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An Answer for Iraq

by Sven Triloqvist Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 09:31:08 AM EST

The Enclave Solution by David Sinclair

This is not my diary. It is the work of a friend and colleague - an American living in Europe - who is new to community blogs, so I am helping out in getting exposure. David is a respected scientist. He will be around to take part in the discussion later. But I let him speak for himself in this diary.

An interesting & important diary. Summary and complete proposal below the fold. -- Jrme
Now crossposted on DailyKos


Few new suggestions have appeared for dealing with the situation in Iraq and none based on an understanding of the causes for the problems. Most suggestions have focused on only the single dimension how many American troops should be in Iraq: more, the same, less, or none.  The geography of the country provides a different type of solution that might be acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats, should be welcomed by the military, and satisfies the Iraqi people and leaders.

Remove American troops from Iraqi cities, as requested by the Iraqi people, by Iraqi leaders, by the American military, and now by Donald Rumsfeld. Our soldiers will no longer have the horrendous task of trying to police a people the do not know or understand. The Iraqi people will no longer wake up to the sight of an occupying infidel army on their street.  

America reassumes direct responsibility for protecting the Iraqi oil, preventing further sectarian fighting over it and eliminating a primary cause for civil war. We have previously shown benign neglect for the Iraqi oil and passed the responsibility to the British. They outsourced it to a British security company. In 2004 it hired a paramilitary Oil Protection Force controlled by Sunnis.  Shiites retaliated by infiltrating the OPF in 2005 and killing began.  Further sectarian fighting for the oil can be stopped and high security provided for oil production by redeploying about 20% of American troops to the "Enclave": an isolated, easily defended, desert area next to the Kuwait border and the Persian Gulf that produces 71% of the oil and controls most exports.  American soldiers will defend the perimeters of the Enclave, form Quick Reaction Forces, and man a powerful base providing air support throughout Iraq. They will be doing important work suited for their abilities, training, and equipment. We do deserts!

Under strict international scrutiny, all profits are returned to the Iraqi people, paying directly for the army and distributing the rest equally to the 275 constituencies of proportionally elected members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives. Therefore, the oil profits and the resulting power are partitioned fairly among the competing factions (to avoid civil war) without splitting the country (to avoid regional war).

Within the high security of the Enclave, workers from Coalition countries will repair and modernize oil production Natural gas, a by-product of oil production, will once again be readily available for Iraqi use. Oil is exported directly from the Enclave, free from sabotage and theft. Record exports together with current high prices proved profits that when poured back into the country will promote reconstruction and provide a satisfactory standard of living for the Iraqis.

A Solution for Iraq

The midterm election has brought a call for a solution to the problems America is facing in Iraq.  The main concern by most Americans is bringing the soldiers back home.  Meanwhile, the Administration has been saying we cannot cut and run but must stay the course. Others insist we must increase our commitment.  There has been intense debate but all of it has focused on this single dimension: the number of US soldiers in Iraq (>,=,<).  Every point along this line has been carefully examined. It is clear now, however, that simply switching to another point does not offer hope for a solution that would even be considered by all parties, let along be acceptable.
The experts have become very skilled at criticizing positions other than their own along this continuum, but they seem to have become blind to solutions that lie off of the line.  I believe there are better solutions, but we need to step back and take a broader view if we are to see them. In this case, a solution does not need to be out of the two-dimensional envelop in order to be new: it only has to be off of the one-dimensional line.

This paper describes one such program: the Enclave Solution. It is not staying the course, but it leaves America with a stronger military presence in the area than we have today.  It is not cutting and running, but it brings home the vast majority of our soldiers and greatly improves conditions for those remaining in Iraq. It is pragmatic, proposing actions that will work in Iraq rather than what we wish would work.  It takes Iraqi culture as it is, rather than crusading to try to make Iraqis act like us.  It considers the implications not just for us, or even for both Iraq and America, but for the whole world now and in the future.

The Enclave Solution is a comprehensive program. Some specific actions have been recommended earlier, but the program as a whole is different from anything I have seen being proposed.  I hope it will receive a proper consideration, first, as an example that staying and leaving are not the only two options and, second, perhaps as a guide to what really should be done.

A. Requirements.

  • 1. Political. The most important criterion for a solution about what America should do concerning the Iraq situation is being acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats.  It must provide both parties with those outcomes that they consider most critical.  It must maintain a strong military position for America in the area and prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state and a potential breeding ground for terrorists.  At the same time it must bring home most of the American forces and prevent our presence and actions helping recruitment by al Qaeda.

  • 2. Military.. It must stop improper use of America soldiers.  Presently they are being made to be policemen in a place where they do not speak the language, do not understand the culture, and where their very presence as foreign occupiers is an incitement to most of the people. Every cop on the block knows how important it is to know the people, and to command their respect.  American troops should be asked to do jobs for which they are suited, capitalizing on their abilities, training, and equipment.

  • 3. Peace in and around Iraq.. It must recognize that Iraq is really three countries, or more. Much of the trouble in Iraq today is caused by the factions fighting over national resources (particularly the oil and the money from it) and institutions (e.g., the army) that would once again allow one faction to dominate the others. The solution must remove these potential prizes from contention between the factions in order to avoid civil war. Instead, it must partition power to the factions. At the same time, however, Iraq must be maintained as a single entity in order to avoid chaos and war between the countries in the region.

  • 4. Acceptable to Iraqis.. To the average Iraqi, the face of the American soldier outside the door is not that of a liberator; it is the face of an invader. We are an occupying army, and like all occupying armies throughout history, we are hated. An acceptable solution must remove this most critical source of pain, fear, and subjugation from the Iraqi people. It must consider their other grievances including the widespread lack of electricity, gas, and water. It must also attend to what the elected Iraqi leaders are demanding.

  • 5. Culturally appropriate.. The solution must promote a better means for influencing behavior.  The administration has used in Iraq what might be called the Cowboy Approach.  We pull our six-shooters on the people and tell them to do what we want or else.  The Cowboy Approach may have worked among the rugged individualists in the Wild West.  Iraq, however, is an ancient culture with every person being part of an intricate web of relatives and associates. Long ago it developed a successful deterrent to the Cowboy Approach: revenge, vendetta.  An Iraqi facing a gun might say, "If you shoot me, my relatives and associates will torture and kill you and your entire family."  We could try to change the culture to one like ours in which personal revenge is illegal, but we are unlikely to succeed in the near future. We are more likely to succeed if we changed our own approach to one that traditionally has been used in Iraq: we pay leaders for their cooperation and support. The leaders then use part of the money to pay the next echelon of people for their help and loyalty; and these people in turn pay the next layer for their work and allegiance.  Etc., down the line.  In this manner, the State has traditionally been the main employer in Iraq.  

  • 6. Economically successful..  The solution should bring Iraqi oil flowing properly to markets.  Iraqis are addicted to petrodollars.   Long term plans might try to change the situation. But if we want a solution that is going to succeed now, the solution must satisfy the dependence and make proper use of it.  Iraq has missed out on most of the high profits from the current increase in oil prices because lack of security and obsolete equipment has greatly limited production.  Given proper security, the fields could be modernized and oil revenues increased to record levels.  The huge profits could restore Iraqis to a reasonable standard of living.  In turn, restoring the Iraqi oil fields will help stabilize the international oil market, with advantages to consumers in Peoria and in Peking.

B. The Enclave Solution.

Prime Minister Maliki said he told President Bush that Coalition forces must be removed from the Iraqi cities.  The Health Minister of Iraq made the same demand along with his estimate of 150,000 civilian casualties. This is quite reasonable.  The mere sight of American soldiers is painful to the Iraqi people.  For every story we hear of soldiers treating civilians badly, the Iraqis hear ten.  They do not understand the soldiers.  They do not trust the soldiers not to start shooting arbitrarily.  They fear they might be sent to prison, and they have seen the pictures from our prisons.   The sight of our troops is the symbol associated with occupation and the current fighting, and there is at least the hopeful wish heard from the Iraqi people that if the foreign troops were not in the neighborhood, we Iraqis could solve our own problems.
The Administration should announce that it intends complying with the wishes of the Iraqi leaders and the Iraqi people.  American soldiers will be redeployed out of the urban areas beginning at a specified early date.  This action will be celebrated in Iraq as a victory for the present government, which should itself be beneficial for stability.
As many troops as possible should be redeployed to an "Enclave" in southeast Iraq next to the Kuwait border (Fig. 1).  This requires rapid construction at the Enclave, establishing border security and facilities inside for a powerful US military base.  
The Enclave contains about 2% of the total area of Iraq.  To provide the same level of security to the Enclave as in the entire country might indeed only require 2% of the number of troops, i.e., about 3000 soldiers instead of 141,000 now in Iraq.  The goal, however, is to establish a very high level of security.  Probably less than 15,000 would be sufficient.  This is consistent with military estimates that a troop strength 3 to 5 time higher than Rumsfeld committed would have been sufficient to establish adequate security throughout Iraq.

American soldiers in the Iraqi cities today are having difficulty telling the good guys from the bad guys.
 To secure the perimeters of the Enclave, they will have to tell the difference between an insurgent and a rock.  That is doable!  

Redeployment begins almost immediately, removing soldiers from outlying urban posts into the Enclave.  The pace is initially slow for each post, but then when the number of soldiers is approaching the critical limit needed to defend that post, there will be a final move when all of the remaining soldiers are redeployed at one time.  
The primary mission of the soldiers in the Enclave is simply to defend the Enclave, the oil fields, and the oil production machinery from attempts by sectarian insurgents to take it over for the exclusive benefit of one of the three factions, or by terrorists to destroy production capacity.  The methods of the insurgents and terrorists often had an advantage over ours in urban guerrilla warfare.  As demonstrated in Desert Storm and the opening phase of the current Iraqi war, however, the high technology of the American military gives us a strong advantage when fighting in open desert country.

