out their wrath on anyone against whom the accusation of being a Yankee collaborator will stick, and kill them in your stead. Basically, it's coerce (by deadly force if one must) all the badness, or leave. As stated elsewhere, I think complete withdrawal is both immoral and results in a far higher body count. Still, quitting Iraq would be far superior to staying in Iraq, and conspicuously doing nothing to fix the situation and getting our troops killed, regardless.
  18. Eff oil production, for now. It's the least of Iraq's problems at the moment. If necessary, destroy the entire industry and deny any miliitias or separatist movements resources to fight over. In extremis, do the same with waterworks. Protect possession and control of same on behalf of the Iraqi central government. Either one is part of one Iraq, with energy and water, or walking and doing so while very thirsty.
  19. Again, helping clean out the Iraqi central government of very deadly, very corrupt and very bad elements is mission #1.
  20. We've been advocating some harsh stances vis a vis separatists. Fine; throw in the carrots. If, and if, the central government thinks revenue and power-sharing with the provinces is a good idea, have the US and international investors pour in the aid...but only if recognition of the central government is both given, and substantiated. Levies of well-behaved and loyal troops from the provincial guards.
  21. Which brings us to a big point: Integration of militias into the Iraqi forces under the auspices of a provincial guard structure. Disciplining of same for atrocities, (no ex post facto and blanket amnesty, but vetting of membership to keep out the worst apples). Partial rotation of militias for site-specific work (say, reconstruction or guarding of projects in other areas of the country), but no patrols or raids.
  22. Make it a sweet deal to serve (extra pay, less danger, compensatory privileges afterward as this will tend to be isolated duty), and the troops will love being sent away for a while. Not having Sunnis on patrol in Kurdish areas, and vice-versa, will do well to mollify tensions. Guarding strategic projects, or working on clearly beneficial public works duties will be good PR and limit things going pear-shaped.
  23. Give a choice cut of oil revenues to the producing provinces, to ease the acceptance (or tolerance) of nationalizing control of the oil industry. Some of a lot for no risk will buy off a lot of violence. Also, agree to production ceilings by field, those ceilings set by the provinces who understandably will want to have some say in how much of their oil wealth is siphoned away. Or, for ornery provinces, deny them this say. Carrot and stick.
  24. Did I mention that the death squads have to go? That's the sine qua non.
  25. Present the Badr (and SCIRI) with an ultimatum: End the death squads, give the Iraq central government some bodies to through over the wall to the howling Sunni mob, confess and repudiate past atrocities in return for amnesty and (for the worst) retirement from, ah, civil service. Else, be ended the old-fashioned way.
  26. Pressure the Iraqi central government to purge its ruling coalition of MPs and ministerial officials who are closely affiliated with the death squads. If they refuse, well, that would make the next step very simple for the Americans: Withdraw protection of the Iraqi central government and its ministers, and take care of the aiders and abettors of terrorism per the (God, can't believe I am invoking this) Bush doctrine. I'm sure that will sell well.
  27. The Kurds have just about everything they want already, except for assurances that the 250,000 Turkish troops just to their north aren't going to swoop down the moment they openly declare their independence or, if the Iraqi central government folds, that the Turks won't do so pre-emptively. The Americans are the only thing hold the Turks back, and it is uncertain if the Americans are willing to risk a war with their NATO ally over this. So play on that uncertainty over American resolve and capabilities. Well, Kurds, we just don't know what we'll do, what with this new Congress coming in and the American people wanting out of Iraq...
  28. Compel some letter of understanding between Ankara and Kirkuk, and truly robust and heartfelt support by the Kurds for an Iraqi central government. In return the Turks will stand down most (not all) of their troops from the northern border of Iraq and even proceed with expanding trade ties and opening up additional border crossings into Kurdish areas of Iraq. Else...sorry, out of time, Kurds. Looks like we need to be relocating to Kuwait and the UAE now. Hey, you might want to ask that Turkish army over the border there to help you out with security...
  29. A similar commitment -- to trade with, not threats against the Kurds -- needs to be obtained from the Turks by the Americans. Keeping a base or two, perhaps, oh, two divisions and deployment of significant air assets to fields in Kurdish regions of Iraq, would work were as insurance.
  30. Get regional Sunni players involved in securing Sunni regions of Iraq and, they have to be willing to do this, knocking heads when it comes to dealing with armed groups that refuse to disband or integrate into the proposed provincial guards. As likely, this means Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (whoda thunk it? Kuwaiti troops in Baghdad!) and Egypt. Heck, the Turks will have 250,000 troops free from threatening Kurds with nothing better to do. Send some of 'em south to central Iraq. This may well be a welcome proposal...but it has to come from the Arabs at the invitation of the Iraqis.
  31. Securing that invitation will be another tough diplomatic task of the Americans, as the current Iraqi central government is Shia-dominated.
  32. Did I mention clearing out the death squads was important?
  33. Forget foreign fighters; they are so not the problem at the moment it's not even funny. Fix relations among the Iraqi factions, the interlopers will be isolated, frustrated, and as likely turn in agitation on their erstwhile Iraqi friends who will, ah, correct that situation on their own dime, in their own good time.
  34. The Americans need to stop addressing specific factions or ethnic groups as threats. The threat is factionalism, period. That is what the policy needs to be, and doctrine needs to address. Either fight out-of-control vigilantism -- all of it -- or get the hell out. There is no in-between. Scare the scary people effectively, or leave. And, as I've risked saying already, I think complete departure is very bad. I know few people are for that, yet it's imperative to stress that we are talking a long, hard slog just getting out of Iraq, here, even with every intention of doing so.
  35. Transitioning to United Nations command of the peacekeeping operations in Iraq requires that there be a credible peacekeeping operation in place in Iraq. That means identifying (a) who's fighting (b) who benefits from there being peace, (c) protecting them, not oilfields, (d) stopping the fighting factions, with their destruction if necessary, and (e) doing so in conjunction with a legitimate (not death squad-infiltrated) central government, that (f) agrees that a UN mission is a good thing, as opposed to say a Islamic peacekeeper coalition.
  36. Which brings up another thing. Hey, if the Iranians want to get involved, they can start by taking up security ops in the Shia regions and shutting down militia groups there, helping integrate militias into the Iraqi provincial guards, and doing so in concert with American forces.
  37. Which raises one of the toughest challenges of all - as only Nixon could go to China, guess who needs to go to Teheran. We have more cordial relations with North Korea than with Iran, and that Kim Jong-il dude's just plain crazy! I think it's time to get something out of this mess, and it's the resumption of (cold, resentful, contentious) diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran. This current tell-that-person-I'm-not-speaking-to-them attitude is childish and sets a bad example for the other nation-states. It's time for both Teheran and Washington to grow up.