Fig. 1 The Enclave
American forces would be redeployed away from Baghdad and the other cities to this sparsely inhabited area in southwest Iraq. The northern border is the newly restored lake Hawr al Hammar.  The south border is Kuwait and the Persian Gulf, so there are no vulnerable supply lines.  The Enclave contains about 3500 sq miles  (9000 km2), i.e., about 2% of the total area

Another mission is to protect the Iraqi oil fields from foreign attacks.  It is possible that in a civil war, Iran might send in its army to take over the fields on behalf of the Shiite faction. Less likely, the Sunni majority in the Arab world might send in forces to protect the rights of the Iraqi Sunnis to the oil. For this mission, a powerful air force base will be needed in the Enclave.  This base will naturally be less vulnerable than aircraft carriers but at the same time able to deliver a stronger attack. A response can be made much more rapidly from the Enclave than from distant land bases.

The third type of mission will be control of the air space over Iraq and prevention of major military operations by one faction against another.  The street to street policing will be the responsibilities of the Iraqis themselves with their traditional methods.  But if one faction obtains tries to launch a large scale attack against the home territory of another, and especially if they try using tanks and heavy equipment, our control of the air could be help to remove the threat. This would be a major deterrent to full scale civil war.

Most of the area of the Enclave is sparsely populated (Fig. 2). There is one town, the deep water port of Umm Qasr.  It has a population of 1500.  The large city of al Basrah with over a million inhabitants is outside of the Enclave. The small town of Az  Zabayr is specifically excluded from the Enclave by a deviation in the borderline in order to avoid heavily inhabited areas. It appears that most of the people who once lived in the Enclave have already moved out.  The land in the north around the lake Hawr al Hammar had been inhabited by a minority group called Marsh Arabs.  Most of them moved out when Saddam Hussein drained the swamps.  Nearly all agriculture in the north also stopped.  The lake has now been re-established, and some of the Marsh Arabs have returned but mainly to the area out of the Enclave, to the north of the lake.  Satellite photographs suggest that the few inhabited areas on the east of the Enclave have already been cleared, probably as part of the previous efforts to provide security for the oil fields.  Those people still living in the Enclave will gradually be moved out, probably to Basrah, with good compensation paid for lost properties.  A complex of tent prisons called "Bucca Camp" has been established by the Coalition near Umm Qasr. A reporter, Kathy Kelly, described the area as "remote and desolate". The camp holds about 5000 POWs and TCN (Third Country Nationals) under the control of 1200 MPs from the 18th Military Police Brigade and Task Force 134. The port facilities at Umm Qasr are managed by SSA Marine.
The borders of the Enclave are relatively easy to defend.  The southern border of the Enclave is Kuwait and the Persia Gulf.  The northern border is the 20 mile wide lake, Hawr al Hammar.  Both are relative secure. An additional section on the northeast has most of its border provided by the large Shaat al Arab river. The eastern border is the Shaat al Basrah Canal from the exit of Hawr al Hammar, at Basrah International Airport, south to a deep water bay from the Persian Gulf; a large area of land beyond this eastern border is under water during the wet season.  A no-mans land, at least 10 miles wide in most places to preclude mortar fire, will exist next to the borders. Only the western border and a small segment in the northeast are on land.  The western border of about 70 miles is in barren uninhabited desert, making automatic detection of insurgents possible.  The only part of the western border needing intensive watching is in the north where the motorway and railroad cross into the Enclave.  

Most of the land in the Enclave is desert, flat in the east, rolling in the west.  Seasonal lakes are common in the north and along the Kuwait border.   There are two relatively small areas of cultivation, in the center of the north and near Az Zabayr.

Despite its desolation, the Enclave has a rather good transportation infrastructure. Several small airports as well as Basrah International Airport are in the Enclave.  A four-lane highway crosses the north end, and good roads extend down to Umm Qasr.  A railroad also crosses the north and extends to the port.  Umm Qasr was the "first liberated Iraqi city", taken on March 21, 2003, as being critical for the invasion. Major improvements in the port began in Jan., 2004.  The bay has now been dredged and Umm Qasr operates as a deep water port.

Fig. 2 Population density
Only a few thousand Iraqi currently live in the Enclave area. Most is uninhabited desert.   The figure here is from 2002; much of the population in the eastern part of the Enclave has since left. Google Earth shows most buildings in the Enclave area nearest to Basrah having been destroyed.

2. Oil fields

The Enclave contains the supergiant Rumaila oil field, plus the Rachi, Suba, Ratawi, Luhais, Tuba, Nahrumr (Majr Omar), West Qurnah, and Zubair fields (Fig. 3). The Majnoon supergiant field just north of the Enclave should probably be protected as well.

Together these ten fields have 71% of the total Iraqi available oil production (1,800,000 of 2,520,000 barrels per day) and also 71% of the known reserves (61,360,000,000 of 86,630,000,000 barrels). The only major field not included is the Kirkuk field (570,000 barrels per day) in the northeast. The network of oil pipelines are also largely controllable from within the Enclave.

Fig. 3 Oil fields and pipelines on aerial view of the Enclave area

There are several routes for export of Iraqi oil but all were closed during the period of sanctions except the one north through Turkey (Fig. 4).  The primary one now is southeast down the Al Faw peninsula to an underwater pipeline out to the Mina Al Bakr terminal for oil tankers. Most pipelines in Iraq are above ground and difficult to defend.  The one to Mina Al Bakr is more secure because it is buried.  Drawn maps state that they show only its approximate location. It is not difficult, however, to trace most parts in Google Earth satellite maps.  Indeed many parts are easily spotted because of the black oil spills along the way. There appears to be another buried pipeline completely within the Enclave, going to from the Zubair field southeast to the port of Umm Qasr, although. Large scale filling of tankers can be seen at Umm Qasr.

Fig. 4  Oil fields and pipelines for Iraq

3. Supply lines

A basic rule of military engagement over the ages has been that the advantage lies to the opponent with the shorter, less vulnerable supply lines.  Just ask Napoleon on his retreat from Moscow.
American troops in Baghdad are at a disadvantage.  Most of their supplies have to be transported half the length of the country, along unsecured highways with a high risk of mines and bombs. The long convoys of trucks to Baghdad have a high susceptibility to the classic technique used successfully when the enemy is forced into a long single file: immobilize the head of the column, then the tail, and then destroying the inside pieces one by one. Our only defense has been air support, but weather conditions can block it.
Deployment to the Enclave, however, reverses the situation, giving American troops shorter, more secure supply lines than the enemy enjoys. Umm Qasr is a secure deep water port within the Enclave.  Provided we maintain naval control over the Persian Gulf, all supplies for the American forces can be delivered directly, with no passage outside of the Enclave.  Supplies can also come overland directly from Kuwait.  
One must also consider worst cases.  There is always the possibility that the balance of power will turn badly against us in the future.  The Enclave situated next to the Kuwait border and the Persian Gulf is probably the best spot to be in Iraq if one has to retreat.

C. Three countries in one

The Newsweek correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Hastings, attended Bush's recent visit to Vietnam, and filed a very perceptive article, "Clean Slate", about the differences between Iraq and Vietnam;  differences he says that will probably prevent an easy American withdrawal this time.  The first difference, of course, was the oil, providing Iraqis with something to fight over.  The second difference is that Iraq is really three countries, whereas Vietnam although divided in half was a rather natural single entity.  
Historically, there was no Iraq.  In Ottoman days the area was ruled in three parts, from Mosul, Baghdad, and Basrah, roughly corresponding to the Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite factions currently fighting.  When the British took control, they put the three together, calling it Iraq, and placing the strongest faction, the Sunnis, in power to administer the new country.  

Reports vary as to the amount of animosity between the factions prior to the present war. Some Iraqis talked about living side by side with the other faction, even intermarrying with them.  On the other hand, the Sunni domination of the Shia during the Saddam period and the atrocities committed against the Shia created hostility on the part of the Shia and, worse, created in the Sunni a feeling that they were superior and destined to rule the Shia.  In any case, what has happened between the factions during the occupation has assured that there is great hostility between them today.
The dependence upon petrodollars supports the hostility.  If instead Iraq was full of profitable farms scattered throughout the country, you could divide it into three pieces, and each piece would automatically be getting the means for supporting its share of the population.  The oil, however, is not evenly spread.  Most of it is in the territory of the Marsh Arab minority, within Shiite territory.  The Kurds have a fair share, but the Sunnis have very little oil.  Traditionally, the person in Iraq getting the money from the sale of the oil could run the country.  In effect, he could buy the country.  This was a major factor in Saddam Hussein's rule.

Not surprising, decisions about the division of oil revenues were of foremost concern in the formation of a central government but could not be resolved.  The constitution states that the current oil production is the property of the Iraqi people, as a whole, but then there are statements implying that new oil deposits developed in the future are not general property but rather belong to the individual province.

This is a pivotal period in Iraqi history. The Constitution may well be just a piece of paper, and actually possession may in fact confer ownership.  If one faction does manage to secure the oil for itself alone, their people for many generations will have lives of leisure, opulence, and power, while the other two factions will fall to poverty and subservience for as long as the oil lasts. Winner takes all. With a prize like that, faction leaders can justify a bit of bloodshed today.

Of course, it would be nice if all three factions shared the oil, the profits from the oil, and the power of the central government, and the might of the Iraqi army.  Realistically, however, none of them trusts the others to be nice or to play fair. The stakes are just too high.  