Wrap

So, there you have it. A lot at one sitting, a lot that will please neither Dems nor Pubs, Kurds, Shia, or Sunni, Americans or Turks or Iranians or Iraqis.

Sorry, though. You want grown-up solutions, though, you're gonna have to work through a lot of hangups and with a lot of people and concepts and choices you'd as soon would just go away.

But Iraq's not going away, neither is the very real danger of what is currently happening in Baghdad escalating into a regional if not world war, and quite frankly it remains the responsibility of the Americans -- not the Bushies, but the Americans -- to fix as much as possible on the way out, and I wish I could tell you that we are going to be gone next week and that would be the best course but it's just not so, and over-the-horizon redeployment is not quite acceptable either.

We will have to fight or threaten to do so, in very obvious and dangerous and threatening ways, some of them counter-intuitive, in order to protect from worse loss of life, worse threats than large bombs going off in crowded marketplaces. Try very large bombs going off, one after the other, all across the region, and possibly all across the planet.

We don't get to leave, because it would truly set off a genocide. We don't get to leave, because the Yugoslavification of Iraq would create a war zone that could last for two decades, just like the one in the Balkans, only far more unstable, far more dangerous to global security and the world economy, and far deadlier to those who made the bad choice of being born in raised in their own country, one that no longer served the interests of people who are starting to think that, perhaps, one less Iraq means a tighter leash on all the other oil-producing countries, and that might be worth the risk of letting Iraq fall into chaos.

So, I think, at the end of the day, we're going to have to stay involved, actively involved as opposed to being a neverending Republican talking point, and that means risk. That means death, and violence and making demands -- demands that will resisted by everybody in the region, in all or in part.

If we even pretend to have a moral high ground, we should take some effort to step back onto it. If we are fighting for oil production, that's not it. If we are fighting to stop a genocide, to make in part right what we have so far made so terribly wrong, then we might well be on the path to atonement.

Not forgiveness, not yet. We need to get our souls back first.

Display:


Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 06:01:22 PM EST
Great read.

This still sounds too much like "only we (US) can save the world", except that you also make it clear that we (US) are not likely to succeed.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 06:27:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and presently who has the resources free to do much of anything in Iraq otherwise?

Now, if the Europeans can add Iraq to their existing portfolio of Afghanistan, Lebanon and (looking like) Sudan, sure. Go for it.

I don't see it happening.

Nor do I see backing off and letting another Yugoslavia happen -- violent partition -- as being a morally or strategically good call.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 06:36:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Having (violently) manufactured the autonomous Kurdistan, and (violently) manufactured a failed state in the rest, violent partition hasn't happened yet only because none of the parts have declared themselves independent. But do you really want the US to play the role of the Yugoslav Federal Army in preventing partition? Only the Pottery Barn rule makes continued US presence in Iraq a necessity.

I don't know why international intervention has to be by "the West" (if it ain't America it has to be Europe), by the way. Someone should convene a conference of all the Iraqi factions and all of Iraq's neighbours and ask them bluntly whether they want to get involved in a replay of WWI. Because, really, if they don't fix it themselves, nobody will.

Sometimes you just want the vandal to leave the pottery store - don't even pay what you broke, just.get.out.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 06:45:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not appreciate it at all.

I named the first likely source of major peacekeeping forces, based on historical precedent and current capabilities.

You have yet to propose anything, Migeru, or anyone other who should/could do something.

Who, if not the West?

Russia? Doubt it.
China? Doubt it even more.
India? Doubt it most of all.
Pakistan? Except for that.
Brazil? Maybe, if the West pays for it.
Japan? Might as well be the West.

Just let nature take its course?

Okay.

I predict 2-3 million casualties if we do that.

And the West will be drawn right back into the fray, regardless. Only there will be 2-3 million less people to thank us for saving them, on account we did not.

Fine. Not like every large country in Europe hasn't bled at least that much, often by the hands of countrymen. Consider it a trial by firebombing.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:24:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whatever happens, Iraqis will certainly not end up thanking US for saving them. Where have I heard that one before?

I understand the West will be drawn right back into the fray if things flare up and oil stops flowing, but as we discussed in connection with the rumoured US attack on Iran, all it takes is for a single tanker to sink at Hormuz and there's not much the West can do about that anyway. One thing we've seen in Iraq is how easy it is to sabotage oil infrastructure, and putting "boots on the ground" is unlikely to help unless you put a heckuva lot of troops on the ground and basically carve out little Crusader States in Basra and Kirkuk whose only purpose would be to produce oil and forget about the rest of the country. I am sure the Pentagon has contingency plans for that, too.

I see the situation as being beyond repair. It's been 30 months of fuckup after fuckup. When do you cut your losses?

And how many casualties do you predict if we follow your 37-point plan? Only 1 to 1.5 million instead of 2-3 million? We already have 600k.

Who needs to fix this, if not "the West"? Well, Iraq's neighbours and factions: Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq(s). [See your Point 11] That to begin with. Then if you want an international force you'd have to use Muslims. Remember how in Yugoslavia peacekeepers were carefully chosen to match the religion of their areas of deployment? Spanish and French among Croats, Russians among Serbs, Turks among the muslims? Why do we insist on sending Western troops to Iraq? How about Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco? You could even put together Shia battallions without having to use Iranian troops if you think Neighbours shouldn't be directly involved.

The US is not a source of peacekeeping forces. Peacekeeping is not a US capability, based on historical precedent.

And I apologise if I put words in your mouth, that was not my intention and I honestly don't know what exactly you think I put in your mouth.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 03:22:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's it's okay for Europeans to take pains to prevent destabilization and genocide in Europe, and it's okay for Americans to do likewise (in Europe), but nowhere else.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:08:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Me not understand.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
as it served European purposes that the Americans got involved in the Balkans.

Just as if ever Spain comes to be under attack from across the Mediterranean, that Spanish views on American use of military force will once again be very positive.

Amazing, how it's all a function of whose house is burning on a given night.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:14:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain was hung out to dry by France, Britain and then the US just 70 years ago. What are we talking about here?

Oh, and regarding war with Morocco, Aznar and his ministers got themselves a splendid little military action over an uninhabited rock in the summer of 2002 (wiki). Never been more embarrassed in my whole life, and then the Minister of Defence said that "ordering military action" had been the proudest moment of his tenure. Never mind that, for all his poodlehood, Aznar couldn't get the US on his side for that.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:25:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of people here (me included) have expressed our displeasure with the way the Kosovo campaign was carried out, so don't give me crap about US involvement in the Balkans.

UpstateNY has given a view of US diplomacy in the Balkans that is not very charitable either, and that nobody has been able to dispute with facts.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:27:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US is not a source of peacekeeping forces. Peacekeeping is not a US capability, based on historical precedent.

That's the main point. That the US can provide 'forces' doesn't mean they are qualified for the job; evidence shows they are qualified at making tings worse.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:40:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just let nature take its course?

Okay.

I predict 2-3 million casualties if we do that.

If "The West" stays, it could be 2-3 million drawn out over a longer time, and again 2-3 million after the inevitable pullout. I think you're not facing up to how much fucked-up the situation and how much incapable Western (US) leaders and soldiers are of dealing with the situation. What you wrote in your first diary about the groupthink of the US foreign policy elite is valid for any future decisions by US troop leaders on the ground and their political bosses 10,000 miles away.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This seems to me like a case of arsonist fire fighters.

For the US right now, it is damned if you do, damned if you don't, unfortunately, and no electoral victory is going to change that. Bush is determined to stay the course until January 2009 so it clows up in someone else's face.

I still fail to see the need for me to enlist and go get myself killed in Mesopotamia. When I do, my opinion about foreign intervention will change.

Someone said once WWII was "the last war worth fighting". For Europeans that's probably the case.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:32:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're missing a line break at point 17.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 07:04:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
whew, you play some mean keys there, man.

i am nonplussed by how well-intentioned and researched your points are, and more so by your conclusions.

kudos for playing devil's advocate so well, but i wonder if you were.

you understand the situation's myriad complexities much better than i, so i will not try and argue your points.

you have done your homework, fo sho.

i just hate to think you are right about your conclusions, it goes against every grain i hold dear.

i just can't buy dropping one more bomb, even it it did do what you think it would.

let alone a string of big ones.

you make so much sense, and blog it really well, but there's something over-the-top about the big stick approach, and though your tone is hip and familiar, especially about the death squads, could you possibly have a blind spot about breaking more china on your way out?