No Sunni will allow himself to be ruled by a Shiite.  No Shiite will ever again submit to the leadership of a Sunni.  And no Kurd will allow either of the other two factions to control him.  Each is willing to fight a civil war to prevent being dominated by another faction.  

The only way to prevent full scale civil war, therefore, is to partition the power.
On the other hand, at the beginning of the invasion, the American administration promised the world, and particularly its NATO ally, Turkey, that Iraq would not be partitioned.  There would be no independent Kurdistan provoking problems from the Kurds in Turkey.  Iran and Syria both have stated they oppose partition, saying that the chaos and refuges would cause them difficulties.  Probably the most important reason to keep the factions together is to prevent war between the countries in the region.  For example, if the newly elected President of Shiite Iraq called upon the Shia in Iran to help them in a war against the new Kurdistan, or the new Sunni Iraq, the leaders of Iran would have difficulty not answering the call.  
Iraq must be maintained as a single entity, therefore, to avoid regional war.
Confederation has been seen as the solution to this dilemma.  There are, however, two problems.  Confederation requires a central government that is independent of the factions and sufficiently powerful to avoid being taking over by any one faction.  Power in Iraq, however, is provided by membership in a faction. No Iraqi independent of factions is powerful enough to survive for long on a national scale.
The second problem is that confederation divides power geographically.  Provinces are geographical creations with areas and borders.  The factions are not, however, perfectly divided geographically.  Some provinces do contain mainly one faction, but other provinces are mixed.  No Sunni wants to have a Shia provincial governor above him.  

D. Power partition in a unified Iraq

The Enclave Solution is to use the dependence upon petrodollars to partition the power in Iraq, but not the country itself.  

All profits from the sale of Iraqi oil are returned to the Iraqi people.  Use whatever accounting means and/or controls are needed to assure that America does not steal a single cent.  The United Nations, for example, could take responsibility to prevent the embezzlement of oil profits.  Personally, I think would be good to have the United Nations given such a position of importance in order to restore some of the significance it lost with the Administration's unilateral decision to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iraq.  

An important and distinctive feature of the solution is that the profits are not given just to the executive central government of Iraq but instead divided and given proportionally to the leaders of all factions.  

The traditional means of establishing power in Iraq has been to buy it with petrodollars.  It may seem like corruption to us to have leaders, rather than collecting tax revenue and contributions from the people, to be distributing money to the people in order to buy their loyalty and votes. Indeed, Iraq was just listed as the most corrupt country on earth. We should notice, however, that it is not too different from having a multinational company pay for your labor and loyalty. In any case, our task is not to change the ethical standards of Iraq.  We should try not to be crusaders.
Power in Iraq follows the flow of petrodollars.  Whoever pays you is your leader, and whoever pays your leader is his leader and your super-leader.  Since the money goes into Iraq divided according to factions, and is expected to flow along sectarian lines, no Sunni will have a Shiite above him, no Shiite will have a Sunni above him, and no Kurd will have either as a leader.   That was the recipe for avoiding civil war: the recipe for peace.

Furthermore, the flow of petrodollars is not restricted by geographical borders.  The petrodollars from the Sunni leader will flow to Sunnis throughout the country.  (This might be compared to the money from General Motors flowing to workers throughout America.) Consequently, the problem from geographical mixing of the factions is avoided.

Although the power in Iraq will be partitioned, the country itself will remain a single sovereign state. It will be confederated, but united not by a strong central government so much as by the unified oil production of the Enclave. There will be no country of Shiite Iraq calling for support from Iran, nor a Sunni Iraq State asking Syria to protect its interests.  Turkey will not be bothered by a country of Kurdistan.   That, in turn, was the recipe for avoiding regional war.

E. Oil production

The US government stated before invading that "protecting the oil fields is a priority in the event of a war." It should remain a priority today in the event of civil war.
Many Europeans have assumed that America invaded Iraq to get its oil.  This fits their image of the United States being run by greedy, wealthy businessmen who only care about the bottom line.  What has happened in Iraq, however, does not support this view.  If anything, America is guilty of not caring enough about the Iraqi oil.
America did not assume responsibility itself for protecting oil fields and pipelines.  Instead it acted as if the oil was unimportant and passed the responsibility on:
First, protecting the oil was generally handed over to the British. Probably the justification was that the British were centered in the province Basrah which includes most of the oil production.

The British military out-sourced the job to a British security company, called Olive Group.
Olive Group in 2004 handed the work over to a paramilitary group called the Oil Protection Force (OPF) under the command of Lt Col Mazin Yousif, formerly in Saddam Hussein's army. He hired 4500 men, most of whom also had served in Saddam's army.

There apparently were no objections from the Americans. Perhaps the nonchalance is just a show, for the sake of critics in Europe and elsewhere, proving that we did not go to Iraq for the oil.  That is not, however, very likely.  Most Americans and particularly this Administration do not really care what European intellectuals think of them.   Bush cared about whipping Saddam.  Bush cared about getting a victory in the Middle East over al Qaeda and the forces of evil, which they naturally assumed meant Iraq. Bush cared a lot about getting votes back in the US of A.  But he did not care enough about the oil to bother having our own soldiers protecting it.
It is ironic that America disbanded Saddam's army and made sure that they were not hired for work that was of little value to the Sunnis in their competition with the other factions, but the key to winning that competition, the oil, was casually given to the Sunnis.  Bush apparently did not even notice.  

The Shiites noticed, however, as shown in a report on July 29, 2006, by Paul Salopek in the Chicago Tribune.   Yousif and his Oil Protection Force were still in charge:

"This must be a joke!" snapped Mazin Yousif, peering out from the back seat of his SUV at a sandbagged OPF checkpoint. "Impossible!" Strange new faces were appearing at the checkpoints. They were the bearded members of local Shiite parties and their violent militias. [Yousif's] oil army was being infiltrated. In places like Rumailah, Iraq's boggling oil wealth was falling prey to sectarian greed...Victims of Sunni-Shiite violence were being dumped, at the rate of five or six bodies a day, into the dry canals of Basra."

The task of protecting the oil is not easy, with over 8500 km of pipeline, most of it above ground and exposed.  Even considering the difficulty, however, the OPF have done a surprisingly poor job.  The insurgents seem to know exactly the times and places where they can attack in order to hurt production.  Production levels today are half a million barrels a day lower than before the war.  Indeed, one could question if Yousif and his paramilitaries were more intent upon keeping control of the oil fields for their Sunni faction than in exporting oil for money that will be going to the Shiite dominated central government.
The sectarian war over the oil has already started.  It started the minute the British handed responsibility over to Sunni paramilitaries. There is a disturbing parallel here with the events prior to 1932 when the British, primarily in Basrah, handed over responsibility for the country to the Sunnis.
Meanwhile, despite the constitution saying the oil belongs to all Iraqis, the Kurds are already talking to international oil companies about production in Kurdish territory.  There are rumors that Shia leaders are doing the same.  The Americans may not have been interested in the oil, but the Iraqi factions know the key for their success.
A study was conducted by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.  The Unclassified Summary of SIGIR's Review of Efforts to Increase Iraq's Capability to Protect Its Energy Infrastructure was published September 27, 2006.  It begins:

"Iraq cannot prosper without the uninterrupted export of oil... A number of factors, including insurgent attacks, an aging and poorly maintained infrastructure, criminal activity, and lack of rapid repair capability have combined to hold down Iraq's oil exports. To achieve overall victory in Iraq, the current Administrations strategy includes protection of key infrastructure nodes and increasing the Iraqi government's capability to protect its key energy infrastructure."

The report concludes:
The Iraqi government has much to do if it is to implement U.S. Proposals as well as proposals put forth by its ministries.  Progress in acting on them has been slow...

In other words, 1) the oil production must be protected; 2) the Iraqi central government cannot currently do so; 3) hiring sectarian Iraqi paramilitaries has not worked.  The obvious conclusion is that America must take personal responsibility for protecting the oil.  

NOTE: The diary proved to be longer than Scoop can handle. I have thus opened a new diary with Part II.

My honest opinion? The title of this diary should be "An Answer for the United States". The only answer for Iraq is going to come from Iraqis. And yes, I am very aware that it is going to be bloody and terrible.
by det on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 09:39:17 AM EST
I couldn't read all of it...too long and it's 1 am here but from the first part I can say I TOTALY AGREE with you.


Under strict international scrutiny, all profits are returned to the Iraqi people, paying directly for the army and distributing the rest equally to the 275 constituencies of proportionally elected members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives.
This is naive ...why do you think USA will do this?
Why do you think USA is spending billions of dollars in this war?
Your friend may have good intentions tho...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 10:13:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And a related quote (part 2) "And the Americans, ha, won't get to keep a cent of the profit!". My first instinct - my how those costs do mount up. Let me propose a modest adjustment to the plan: The Iraqi get ALL the money from the sale of oil, not just the "profits". Why exactly should they pay for the confiscation of 2% of their land and the ongoing loss of sovereignty over their air space and the bulk of their natural resources? Let the countries that participated in the invasion and occupation pay for the plan that their own actions have made necessary (i.e. war reparations).