not to be polemic or divisive here, but this could only have been written by an american, i think.

we're kinda wussy here when it comes to this kind of overlording. maybe we've had our fill of trying to write others' histories for them by force, maybe i'm just an ignorant wally and your way will be proven right.

fighting fire with fire...

the women, children, sick and old will always be the ones who suffer most, while these sorts of theories of TOTAL DOMINATION through IRRESISTIBLE FORCE, (it's for their own good, damnit), just seem to perpetuate the problem even more...

can we please think of better ways to bring peace?

very good overview, masterblogging at its finest.

pity about the rubble-as-clean-slate, firepower-as-ultimate-decider conclusions, or i'd recc.  

hope i didn't put any words in your mouth...

thanks for the lively explanations anyway...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 10:14:12 PM EST
Who have an express desire to do harm to as many disagreeable  people without them as they possibly can, someone is going to have to step in and defend them.

Of course, we could pull another Rwanda and let them sort it out themselves...

...then proceed to destabilize the entire Congo Basin afterward...

...but perhaps that's the exception to the rule, and the theory is still sound that if you let genocides happen in one country unimpeded, then all that aggression will work itself out and none of the neighbors need be concerned.

Oops. Forgot about what happened to the rest of Europe after the Germans were finished killing off all their disagreeable people.

But maybe that, too, is an odd case.

I mean, it's not like the Serbs tried to export ethnic cleansing into Bosnia or anything.

Oh, snap. They did. Wow, I keep hitting all the losers, here.

Or, more recently, that if we just let the Janjawid do their thing in Darfur, they would inconveniece no one but folks in some podunk province of Sudan.

Crikey. The Janjawid are raiding into Chad these days.

Sorry.

Looks like genocide's one of those global problems that don't stay nicely tucked away in any one country.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:56:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
someone is going to have to step in and defend them

Maybe Sheriff "Uncle" Sam could give up vigilantism and build an international "police" through the UN?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:58:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We should just let the different separatist and ethnic groups have their way...

...and the Basques will have their own state, and Catalonia will become its own country, too.

There.

Problem solved.

And it would be evil and wrong for an overbearing Madrid regime to interfere in any way.

I mean, who can make sure the Spanish stay in their seats and behave? :)

Point of exercise

Wow, things sure do look different from this side of the table.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:59:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why are you responding in such a tense way?

I don't think what we see in Spain today is a large foreign military trying to keep apart ethnic militias.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:02:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A subtext that runs about like this: The US needs to be exposed for the evil, overbearing superpower that it is and the worse Iraq falls apart, the more people die as a direct consequence of American militarism, the sooner the world will embrace internationalism and place in check, at long last, the last and worst of the unilaterist nation-states.

I suppose I don't see any moral or strategic good served by spending a large number of other people's lives, just to score points in an ongoing ideological debate.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:28:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
State your "defeat condition". When do you cut your losses and give up?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:33:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know what is the difference between Northern Ireland and the Basque Country?

Spain hasn't deployed the army against ETA since Franco died, and possibly even before that.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:10:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like genocide's one of those global problems that don't stay nicely tucked away in any one country.

If there is a genocide in the offing in Iraq, who unleashed it, pray tell?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:02:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the history books would be an outright evil decision.

And for those with no power to decide but want it to be so, an evil wish.

In the true, philosophical definition of the term, not the bastardized version en vogue these days.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:54:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
csk, please note that there's a civil war on in Iraq ALREADY, swirling about the US's feet and between its legs. Deathtoll already over 3000 a month and seems there's NOTHING your forces are able to do to stop it or even prevent the worst massacres. I'm not saying you're not TRYING to do something to stop/contain it as I know your commanders are extremely concerned. However, your forces' freedom of movement is heavily limited due to the hostility of the population towards US troops (and it's mutual...) everywhere except in Kurdistan... So mostly your forces stay in their bases or concentrate on securing the Green Zone... So when the massacres happen, neither US nor "Iraqi Army" forces are anywhere in sight far as I know, and even when they are they're not able to do anything useful.
NO way US forces can provide the kind of massive "grass roots" neighbourhood security police-patrols that would be needed. So the local militias are doing their own neighbourhood patrolling and if something gets through and hits their people they then do a vengeance raid nex day - not all that different from your own military philosophy?  All in all, I don't really think the presence of US forces has any "peace enforcing" effect on the sectarian strife, can't stop the ethnic cleansing - neighbourhood by neighbourhood, village by village, that has been going on for over a year.  European troops in the midst of an Arab sectarian war - once it is in full spate -would be just as powerless, so would 3rd world troops, so would anyone not local. Problem is POLITICAL not military or policing ... all that's just a bandaid until the political framework evolves.

So whether you go or stay, at this point the bloodshed will continue and your forces have no way of stopping it - no set battles so no set enemy, might as well try to control fleas with a bazooka.

But on the less-gloomy side, the ethnic-cleansing process is probably fairly advanced by now so the Sunnis and Shi'ites will tend to consolidate control of their own enclaves and securitize them... which may mean a lull. There will be occasional massacre-foray cycles which can kill dozens at a time which add up to thousands... but this state of affairs is unlikely to cause millions of deaths - as your forces have satellite images, have air patrols so CAN stop any massed army-type movements flooding from one sectarian zone over another.  