On another aspect, while I agree that the US is probably the only country that could provide the MUSCLE for such a plan (although even that is debatable) there are a multitude of countries (or combinations of countries) that could provide the BRAINS. In that respect, I propose that all countries that participated in the invasion be barred from acting in a senior command or administration role in respect of the "Enclave". Call it a demonstration of good faith - something that is badly needed.

by det on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 03:11:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea that the Iraqis get all of the money from oil exports and not just the profits is a possibility - perhaps as a way of sweetening the pot.  Along somewhat similar lines, I had thought of having the payment initially be higher than the actual sales and instead based upon future expected earnings. Considering how much money America is spending now on the war, and how much they would save if they could bring 70% of the troops home and stop going out on patrols, there could be room for a more liberal deal.  The need here, however, is for diplomacy in the other direction.  The payment for expenses and the advance payments cannot be seen as punishment payments. You may want to punish Washington but attempting to do so will squelch the whole deal - and you are back to staying the course with an occupying army indefinitely and escalating deaths on all sides.  I also think you would not get Washington agreeing to paying for the modernization with American taxpayer money, but I could be wrong.  Instead, I would suggest that the Iraqi government has to pay for the modernization, perhaps out of anticipated increases to future earnings, and perhaps have a say as to which firms are hired. That could solve another objection some people have raised, without having to put it directly into the rules, which again could blow the deal.  But hey, have you noticed the good thing here?  We are no longer talking war and hatred.  We are talking relatively normal business deals, the win-win type that make everyone happy.  
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 11:13:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea that the Iraqis get all of the money from oil exports and not just the profits is a possibility - perhaps as a way of sweetening the pot

The sharing of GROSS revenues is inherent in the "Oil Pool" or "Capital Partnership" option I am putting forward in

It constitutes an equitable way of bringing in Big Oil as development partners - and without requiring a cent of investment from them.

Oh, and it is Islamically sound at a deep level.

The outcome may essentially be to create what may become a unit of value - a "petrodollar" - consisting of the amount of crude oil a dollar will buy on the launch date.

These "petrodollar" units could be invested in productive assets (using the non-toxic legal form - the LLP - I advocate unstintingly!) and/or distributed to Iraqi's as an "energy dividend" which they would be free to exchange.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 05:51:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I tend to agree, however, any realistic plan has to give the US a way of getting out while saving face.

It's not going to be equitable: an equitable, fair plan that might work and cater for the needs of Iraqis reasonably well requires US concessions that they're not going to make, certainly not under this administration.

Since it seems clear that the Democratic party intend to continue to accomodate genocidal maniacs for fear of paying a political price for impeachment or of being blamed for "losing" the war we need to look for solutions that will bring some sort of stabilty in the region.

I don't think that US involvement in or administration of the oil regions is a runner: UN involvement might be, maybe throught the Arab League or something.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:36:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
maybe throught the Arab League or something.

I'm sorry, it's just difficult for me to take seriously any plan that actually depends on the Arab League doing something.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here....

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 12:03:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
any realistic plan has to give the US a way of getting out while saving face.

I think several groups in Iraq will work hard to make such a plan unrealistic.

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

by DoDo on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 06:27:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Under strict international scrutiny, all profits are returned to the Iraqi people, paying directly for the army and distributing the rest equally to the 275 constituencies of proportionally elected members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives."

This is one of the bits I find problematic.  Why shouldn't the money be distributed directly to heads of households on a per-capita basis as was done previously, while paying the elected representatives some kind of extra salary-amount from the same kitty... ditto government salaries?  Why make the entire people so heavily dependent - like it or not - on their various political/religious leaders??? FAIK as Muslims, they are expected to pay zakat out of their income anyway, some of which goes to maintaining their religious institutions and clergy? So if they want to fund the militias, THEY fund 'em - as they are doing already??  Plus with the high unemployment due to collapsed state admin. system and general economy plus cutbacks in Saddam-era handouts to the population, the resulting mass destitution has fostered the growth of criminal gangs outside the militias - so everyone having some income to live on could help back criminal-gang activities as they would no longer be acting out of survival-necessity?

The other bit I find problematic is that if the "enclave" would require only a few thousand troops, why should these be US troops and not neutral UN ones? Simply to save US face, or for some less confessable reason??

OK the UN would have difficulty putting together an army of 100,000+, but the numbers indicated - only a few thousand - are well within UN capabilities and their presence would be far less contentious ("suspicious") than that of US forces in the role of oilfield-guardians for Iraqi benefit - as well as supervising auditors.

And the big potential killing-fields are the mixed cities - if possible, wouldn't it be well to try to get some kind of local sectarian-neighbourhood representatives to attend a conference to agree their respective borders and see if they want to call on UN help to securitize them??

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

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 02:46:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree about the name. I wrote the piece in order to offer an Answer for America, and largely with Americans as the intended audience. The plan would provide large benefits to Americans: reducing the soldiers being killed, taking them out of the horrible situation they are in, bringing most of them home, etc.
But I am not so pessimistic about what would happen in Iraq.  Sadr says that all the attacks today are the fault of America. I don't think he meant only that the attacks would not be happening if we had not invaded in the first place. He means the very presence of the occupying army is a stimulus to violence.  I think the celebration at America's obeying of Maliki's demand that the US soldiers are removed from the cities would reduce the general level of violence.  And I think sectarian fighting would decrease if each faction knew none of the other factions could get the oil. This, of course, speculation. I could be wrong.  But given two options equally beneficial to America, we should choose the one that at least has a chance of being more beneficial to the Iraqis.
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 07:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I dont like this plan but it is probably the only one that can reduce the duration of the chaos from 20-30years (or more) to 5-10years(time frame to rebuild oil infrastructure and bring finance).

and that is it tons of life saved.

this mess is shameful

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 07:07:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you seriously thinking than Iraki and others stakeholder in the region will let you build an americanstan to steal the oil ?

that would be too obvious, they will never let you do that legally and everyone will be unified to fight you, this time with moderns weapons provided by Iran/saoudi.

Get your ass out is the only real solution or if you want to stay, prepare the draft for sending 1 million GI.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 10:07:51 AM EST
To know the answer we must know the question.

For American Imperialists in the MI complex, the question is how to maintain permanent military bases in every single country where a military presence is ever established, and how to maintain control of every single military base ever occupied if at all practicable.

For everyone else, the question is more likely how to achieve a negotiated end to the Civil War, but for American Imperialists, the Civil War, like all such conflicts around the world, is simply a means to an end ... and the Iraqis being killed and wounded are of no consequence, while the US service men and women being killed and wounded are only a political inconvenience.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 07:03:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, it's not complete. Perhaps it's too long for Scoop diary settings, whatever they are?

I read this this morning (sneak peek), and this is what I thought:

  1. this is constructive thinking in the right direction, that is, troop withdrawal while avoiding a partition of Iraq (a highly likely cause of regional warfare, particularly over the question of an independent Kurdistan);

  2. however, there are powerful obstacles to the Enclave plan:

    - by concentrating US troops, a military airport to be used for airspace control of all Iraq, a training camp for "friendly" Iraqi troops,  a base from which to survey the Middle East, and protection of most of Iraq's oil reserves, the Enclave risks appearing as simply what the US wanted from Iraq all along, ie control of the Mid-East and its oil reserves in view of world resource conflicts over the next 2-3-4 decades (this is an overwhelming global perception, not just that of European "intellectuals");

    - the failure of the Iraq invasion (both in terms of concept and implementation) has exposed US weakness rather than demonstrated strength. In this context the plan would encounter difficulties in persuading Iraqi and regional interlocutors:

        - it would take more than an effort of diplomacy to get Iran to agree to this Enclave in Shi'a Iraq, not far from its own borders.  Would the US go as far as accepting Iranian nuclear? Why would Iran play along without that? And what are the hopes for relative peace in Iraq without Iranian cooperation?

        - though the distribution of oil money to Representatives has a lot to be said for it, how could warlords who have gained power in the current chaos be persuaded to relinquish that power and yet receive nothing in exchange?

        - the plan is for the US to "take responsibility for selling the oil" under UN audit. How credible is the UN today for this kind of task? Who is going to believe in the US as a fair and dependable contractor? If I were Iraqi, wouldn't I think: so the Americans hand out oil money today because they must, but what's to prove we'll go on getting money in 5-10 years' time?

3) Basically, the realistic view is that the US has shot its bolt in Iraq, and doesn't have the clout to get agreement on a plan like this, nor the military power to implement it by force.

Sorry if this sounds damning, given David Sinclair's efforts. But I don't think it's the case that America will be able to say: we had this one rogue president who got us into a mess, but now we're sorting things out. Americans, don't shoot at me, but I almost wonder if it wouldn't better to make the Republicans clean up their mess (McCain for Pres?).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:10:39 AM EST
I split the diary. It is easier to comment without scrolling a million miles....

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:33:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I don't think it's the case that America will be able to say: we had this one rogue president who got us into a mess, but now we're sorting things out. Americans, don't shoot at me, but I almost wonder if it wouldn't better to make the Republicans clean up their mess (McCain for Pres?).
Hopefully most Americans see themselves as Americans first, and solve their problems in that manner.  This type of solution has never been tried in the past, thank God, and won't work.  Imagine this solution being used in the Civil War, the great depression, Korea,WWI, WWII, Vietnam.  Americans from both parties jumped in to do their best to solve those problems.  Also you might check the vote in Congress regarding giving Bush the go ahead.--seems to me there were quite a few votes from both parties to go ahead,,,,Clinton, Kerry.  

I do agree Bush gets almost all the blame here, and history will almost certainly view it that way--but this type of partisan thinking in the midst of real problems is polarizing and feckless.

by wchurchill on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:38:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Americans thought of themselves as Americans first Bush would never have been reelected and he'd be facing impeachment now.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:42:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that is truely ridiculous.  Americans elect a president on a spectrum of issues, and they do it in a democratic fashion.  Bush won--live with it.  We'll see if Americans decide to impeach Bush or not.  But if they don't, you are saying that don't think of themselves as Americans first.  your arrogance in saying this is incredible.
by wchurchill on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 01:58:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you really think that Bush thinks of himself as an American first? Cheney? The Democrats who don't want to get involved in impeachment because it might damage their chances at the next election? Most of the US establishment people seem to think of themselves as themselves first, of their tribe, I mean party, second and as  Americans as a distant third if at all.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 02:17:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US, the two political parties, and the various segments of each of the parties, have different visions of what America should be.  I think you are confusing your very strong disagreement, bordering on antipathy, to some of those views and ascribing ulterior motives to the people pushing forward their agenda.  

Yes there are some players in American politics that put their own political success first.  But I think they identify themselves best when they flip/flop constantly on issues, bending with the polls, rather than having the courage of their convictions.

If the Democrats think there is an impeachable offense, they should move ahead.  But they should be very sure that they have an impeachable offense that stands up under scurtiny, and that the American public will agree that it's an impeachable offense.  The Clinton impeachment and the 1998 midterm elections showed the consequense of being wrong on that important judgement.

by wchurchill on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 02:40:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins
by EricC on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 06:20:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to refresh:  

In 2000 he was elected by five out of nine Justices of the Supreme Court.  

In 2004 he was elected by Diebold.  

A small point perhaps.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 09:12:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sheesh, how many years are you going to believe that pack of lies?  You really need to check out the facts.  Or maybe not,,,,,maybe just be totally paranoid and oblivious.
by wchurchill on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 01:51:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
stray points.  

For 2000, the truth is obvious and public.  More could be said, but the record indeed shows that the Justices ruled that the votes should NOT be carefully recounted, but that the Justices themselves would make their own selection.  

In 2004, the situation was complex, with many irregularities.  So I only note:  In districts that did not use electronic machines, exit polls closely followed official vote tallies.  In districts using Diebold machines they did not match, with exit polls favoring the Democratic candidate as compared to official tallies favoring the Republican.  Lastly, Diebold machines have since been proven to be vulnerable to tampering ("hacking") in at least six different ways to give false tallies.  

Voting suppression, which occurred in both Florida and Ohio, is illegal in fact and invalidates the vote in any democracy.  But that is whole other story.  

I do not claim proof beyond all doubt.  But the preponderance of the evidence is obvious and supports my claims.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Dec 16th, 2006 at 12:32:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree the argument is tedious, and I would add foolish, so how about getting over it.

For 2000, the truth is obvious and public.  More could be said, but the record indeed shows that the Justices ruled that the votes should NOT be carefully recounted, but that the Justices themselves would make their own selection.
The Supreme Court simply ruled that Florida needed to follow their own laws regarding elections--and they were not.  these laws just can't be changed after the fact, at least in America.  If you want to change them for the next election, fine.  But it seems the answer was the Dieboldt machine, which you complain about for the next election.

Regarding 2004, the closest election was by far Wisconsin and was the most likely to be overturned (kerry won there) , and there were convictions for preventing people to vote in that state--convictions against Democrats that is.  The decision was less than 1%, while the Ohio decision was not even close, a 4--5 point win.

This kind of whining is not accurate, and serves to portray the left as not willing to accept the results of the electoral process,  Are we not to accept the results of the Nov '06 elections because somehow the Democrats got hold of the Diebold machines.  I suggest you take this kind of thinking to a "grassy knoll" somewhere in Texas.

by wchurchill on Sat Dec 16th, 2006 at 01:25:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we not to accept the results of the Nov '06 elections because somehow the Democrats got hold of the Diebold machines  

For sure there was tampering in '06.  But when you look at THAT it does not support you either.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Dec 16th, 2006 at 02:00:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any thinking person will believe the facts because there is no "denying history" as you apparently wish, no matter how much NRC propaganda you swallow.

Information ought to be tasted before swallowing.  You are free to jump when anyone tells you, but it makes your comments suspect everytime.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Dec 16th, 2006 at 07:21:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why does it bother you that Republicans might have to take responsibility for the colossal screw-up they caused?

And why is that the only aspect of my remarks that you address?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:48:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why does it bother you that Republicans might have to take responsibility for the colossal screw-up they caused?
It doesn't bother me in the least.  They just got the first consequence of their actions in the November elections.  It was deserved, because they were the leaders of the screw-up.

My problem with your comment, is that while Republicans led this, and should pay,,,and they will pay,,,,,you are ignoring that this is American policy, not Republican policy that led us down the path we are on.  Tons of independents and Democrats agreed with this pathway.  The country has to shoulder the responsiblity for the actions.  And most of us do!  We changed Congressional leadership, just like a Democracy should work.  If there are not some huge changes in results by nov 2008, we will not have a Republican president.

But America chooses its leaders, and America lives with the consequences.  It's the way it works.  A democracy doesn't guarantee you always make good decisions,,,it just defines how you make decisions, and then how you correct them.  Your comment just doesn't seem to get it,,,,imho.

I didn't respond to the rest of your commments because I thought they were very legitimate points in what might be a good discussion on this topic.  But as I said in one of my comments, I really need more time to go through David's write up, and think about it,,,,,so I don't really have any immediate response to your comments--because they need thought, imho.

the comment I responded to got the appropriate thought--and not a lot of thought was required, in that case.  Not true, I guess I should add, of the vast majority of your comments, which are indeed thought provoking and normally well reasoned.  -:)

by wchurchill on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 02:16:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My closing comments were inspired by David Sinclair's tendency (at several points in his memo) to depict G.W.Bush as pretty much solely responsible for the Iraq invasion. I think the responsibility is broader. You say it's broader yet, and that all Americans share it. There's a sense in which that's morally the case, though it's hard on those who opposed the war and were slimed as anti-American and pro-terrorist for it.

My final devil's advocate sentence belongs to party politics (Democrats, beware of taking the rap for what Republicans did when holding WH, House, and Senate), and party politics, imo, is part and parcel of democracy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 02:48:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with wchurchhill about broad responsibility for the war. The administration (exec branch) led, both houses of congress (demos and repubs) followed without much question. The American people, while responsible for empowering a Republican President and placing Republicans in control of both houses, had little time, and less information with which to form an opinion one way or the other.  I was in government at the time and had considerable experience in the Middle East, and for that reason I was able to see the the war as a horrendous mistake (it didn't require a great deal of intelligence).  However, the typical American is not well versed in foreign affairs, or even in general issues regarding terrorism. So many bought the administration's reasons for war. Many of my own friends and relatives remained staunch Bush and war supporters for years, continuing to believe that we were correct in going to war (as part of the war on terror) and that everything would work out.  So, while all Americans are responsible, most are mainly responsible for their own apathy and maybe a lack of self-education on matters of importance.  I cannot, however, so easily absolve the congressmen, democrats and republicans, who supported the war for the same reasons.  Their business is to know or learn the truth before making decisions that affect the American people.  I simply can't believe they could be so inept. Still, it is an American screw up and I'm an American.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:10:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, you are right. All of us Americans have some of the responsibility. Perhaps that is one reason I wrote the piece, trying to find a way out.  Naming Bush gets to be just a short hand for the his group of advisers and manipulators, perhaps; for the whole administration, for the rest of the government that let him get away with it, and for us Americans who did not scream outrage loud enough. Even most Americans now see the mistake, but perhaps the blame lies hardest on those who saw the mistake - who saw the inevitable train wreck down the line - and did not do enough to prevent the catastrophe.

There is one point, however, where I believe Bush holds special responsibility.  That was in his firm conviction that Osama bin Laden and his follows in al Qaeda were not religious, because as Bush said, he knows religious people and they do not go around cutting people's heads off. Bush firmly believed that bin Laden was just another power-hungry despot, like Saddam. This conviction from from his soul prevented Bush from seeing that Saddam was Osama's archenemy (despite Osama saying so.) Instead, Bush saw evil working with evil, which certainly helped inspire the invasion of Iraq, to bin Laden's joy.  I have another long piece about this that I may post in the future.  The point is, at this one point at least, I think Bush did act as the Decider and thus holds special responsibility for what has developed in Iraq.

by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 10:13:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is, at this one point at least, I think Bush did act as the Decider and thus holds special responsibility for what has developed in Iraq.
and I agree with that, as well.  The leaders do get the bulk of the praise for success, and the blame for failure--as it should be imho.  But at the same time, in a democracy it's the citizens who choose those leaders,,,,whose representatives either support, or object to the leader's direction.  And all one has to do is look at the votes in Congress, the speeches by leaders on both sides of the aisles, the opinion polls in the country at the time--and I would argue that it is very clear America prior to the invasion of Iraq was strongly behind the decision.  