Take a look at the history of the Lebanese civil war and multiply by five for larger population.  Total deaths in Lebanon's decades of horror were around 120,000 FAIK? Iraqis have already suffered hundreds of thousands with around 130,000 US forces IN THE COUNTRY. Bringing in Pakistanis or Spaniards or Swedes or whoever at this point would make practically NO difference, there's a vendetta-war going on and a very dirty one... a context in which no-one can work miracles. No way to stop this kind of dirty mutual guerrilla war by FORCE... simply adding carnage to the carnage.  When thelocals+neighbours decide they've had enough and want to start working out some initial truce-agreements - and they will, the living conditions are just about unbearable already - don't lay down conditions, let them work it out.


"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 12:05:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gemayel dude got offed to kind of rule out talking to Syria. The Baker report's useful recommendations aint going to be implemented by no neo-con administration.
by observer393 on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 11:15:11 PM EST
That bad things happen to good people whenever the Bushies require it of them.

The challenge to the Baker Boys is that the regional players aren't waiting for permission from the Bush Administration to talk with Iraq about solving what threatens to be their problem.

Turkey, Iran and Syria cooperating to hold Iraq together for mutual benefit and to preclude any excuse for the Americans to remain is unwelcome information in Washington.

They'd as soon accelerate Iraq's disintegration rather than endure the creation of such a bloc.

I suspect there's at least one more country in the Middle East that would do  anything to prevent that occurrence, as well.

Nope, not Israel. Saudi Arabia.


Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:30:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With those trappings, how is a regional war avoidable at all?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:32:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
to mitigate such difficulties.

Getting the Iranians and the Saudis to get over themselves, Iran foreswearing revolutionary struggle versus the kingdom might go a long way toward appeasing the Saudis. The Saudis relaxing limitations on Shia in their dominion might be a nice quid pro quo. Start with the little things.

As for Washington and Teheran: The American populace is very cold to the idea of a preemptive war versus Iranian nuclear sites, but should Iranian Revolutionary Guards start showing up in Iraq uninvited (by the Americans, that is) war could break out (snap!) just like that and it would be an easy sell back in America.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:44:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So basically you want the US to broker a detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Right.

And supposing that is possible, how does the US control Israel's hissy fit?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:48:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And decoupling American interests from Israeli ones strikes me as an unqualified good.

Let them have a tantrum. It will make distancing American policy from that of Israel all the easier...and imperative.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:11:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First, do no harm.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:12:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which at this point a rapid extraction of US forces from Iraq would generate.

Oh, and cause that regionwide war which would most certainly threaten Europen interests, so NATO (including Spain) would most certainly become involved.

So, we'd not only make the current patient worse, but create new casualties -- in a larger set of countries.

Which might happen, regardless.

I submit we need to separate an appetite for justice vis a vis the Bush Administration (and Americans by association) from preventing a possible world war.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:19:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First you beat up the patient to a bloody pulp and now you expect me to follow your advice on how not to make the patient worse?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or that I spoke for the government that did so.

Or that in any civilized or intelligent conversation, that I would ever imagine myself as being castigated for speaking on behalf of a government that I am pleased to see brought down a notch by the recent elections here in the United States.

No one gets everything that they want out of the crisis in Iraq. Not you, not me, not Iran, not Bush, not the Democrats, not Europe, no one.

We need to set aside mistakenly-perceived conflicts of ideology, and ask ourselves how to keep a very bad situation in Iraq from becoming a very bad situation for the entire region.

I gather your position is that that the Americans' presence is the problem, that many good or at least less bad things will arise once the Americans are gone.

Just so there's no missing it

I tossed up a lot of proposals, more than can ever be implemented, many of which are mutually exclusive, to start not conclude discussion.

I was hoping for discussion of the particular points, not being cornered into a categorical defense of whether or not the Americans are an inherently destructive element of world affairs.

That's how I feel this has turned out.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:19:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ignore everything I said, then.

We need to set aside mistakenly-perceived conflicts of ideology, and ask ourselves how to keep a very bad situation in Iraq from becoming a very bad situation for the entire region.

It's not us, it's them. It's their region. If they want our help, they'll ask for it. It's a real pity all the governments in the region are either US puppets or US clients or don't have diplomatic relations with the US, because that means the US just can't get an honest answer to "what do you want US to do in Iraq?".

I mean, come on, I agree with you what needs to happen: the US needs to sit down at the same table with Turkey, Syria, Iran and Saudi (and the Iraqis), and not only talk to them but let them talking to each other. How in the world is that going to happen? Do you really believe all it took is the November 7 election result? You're asking for a diplomatic miracle, and then some luck in the implementation.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:26:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...which may fail, rather than a silence that is failing utterly right before our eyes.

Tell you what...I'd like to review and revise my proposals given this valuable, albeit tense, familiarization with the European perspective.

It was a healthy reminder that internationalism is alive and well and living in Brussels, and just because we here in America have all but forgotten about it does not mean that the rest of the world has.