Obviously in retrospect, the troops were put over there too early; we should have been much more patient in allowing inspections to play out; and we should have done a far better job after the initial battles.  Pretty easy to see now with 20/20--and clearly most did not see it at the time.  IMHO

by wchurchill on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 02:02:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Several people have said that Iran would not permit construction of a US air base in the Enclave in Iraq.  I was under the impression that America had already spent large sums building military bases in Iraq, including air bases. I am taking this on hearsay; if someone knows the facts, please comment.  At least I know that Rumsfeld was recommending reducing the number of bases from over a hundred down to eventually 5. I don't think Iran would object if the number were 6 instead of 5.  As for protecting the oil, that is something America has officially been doing since the beginning of the invasion.  We just have not been doing a very good job of it, allowing sabotage and stealing to greatly lower exports - large because we did not do it ourselves but passed the buck. I don't think Iran would object if we did the job better, particularly if we can increase money going to the Iraqi people by, say, 50%.  Finally, redeployment is a decision that does not require Iranian approval.  I do not think they would object, if it were explained nicely to them, but it is not their decision.
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 08:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there has been plans and contracts for 5 huge bases in Iraq. Does anyone know how they have progressed? Is anything built or is it just paintjobs?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 09:13:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afew's constructive comments about my paper deserve a detailed reply.
Many of his doubts concern how the proposed actions would appear in the eyes of Iraqis and Iranians. Success therefore depends upon the credibility of America, the timing of the actions, and the PR at the time especially in Iraq itself. OK, I know that does not sound good, given the previous record.  But it could works well. The most important part of the proposal was moving the soldiers from the cities.  That will be the good news around the Middle East, maybe even with a bit of good will (better will at least) toward America.  If half of the troops go home, there will be rejoicing on two continents.  At that moment, no one will care whether the ones remaining are going to an existing base in Iraq or Kuwait or to the Enclave.  Moreover, there probably would be approval in Iraq for our using some of them to finally stop sabotage of their oil, stealing of their oil, and plan to modernize at least the southern oil field.  The only objection would be from the OPF, if indeed it was intending to take over the fields for the Sunnis. To a large extent, America already is responsible for the exports and for getting the money to the Iraqi government. There would be no complaints if the UN started monitoring all the exports to prevent corruption. Read section J1 "The Enclave Solution from the perspective of the Iraqi people". It could look very good to them, and so long as we do not steal, the plan really is objectively good for the Iraqi standard of living.  There would be little complaint from the central government if we redirected a small amount from it to the Representatives or officially to their constituencies. You are right that America does not have the clout to get agreement from Iraqi leaders, but if we just hand the Representatives their share of the money, are they going to refuse it?  They can hand it back to Maliki, but they won't.  And if the Iranians have not stopped the building of the previous American bases in Iraq, will they stop one that also has the additional job of guarding the oil fields from sabotage and civil war? I think it requires good diplomacy with the Iranians and that requires talking to them, as Baker-Hamilton suggested. But I do not see a problem. Unless we refuse to talk to them.  
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 10:52:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a couple of objections to your analysis in J1, but I put them in the second part of the diary, as it is there section J is.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 07:23:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this is truely an excellent set of suggestions.  I've read part carefully, and skimmed other parts,,,and hope to get an hour or so to read it carefully and in its entirety.  But I think you've done an excellent job of breaking the paradigm that everyone's thinking has fallen into.

Protecting the oil fields, maximizing the oil revenues (preventing attacks on the fields and pipelines), and sharing the revenues amongst the various Iraqi groups is a very important step to success.  A second important step is pulling American troops out of the cities, where for many they are just a spark to more violence.  The Iraqi's are out from under a murderous dictatorship led by Saddam.  Armed forces and police have received years of training.  Government structures have been created.  But at the end of the day, the Iraqi's have to figure it out.  

your plan is the best I've seen to give the Iraqi people a chance to choose their destiny, and make it happen.

by wchurchill on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:24:16 AM EST
The diary will also be posted by JG at DKos.

I hope David himself will be in ET later tonight (EU). I would prefer that he comments.

And thanks...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:28:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the big problem with this plan is that instead of stopping the civil war it will provide new finance at very large scale and push it to a new dimension, likely regional.

and because financing this civil war/regional war would be unacceptable, no Iraki will get the money.

Iraki will get the (humiliating) picture fast.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:58:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.  Yes. it is critically important to have solutions in which the Iraqis tell us what is good for Iraqis.  I learned that lesson from Arafat the hard way. The most difficult feedback I got while writing this was mainly from Americans who were worried about what we call corruption.  One suggestion was that we should give petrodollars to Christian charities to come in and help the poor heathens.
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 09:39:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Get the US out.

  2. Send the UN in.

  3. I agree about distributing Iraqi profits to the Iraqi people. But because that's unlikely to happen, you'd likely have to bribe Big Oil with some concessions instead of giving the whole pie to the Iraqis. That wouldn't be ideal, but it would be workable.

  4. Watch the players that emerge very, very carefully. Work hard to make sure there's no equivalent of the house of Saud which can take everything. This would require a combination of overt and covert operations and formal diplomacy.

  5. Tell Israel that if it tries to interfere there will be sanctions.

The physical objective would be to keep the warring factions apart, and secure the oil, making it clear that the oil will be for everyone's benefit.

The major diplomatic objective would be to create a legacy of good will and to federalise, rather than completely split, Iraq.

The country may be a fiction, but without it Saudi Arabia and Iran go nose to nose, and you really do not want that.  

There's increasing evidence that the original plan was to destabilise Iraq and foment fighting to keep the oil in the ground, largely for the benefit of the Saudis who didn't want a competing oil power, and never liked Saddam much anyway.

That was always a stupid idea. But now the Saudis seem to have decided they don't want to play any more. And if anyone gets the oil, it's going to be them.  

This is an even less good outcome, so a diplomatic priority now has to be to stop a Saudi oil grab - not just because of the obvious impact it would have on oil supplies, but because it will mean a war that involves Iran and Israel. Which would be a very, very bad outcome for the whole region, and everyone else on the planet.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:29:04 AM EST
I think that a "Trustee" or "Steward" is needed for such a proposal and the US cannot be that.

An enclave "kernel" could be created whereby an agreed area of land is protected by (say) the UN as a "Trustee" or "Custodian"

Within this enclave individuals would live alongside peace-keeping or security forces, to be provided by the US initially at least.

The key question of equitable investment in Iraqi oil production could be addressed by the pooling mechanism I outline in


and which gives rise to an entirely new, and Islamically sound, way of investing in Iraqi oil, and come to that, other productive assets.

In this model Big Oil comes in as a partner, and essentially invests their time and expertise in return for a proportional share in Iraqi production, at an agreed price. eg 200 million barrels of future Iraqi crude oil at $60.00 bbl brings in $12bn either from investors in cash, from Big Oil in materials and services, or both.

Investment in development of land in the enclave would also come, not from borrowing secured against the land, but from investment in future enclave property rentals by the owners of the gazillions of petrodollars out there.

If this partnership-based model works, then simply extend the trust protectorate.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 12:06:11 PM EST
I am glad to see constructive thinking about how to 1) make sure America gave back to the Iraqis all the profits, and 2) assure the world that America is giving  all the profits back.  When writing the proposals, it was clear that the American military (perhaps with the aid of the British if they were sticking around) is the only physical force sufficient for preventing the oil from being either taken over by one faction - causing civil war - or being sabotaged.  It was not clear how to assure and prove American integrity.  Using the UN was suggested to me by Robert Rapplean of Intellectual Icebergs podcast.  I would like to have the UN gain back some of the importance it had before the unilateral attack. But I am not sure the UN is up to the task.  I am not sure the UN would be trusted that well in Iraq. This is admittedly a fuzzy spot in the proposal. What would serve the purpose? Any ideas?  I will say, I think in this situation America would cooperate. But the proof of integrity most come from some other source.
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 08:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
David Sinclair states in part2 that the reality on the ground is that only the US has the military capability to pull a solution like this off. Regardless of whether that is still true after 4 years in Iraq, it neglects another reality: a long-term enclave run by the US won't play with either the US or the Mideast public.

To work at all, the enclave would have to be run by the UN (with maybe the EU monitoring production and revenues to ensure credibility).

That said, I found this a fascinating outside-the-box piece. I hope the author will come in and hang out.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 12:40:56 PM EST
It will never be accepted... because what is the point of sharing the oil reveneues? You could say that the security issue for the western world is important and that not getting hold of the money is the correct step. But this was not the point of the invasion. You need the revenues and the security.

If by any chance, Republcians would want to go to a situation worse than before the war regarding control of the moneyflow, I do nto see how th emoney would solve all the regional tensions and problems that the US has created.

It is true that staying there would make things worse....

but still I think there is nothing the US can do about it.. it is a matter of how much are they going to lose...

So, sorry , but I do not see it being accepted.. and certainly it willnot work...because not everybody would like ti and nobody would be able to implement the relevant part.

In any case.. it was very enlightened to see how ugly the things look for the US in the region in any case.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 02:07:48 PM EST
So typical - the answer does not even for a second question the constitutionality of the enclave 'solution'.

Very democratic indeed, the Iraqis will love it!

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 02:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I answer in a very straightforward way. there was no moral involved, on purpose. The diary did not provide for venues to express on opinion about moral issues.

This does not mean that I agree morally with the idea. :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 05:11:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope you are wrong. Better yet, I hope to see a solution that would be accepted.
We agree that staying the course - if that means just doing what we are doing now - is disastrous.
One of the comments here said, perhaps in jest, that the mess should be left to the Republicans, so let McCain bring in the half million or million soldiers necessary to "win".  That really scares me.  
Two years ago I believed that just leaving would work. It worked in Vietnam.  They promised a bloodbath if we left.  We left. And there was none. I no longer believe that will work in Iraq. It might have worked two years ago, but today I think there is a good chance of civil and/or regional war if we leave.  It does not matter.  So long as Bush is President, taking all the troops out is not an option.
The more liberals attack staying and conservatives attack leaving, the more likely it is that the McCain solution might actually be chosen.  
So I think we really need to find some other plan.
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 09:50:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The European approach here seems to be that it's all quite hopeless but that's all right because the Americans deserve to have it all fail, so lets just concentrate on shooting down any plan whatsoever.

There are no good solutions. Okay, I understand that, but there will be developments, the situation is not static, and we can have some effect on what happens next. I can find lots of ways to snipe at this plan, but it sure looks better than anything I have seen coming out of Washington.

Just to change the focus, just to get people fighting over something else, contains some prospect of improvement. Fighting over oil seems to me somehow better than fighting over apostolic succession in 623 (?), just because you can have a winner.

We have a pretty good idea what won't work. Everything we have done so far. This is a new idea, fairly easy to understand and implement even over the inevitable objections.

I would be happy to see a better idea, equally doable.

Anybody got one ?

by greatferm (greatferm-at-email.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 05:45:32 PM EST
I got plenty.

Here is one for starters:

Take off your boots when inside a mosque.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 06:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The photograph here makes a stronger case for the first part of the Solution than anything I wrote. We must get the US soldiers out of the face of the Iraqi people: out of their mosques, off of their streets, out of populated areas in general.
I was surprised that almost no one commented about that part of the proposed Solution.  To me it is the most important part for a wide variety of reasons and is like to provide more benefits faster than anything else could.  Where we send them is of less importance - except to the extent that it helps get them out of the cities in the first place. If the Administration likes the idea of sending them to an Enclave, then it is more likely to approve redeployment out of the urban areas.
Getting the soldiers out of the city is, I think, something that has a very good chance of being done. Regardless of where we think they should go, perhaps we should all work together to try to get this one important action accomplished quickly.
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 07:25:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So are Iraqis to endure a few more, eh, social experiments from the Americans?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 06:29:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As the author, I really like that last part. The main goal was to kick thinking off of the one line. To stimulate new ideas rather than just attacking the old ideas of opponents. My solution may not be a good solution, but it is new. I too would love to see a better one. One that was doable and actually was then done. That would be a beautiful reward for writing this proposal.
I also liked your mention of the ease of implementation.  This is another important requirement of a useful solution.  There is so much polarization today that one is not going to see general agreement coming from many international meetings; they should not be a requirement for a solution that is going to take place this decade.  As much as I opposed the unilateral decision of the Administration to invade Iraq, I am quite happy to see a unilateral decision to get out, or at least to get the US soldiers out of the cities.  Consequently, most steps in the program can be  made simply by America deciding to do so. We still need that monitoring system to prove integrity. But Bush could put most of the plan into action all by himself. Again that is the way he seems to like to do things, so a plan that permits that is more likely to be put into action.  
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 09:31:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My God, how blind and arrogant Americans are (as opposed to Brits that are just arrogant, ha-ha).
Simply they are saying: OK we lost this war but no chance we'll lose oil and military bases. So you Iraqis go fuck your selves, kill each other as you fish (even better) all we want anyway is your oil and military base here (instead of few we'll have BIG one now). We thought we'll have you work as slaves for us while we are grubbing your oil and our private companies are grabbing USA tax payer's money but looks like it's not to be. So we are going to make our selves our own state inside your state where USA rules are going to be applied, where USA standards are going to be applied  it's just that we'll have to pay for oil exploitation a little bit more but then who cares USA tax payers are paying anyway.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 03:20:50 AM EST
I am thinking something. What they already do from the beginning of this war they are protecting "enclave" and it's oil...but it's obviously does not work properly cause looks like they cant make enough oil and they are getting inpatient. All they would be saying if they accept this plan is: we give up on making poppet government capable of ruling you bloody Iraqis and we are going to concentrate on oil and one military base only ...on "enclave". Americans of course know that even if they give ALL the money from oil to Iraqis (which is incredible fairytale) they'll still fight each other for that money, power and because of the past. All they may gain by this plan is really "solution for USA", Less solders, less dead solders, more oil (and profit in many ways) and military presence.
But all though "the solution" looks similar to Kosovo (minus oil) this is not Kosovo and Americans does not have single entity (except maybe Kurds who are going to be gassed if they leave) on their side or even being friendly.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 04:24:04 AM EST
That make 4 comments in a row, I think, that say it is a "fairy tale" that America would honestly pay all the oil profits back to the Iraqis.
I calculate Iraqi oil exports today are worth about $30B a year. We are spending about three times that much a year fighting the war. That is not a good business venture.  Moreover, the monetary costs are unimportant to Bush compared to the lost of the election, and unimportant compared to the loss of lives.  I am confident Americans would be happy to forfeit $30B in misbegotten gains in return to getting their soldiers out of harms way. Again, I agree we need to have safe guards to count every cent and announce to the world if one is missing.  

OK.  What do you do in the real world if you do not trust a partner in a financial deal?  You have them put the money in escrow. So have America put up $30B in escrow. Problem solved.

by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 09:00:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I calculate Iraqi oil exports today are worth about $30B
Do not know exactly but it's not about how much it is today...it's more about future possibilities. And Iraq is 4th   in the world if we look here:


We are spending about three times that much a year fighting the war. That is not a good business venture.
Yes it is for BushCo that enjoy taking your money ...oooo yea...not that poor Iraqis are spending it...

I am confident Americans would be happy to forfeit $30B in misbegotten gains in return to getting their soldiers out of harms way.
It may easily be truth after almost 4 years of bloodshed and especially when American solders are getting killed more and more lately ...(huh who cares about hundreds of thousands Iraqis ,including children and women  cause American kill civilians mostly in rage of not being able to bust "bad guys")

To trust USA? C'mon. Who can we trust today anyway? There is no single person out there let alone politicians. People take care best of their own money. Let Iraqis take care of their oil and money. And let Iraqis deal with their own corrupted politicians. Americans should do the same with their too. Different methods though... In Iraq they tend to behead them in America they vote them to the White House, haha

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 09:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly, although this plan sounds good on paper. It simple will not flight in the real world. This area, in the Shiite south would alienate the Shiite future from the US. It is exactly the kind of plan that Al Sadr would support and the radicals would support. Such a region would become a symbol of the 'Arab world's' oppression by the 'Zionist-Crusader' West. (Or some such thing) It would also act as an attraction for any radical with a grudge against the west.
There is a historical ancestor for such a policy....
After giving up in Egypt, the British hoped to maintain control over the canal zone. Although could hold the position, they remained under attack. It the end, the British got dragged in to messy Egyptian politics and in the end were forced to pull out. The situation is not exactly the same. But I think that The enclave would be a failure just as the British canal zone plan was.
by kurdistani on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 08:23:08 AM EST
You might be right: it might turn messy tomorrow.  But if it were the key to getting the US troops out of the cities today - to getting the administration to agree to remove them - would it not be worth the risk.  If you asked Sadr where he would prefer the American troops to be, in Baghdad or in the Enclave (where they are displacing the Sunni-dominate paramilitary OPF oil army), I am confident he would choose the latter.
In the Egyptian case, were the British supplying most of the revenue for the Egyptian government from the Canal, and giving them far more money than they could hope to get alone? Again, this factor depends upon America handing over the profits.  But it makes another good reason for America to pay the money to Iraq.  As long as America pays, the situation probably will not turn messy.  There is a long tradition in Iraq of displaying loyalty to the one who is paying you.  Finally, I think the record shows that countries do not object that strongly to having foreign military bases on their territory so long as the bases are isolated. Problems are generally when soldiers "interact" with civilians.  The Enclave would be a very isolated base.
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 09:15:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
David had some problems last night and was not able to be with us to answer questions. He has promised to try again tonight.

He also has to deal with the comments over at DKos ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 08:36:13 AM EST
I am sorry I was not available earlier to reply to the questions about my diary.  I had been asked to make a podcast about it for Intellectual Icebergs at the time this came out. Also sorry about the excessive length.  If I had had more time, I would have written something shorter.

One general comment. There were two main premises for my work. 1) Nearly all discussion has focused on the single line of how many American troops should be in Iraq. We have to move off of that line if we want to see new ideas.  2) We need to try to look at the situations from different perspectives (Dem & Rep, Iraqi civilian, US soldier, Iraqi leader, Chinese motorist) and find something is at least acceptable to all. But whose viewpoint is that single line we have been on? It is the viewpoint of US politicians! Bush says 140,000; McCain says 500,000; Democrats say 70,000 or even 0.  That is what US politicians can control best: the number of troops they send to Iraq. The frightening thing is the extent to which our thinking has been constrained to the US politician line.

by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 07:08:46 PM EST
This is really good writing and good thinking, I'm glad you've joined ET.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 05:33:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We need to try to look at the situations from different perspectives (Dem & Rep, Iraqi civilian, US soldier, Iraqi leader, Chinese motorist) and find something is at least acceptable to all.

This is a motivation you bring up several time. It is admirable in so far as it goes, but I would point out that the perspectives you try to address (and the above list is not complete) do not carry equal weight. If I were to list them in order of importance, it would certainly not be the order shown above. If I were to make a column in which the spacing between the different perspectives was based on their relative importance, then I would waste several good trees because of all the blank pages I would have to insert between the different groups. The baseline requirement I have for supporting any plan is that it improves the lot of the Iraqis. If that was achieved, then everyone else could go hang for all the difference it would make. One problem I have with your plan is that it is the Iraqis who have the least guarantee of a favourable outcome. Basically the freshly unoccupied country could continue to sink into the abyss while everyone else still got their cut from the "enclave". However, I agree that reducing contact between occupation troops and Iraqis is a good idea in any circumstance, irrespective of how that is achieved.

Nevertheless, everyone agrees that full scale civil war should be avoided.  We should try to understand the standing reasons for there being a civil war and then do whatever we can to remove those factors we can influence.  Those prizes that the factions are fighting over should be removed from reach.  The more valuable the prize, the more important it is to remove if from sectarian competition.  The most valuable prize is the oil. If you project forward from the present situation, almost every path leads to full scale sectarian fighting over oil production.  If this rivalry over oil is not settled, civil war is probably inevitable.