I'll see what I can come up with in the way of a rewrite, and I'll send it back your way.

You are correct; those who need our help will most certainly ask for it, or choose to perish rather than endure our 'help' ever again.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:34:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tell you what...I'd like to review and revise my proposals given this valuable, albeit tense, familiarization with the European perspective.

Just wait for other feedback, I may yet find myself in the minority "in Brussels".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:38:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's how I feel this has turned out.

I'm afraid that it looks to me that you came expecting it and thus found it.

Your plan, or collection of plans is unworkable unless the US, under the Bush administration, suddenly develops an unprecedented sense of humilty. It's not going to happen. So, either:

a) You impeach Bush and his cronies and appoint a President capable of dealing with the problem immediately.

b) Or you take the next worst option and leave, hoping to hell that it was the best choice you could make.

The death toll in Iraq is already comparable to the Armenian massacres/genocides.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:34:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not say "do nothing at all". But if you think for the US diplomacy in its current post-Bush/Rice/Bolton state to broker an agreement between the Wahhabi and the Ayatollahs is a realistic goal, I have a bridge over the Euphrates that I'd like to sell you.

I mean, is this really the necessary condition for a solution to the Middle East mess?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a non sequitur.

And in my opinion an inaccurate and unfair conflation of my postings and the pronouncements of the Bush administration.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:07:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to carry out your 37-point plan with the US military and diplomatic corps you have, not the one you'd like to have.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:12:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
just because I know they will be well-received.

Presently, I find a strong correlation between my saying something and it being objectionable to you.

Which in fact encourages me greatly to say lots more. :)


Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:29:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just state a condition that needs to be met for you to advocate admitting defeat, packing up and leaving. There has to be something.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:34:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
might qualify.

Or its collapsing entirely...a condition that is very close to taking place.

This is moot, as the Americans are now intent on leaving, anyway; it's just a question of negotiating the least painful, most face-saving severance package.

I'm intent on leaving anyway, it's just a question of securing guarantees that a genocide won't be added to the butcher's bill. And, no; no one will ever thank the United States for doing that. It's just the right thing to do.

Again, there is this view that this is about victory.

No, it's about preventing further loss of life and reducing the risk of wider war in the Middle East..

And we need to stay focused on that. Talk a bout victory is irrelevant now. The war's over, and it's already a loser.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:44:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And supposing that is possible, how does the US control Israel's hissy fit?

Ahhhh would be a pleasure... :-)

Allow me: just tell 'em at long long last to shut up an' sit still for once, or else:

- you'll freeze their aid-billions even frozener than you froze the Palestinians' aid-millions...

and if that's not enough, you'll...

- lock Bolton in the little boys' room at UN HQ next time Qatar fields a UNSC resolution charging them with crimes against humanity and demanding they get right back where they were in 1967 with no talking-back

and if even that's not enough, you'll...

- slip something into Bush's ever-extended glass to make him even more malleable then sweet-talk him into inviting Ahmadinejad to visit him in Texas so they can first cosy up chorusing Hallelujah Allah Akhbar Issa is our personal saviour and Mohammed is his best-ever prophet since MatthewMarkLukenJohn then rush outside an' run around the ranch at top speed in ever-narrowing circles stoning the Dajjal in the form of a hitching-post, finish up the evening comparing notes on End Times Revelations...

But if they sit tight and quiet as can be, with no hissy-fits:

- you'll untie the purse-strings an inch at a time and ...maybe even let 'em keep Ma'aleh Adumim and Ariel.  

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great attempt to bring it all together, compliments!

Now for the nitpicks.


The Shia in the middle, Mehdi Army supporters, mostly, will be largely written off, as the Iranian-supported Badr prevail both in the fictional central government and in the upcoming Shiastan. They will not go down without taking a lot of Baghdad with them. This is currently happening right before our eyes.

I think you're underestimating al Sadr, he has truly immense support amongst the poorer (i.e. most numerous) Shi'ites, not just in Sadr City. He currently has 30% of the Shi'ite block in parliament but if you nose-count on the ground his support is almost certainly much larger - and he operates in a way very similar to Nasrallah: social services, local policing etc etc. It had seemed he might be losing control of at least part of his followers, but take a look at this - the organisational capabilities and discipline they showed on the occasion of the devastating bombings in Sadr City didn't spring up from nowhere - Moqtada is looking more and more like a Shi'ite Iraqi Nationalist Nasrallah.  

Al Hakim of SCIRI (Badr) doesn't do any of this stuff... but as well as running the Min. of the Interior deathsquads I have the impression that SCIRI has the allegiance of several Southern power-groups so can't be eradicated, same goes for Dawa and Fadilah. Plus the central Badr forces control Karbala, were already Pasdaran-trained, have also by now at least partly been US-trained in contra-style mayhem techniques, and are said to number anything up to 10,000 men with heavy weaponry.

....

So I'd say forget about the US crushing the Shi'ite militias - can't happen short of genocide.  Double-forget about crushing the Kurdish Peshmerga who are ethnic-cleansing in Mosul and Kirkuk. Triple-forget about crushing the Sunni militias both Ba'athist and Salafi - despite US-razed and semi-razed cities they control practically all Anbar plus Sunni neighbourhoods in Baghdad.

If the US was capable of eradicating them it would have done so already - but the more it bombs the more local support they win, so forget it... foreign brute-force solutions are pure vicious circles.  If the US hadn't played so tough with the Sunnis at the start they wouldn't have built up such a collective hate on the Shi'ites viewed as opportunistic collaborators... and  etc etc in vicious circle mode.  Too late in the game to expect to be able to turn back the clock.

So the problem is not about "winning" as it's NOT solvable by military force - unless of course the US has suddenly become capable of fielding an expert, panic-proof, overkill-proof Arabic-speaking ground army of around 500,000 men, expertly trained in security policing, peacekeeping and conflict resolution - preferably devoutly Muslim in faith and appropriately sected i.e. around 2/3 shi'ite 1/3 sunni and not linked to any ambitious ME neighbour-land?

I.e. eradicating the militias is impossible short of genocide so it's not "the problem" - which should be rephrased as "how to get Iraq to the point where a POLITICAL solution is brokered that will induce the various militias to lay down their arms" (or at least sacrifice a few piles of AK-47s for the cameras and stash the rest  discretely away...).  

Think Lebanon not California - i.e. how to broker (or get others to broker) a Lebanese-type/Ulster-type multi-sectarian-balance system (including oilrights-sharing) as the only solution that can gradually get the various factions to agree to stay within their own territorial limits and respect those of others..  and stash away their arms.

Unlikely to be a quick fix, and will require a lot of proxying from Iraq's various neighbours plus assorted middlemen.  Best thing the US can do is let them get on with it - neither Saudis nor Iranians nor Syrians nor Jordanians nor Turks want a regional war so they all have a big interest in getting Iraq "restabilized" as soon as possible, or at any rate before they themselves get sucked in, thus finding themselves obliged to fight each other's large, heavily equipped armies... so all prepared to play around a bit for advantage, none eager for involvement in a real, full-scale war.  

So for at least a year or so - if lucky - the US will have to stay in like it or not, but FAIK the more politically passive it remains the better. What it must NOT do is the kind of vetoing/obstructing of Iraqi/Saudi/Iranian interweavings and initiatives it has been doing so far. The object of its presence should be simply to assure a truly effective barrier to prevent any one group blatantly overrunning and exterminating any other - more or less like a kind of cork in the devils-brew bottle?  Certainly wouldn't hurt to start establishing phased departure timetables like the Brits have been doing, would if nothing else get the neighbours really worried - i.e. worried enough to get seriously busy on peace-brokering attempts amongst the sectarian/ethnic factions... can always extend the deadlines later if really necessary.  May not play well "at home" but outside the US the perils of civil war spreading to regional war are so evident that lesser-evil temporary stay-overs would not scandalise.

Ultimate US position should be that it keeps a few permanent bases in the Kurdistan zone around the oilfields for reasons of mutual convenience and security/limits guarantee with both the Kurds AND Turks, thus gets out of the Sunni zone where it is seriously hated and avoids entering the Shi'ite south were it's ditto - but still remains close enough to prevent the AQ-linked Salafis (only guys it should really worry about) coming out top of the heap and founding a mini-caliphate as regional power-base. Would also be a good idea if it cut its forces in the Arab Gulf-states so as not to continue providing a pretext for jihadis, be content with being accepted in Kurdistan?

I've been obsessing on Iraq for the last 4 years, this is all I can come up with in the way of input - call it my vision of a ... not so much a solution as a route towards a solution?

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 02:03:14 AM EST
I was suggesting pressure their normalization into the Iraqi security infrastructure. Heck, they're already trained and have local support. As for groups that refuse to stop, well, there are ways to marginalize them...then pick off the diehards. As you say: Ulster-style.

I'm all for the region taking the lead, yet some American brokerage will be required to keep both the Iraqi internal factions and the external players honest and in their seats during the delicate transition. We're not done just yet, whether we'd like or not.

I think the biggest piece internally remains neutralizing the death squads. They are bad news all-around. They simply have to go, or have their chosen calling made so dangerous for them that they elect to become ex-death squads. This is just the right thing to do.

Externally, it's mend fences with Iran. Period. That's the sine qua non of the deal. We simply must stop this childish bickering, both Teheran and Washington.

The question is what price we are now going to have to pay (likely, wars we will have to forego, as if that's a bad thing) in order to make this happen.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:38:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think some brokerage will be needed to keep the Americans honest and in their seats. I just can't imagine who would be able to provide it.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:42:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Still I'm sure, oh, Spain never did anything wrong back in its prime.

Nope. The New World (and the Old, for that matter) never had it so good.

A pity England never saw fit to allow itself to receive that fleet of missionaries back in 1588.

No telling how wonderful the planet might have turned out, all decked out in red and gold...

Purpose of that

I think the Americans have had their Spanish Armada moment; if the Iranians can act so boldly vis a vis Iraq, it probably means that checking American freedom of action is a done deal.

Then there was that recent election here. It's not like the Spanish are the only ones who can have elections that result in positive developments vis a vis Iraq policy.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:49:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Still I'm sure, oh, Spain never did anything wrong back in its prime.

We're still paying the price 300 years later.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:50:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Still I'm sure, oh, Spain never did anything wrong back in its prime.

Have you heard of Bartolome de Las Casas?

You're using the wrong kind of rhetoric on me. You don't have to convince me that Spain is not the last best hope of Mankind. Maybe you use Spain, that you know that well, to learn by counterexample?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:41:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the problem is not about "winning" as it's NOT solvable by military force - unless of course the US has suddenly become capable of fielding an expert, panic-proof, overkill-proof Arabic-speaking ground army of around 500,000 men, expertly trained in security policing, peacekeeping and conflict resolution - preferably devoutly Muslim in faith and appropriately sected i.e. around 2/3 shi'ite 1/3 sunni and not linked to any ambitious ME neighbour-land?

Exactly my thinking. (And it might be more like 1,500,000 than 500,000.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:43:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The object of its presence should be simply to assure a truly effective barrier to prevent any one group blatantly overrunning and exterminating any other

How do you imagine that? Also following from what I quoted from you before, the US is not capable of even that. With no clear ethnic boundaries (yet) and strong militias on all sides, the US military cannot ensure the coverage to ward off even large-scale attacks, even if that would be its aim and it would know who is who on the ground.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:50:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US equipment can't distinguish sneaky neighbourhood-level urban movements but can perceive mass or large-scale movements with weaponry on roads or across land. So at least theoretically it should be capable of heading off any big offensive, blocking the fighters with heavy armoured vehicles, preventing their advance?  US would probably prefer to airstrike which tends to result in the same or higher victim-count as if they'd done nothing at all, just let the two local militias fight it out with one another - main diff being that the casualties that way are on one side at a time?  

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 12:31:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus the central Badr forces control Karbala, were already Pasdaran-trained, have also by now at least partly been US-trained in contra-style mayhem techniques, and are said to number anything up to 10,000 men with heavy weaponry.

Plus, they diverted the billions the US poured and pours into its proxy security services and ministries to arm themselves.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:01:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not know for my patriotism so the you-too knee-jerk statements about the Spanish Armada (350 years ago by an absolute monarch, you've got to be kidding me!) or Basque independentism (rather misplaced both in the view of the Basque Country and of Spain's anti-ETA fighting) just don't have the desired effect.

Now, if I were Aznar you might get an argument. Or rather, you wouldn't because, as he would be telling you you're a softie, you wouldn't have the occasion to hurl at him the ad hominems you hurl at me.

Good luck saving the world. We have a word in Spanish for something similar, salvapatrias ["saviour of the Fatherland"].

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 10:20:59 AM EST
And ad hominem implies that I am coming after your personal creds, which is simply not so.

I am fascinated by how exercised you are about this.

It says more than I ever could about you...and far more accurately.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:05:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Instead of addressing any of my points, you just say "how about Spain"?

Call that an ad patriam argument.

Your plan can't work, can't you see it? It's pure hubris.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:08:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So...pressuring for integration of the existing militias is bad?

Ditto diplomacy vis a vis Iran?

Purging death squads from the Iraqi ministries is bad?

Drawing down US forces is bad?

Discouraging separatism is bad?

Worrying less about protecting oil infrastructure and more about protecting Iraqi civilians is bad?

In what way is emphasis on diplomacy, integration of militias into the central security apparatus, purging of death squads, drawdown of US forces in Iraq unworkable and wrong?

I submit your objection is one over-simple point: Americans are involved, ergo this is all bad.

That's unsupportable.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:25:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you saying all it takes is trying? It's a matter of willpower? Can the situation possibly be too fucked up for anyone to impose a solution from the outside? Because that is the problem. You still think you can design a plan of action and "win in Iraq".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:30:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I personally couldn't care less.

This is about preventing worse devastation and wider war.

My concern is exclusive to these two goals.

If the Americans' absolute departure serves that agenda, so be it.

If the Americans' continued, largely unwelcome presence in Iraq does so, so be it.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:37:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Unfortunately.

How do you decide with any confidence which of the options leads to fewer millions of deaths?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:39:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, his objection is twofold:

a) The US, in it's current state cannot and will not implement your plans.  A Bush-run administration will not allow it. They are not capable of the diplomacy required. It's not capable of purging death squads. It's not willing to take part in diplomacy with Iran. The current administration is, after six years, deeply and fundamentally incapable of doing these things. It doesn't matter if they're told to do them, forced to do them or anything else: their philosophy and ideology is so opposed to taking the  required actions that they'll screw them up and make things worse. Shit, they screw up everything when they're trying to do things they believe in. How badly can they get it wrong when they're relucant or outright hostile to the course they're forced onto?

b) Even if the US was willing, capable and had the requisite military and non-military power available (which is questionable after its Armada moment) it is very far from certain that it would work.

Iraq is fucked all the way up. It's probably beyond fixing: believe me, if I thought that more US/UK casualities would help the Iraqi people I'd have no problem with that. I don't believe that it would help.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 11:41:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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