I guess it is fair to say that this is the motivating argument for establishing US control over the oil resources (as opposed to some barren patch of desert further west). If I let my inner pop-psychologist out of his box he immediately starts accusing you of projecting US attitudes onto everyone else in this conflict. It is not that I think oil is not a motivator, I just don't think it is as important a motivator as your plan suggests. Even if it is, your plan does not adequately consider the position of the Kurds. By all account they do not seem to be excessively greedy. They would be content with their aging northern fields. They harbour no illusions about controlling Iraq or seizing the southern fields. As a minimum they want to maintain the de facto autonomy that they currently have. Most probably they want to increase it to as close to full independence as they think they can get away with. They have a strong and (I would say) legitimate claim to nationhood. I can't see them abandoning it for the bribe of additional revenue from the south. At best, they would probably play along until they judged that the time was most suited to making a play for something more. You rely to a large extent on the "culture" of buying support, but I believe the saying goes: "You don't buy an Iraqi, you only rent him". Incidentally, I think this is true of all humanity - bought loyalty is no loyalty at all.

However, even if you sucked all the oil out of Iraq tomorrow, I think the desire for power and recent history would still be sufficient motivators for ongoing and escalating conflicts. Civil conflicts take on a life of their own. As far as I can see, starting large scale civil conflict is actually quite difficult. People will generally endure an incredible amount of shit and still not strike out. However, once such a conflict has started (as it quite clearly has in Iraq), it generates its own momentum. Iraq has been awash with blood for the last four years. In any culture simply removing the original impetus for conflict is not sufficient for restoration of peace. In a culture where honour and revenge is so deeply ingrained that goes double. So to refer back to my earlier point - your plan should have a mechanism whereby if the situation does not significantly improve for the Iraqis then nobody else should be allowed to profit in any way from their resources.

by det on Sat Dec 16th, 2006 at 01:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will forward your comment to David, as I don't know whether he is still paying attention here.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Dec 19th, 2006 at 10:37:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that the importance of the different perspectives is quite different if one is considering how much the group is being affected by the war. Certainly, the Iraqi people would be first by a large margin.  If we are looking for a solution that does the most good, that should be our weighting factor.

My goal was more pragmatic.  I was writing about what America might do to improve the situation in Iraq, and the first consideration then is that the solution has to accepted by the people making policy in America: partly the Administration, partly Congress, partly the American military, with some input from the media and the public. This is just the moment when there is general agreement in America that a solution is needed. The Iraq Study Group along with others were called upon to provide possible solutions.  The Enclave Solution is intended as an alternative.  It is in comparison with these other proposals, and from what America has done so far, that I emphasize the perspective of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi leaders.  

The most important part of my proposal is the removal of American troops from the Iraqi cities.  This is a win-win solution if we can get the Administration to do it.  I do really believe that this would be of great benefit to the Iraqi people.  And it would be of great benefit to the American soldiers. Those are the two groups most intimately affected by the present situation.

Beyond that, I think we should do what we can to reduce the chances of civil and regional war, and to facilitate reconstruction.  

I agree that there are reasons other than oil for sectarian fighting.  I do not, however, think there is much that we out here can do about the age-old religious animosities.  We try to make those changes we are capable of making and ignore those we cannot affect, and hope for the wisdom to see the difference (to paraphrase the Serenity prayer.) I would be happy to see any way to defuse these factors based on religious differences and revenge.   The only proposal I have seen elsewhere for lessening these reasons for hostility is partitioning of the country into three separate countries.  Partition always looks good from the outside, but the historical record is not that encouraging ( e.g., India and Pakistan).  That main problem with it is simply that it is not going to happen; Washington seems strong set against it, as are the neighboring countries.  On the other hand, the plan here for partitioning the petrodollars and thus the power is rather easy to implement and would remove the factor of having Sunnis ruling Shiites or vice verse.  

The Kurds would be quite happy with partition of the country and the establishment of Kurdistan.  The northern oil fields,however, are certainly not immune to sectarian debate.  There has been great debate as to what parts of the fields are in Kurdish territory.  There has been more sectarian fighting in the northern fields than in the southern.  Finally, I think we should be careful to avoid bias in our outside evaluation of the factions.  Almost everyone I hear here in Europe speaks highly of the Kurds.  I doubt if they really are that superior to the Sunnis and Shiites.  You say the Kurds have no illusions about controlling Iraq and seizing the southern oil fields.  How do you know? Of course they say so.  All three groups say that about themselves.  But do the Sunnis know for sure that the Kurds do not want to take over, and get even for what Saddam did to them.  

In the paper I said that I did not think that a Shiite leader really wanted impoverishment for the Sunnis; he would only want to make sure that the Sunnis never again dominate and impoverish the Shia.  Similarly, no Kurdish leader wants to control and diminish the Sunnis, but they are going to make sure the Sunnis never dominate them again.  The Kurdish leader does not really trust the Sunnis not to take away as much of the northern oil as possible, or charge a commission for it flowing out of Iraq through their territory. Nor do they trust the Shiites.  The Kurds in fact are Sunnis.  In the above discussion I should have being saying the Sunni Arabs rather than just the Suunis.  So from religious ground, the Kurds would be opposed to the Shia.

Finally, you are right about renting Iraqis.  We used to have a similar saying about politicians, with an honest one being one who stayed bought.  There is nothing immoral, however, about showing loyalty only so long as the payments continue.  How long do we stay loyal to our employer after the salaries stop coming?  Furthermore, this is an additional assurance that America will continue providing all of the money to the Iraqi leaders.  They will support what we are doing so long as we are paying and paying well.  If we can increase production, their loyalty rises as well.  That is completely fair.   And if we ever fail to pay, then they turn against us.  Also fair.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Dec 19th, 2006 at 01:09:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair answer. I will confess to being pretty pessimistic about the situation in Iraq for a least the next decade, so I regard the way forward as a case of trying to choose the best of a bad lot. Your plan is certainly infinitely preferably to the idea of increasing the number of US troops that is being considered at present. As you have said, you wrote it keeping the US perspectives in mind. In that regard you might want to consider some contingency planning. A few scenarios you may need to address:

  1. I think it is inevitable that ethnic cleansing would continue under your plan. Even if everything else played out as you envisage, there is a good chance that in a few years you have a country in which the population has, to a large extent, partitioned itself. Given that this process has already been set in motion, I think there is little that can be done to stop or reverse the trend. Of course your plan can proceed irrespective of whether the population partitions itself or not, but you should consider what the US response (if any) should be either during or after such an event.

  2. How should the US respond to an ongoing or escalating civil was? Continue to provide money proportionately to all side, fund certain favoured groups or with-hold all money?

  3. Will the US respond in a similar fashion to covert military aid entering Iraq from Saudi Arabia in the south compared to aid entering from Iran in the east?

  4. Would the US respond in a similar fashion to an overt military intervention by Iran from the east versus Turkey from the north or Saudi Arabia (stop laughing!) from the south.

  5. Would the US respond in a similar fashion to Iranian jets heading west across Iraq's border as opposed to Israeli jets heading east across Iraq's borders?

In effect your plan requires the US to act as a neutral referee between the different Iraqi factions and as an impartial policeman with respect to neighbouring states. I don't think it is realistic to expect the US to behave in such a manner. I am not even sure it would be fair to ask any country to do so. It is not unreasonable for countries to put their own interests first. The problem is that the US has not been particularly good at judging what is in it's best interest over the last few years.

Regarding the Kurds, I acknowledge a bias but for me it is not because I regard them as particularly good or even as merely better then the other Iraqi factions. It is just that they seem to have been on the losing end of every power struggle in the region since I don't know when. For all I know, they may collectively be a bunch of assholes, but even a bunch of assholes deserve to catch a break once in a while. As for there ambitions regarding power in Iraq - I don't doubt that they would make a play for it if they though they could succeed. However, I figure being the only faction that could not count on support from an external source (unless the US chose to help) would mean that they would never be stupid enough to try. However, if I am over-estimating their intelligence then all bets are off.

by det on Wed Dec 20th, 2006 at 10:25:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
capable of finding a solution for their country. We need to get our (US) forces out. We do not need to just run away from the cities but stay in bases or stay to protect the oil. Those kind of imperialist plans will only exacerbate the situation. The arrogance of westerners thinking that they can find and enforce a solution for anothers country is not only ridiculous but also gives merit to all the accusations of the west regarding itself as superior to the rest, and this is compounded by how few western experts, analysts, military characters and politicians have any understanding of Iraqi culture or for that matter even speak the language.
by observer393 on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 12:13:16 AM EST
This is not about Iraq and its people anymore - it is about America having lost a war.

At this point Washington is not particularily interested in the oil, or having bases, or controlling the Mid East, no, they have now a bigger problem to struggle with:

It is how to tell the American people that America lost a war. A war against sand niggers, towel heads and camel jockeys.

Nobody in Washington wants to be the messenger to tell a doped people that the greatest nation on earth with the best trained and bravest military in the world just lost another war against an unarmed country with a broken infrastructure and a divided ruling elite.

To accept defeat would break the moral of the US military machine and render it useless for years to come, it would throw the American ideology and the nation's "purpose" in a irredeemable crises.

That is the dilemma: America has lost a war but cannot accept it - hence the need to send more troops to Baghdad, which, however, will not alter the result.

It will only lead to a more desasterous defeat of the American military, the implosion of the US elites ideology and the ridiculisation of the American nation's "purpose".

In nuce, and our friends in Washington know it, this is not even about America having lost a war but about AMERICA, as a mental construct of ideology, purpose and military power, having lost its significance and its raison d'etre.

Over and out (Commander in Chief looking at New Orleans)


"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 06:55:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
American never loose wars, that doesnt fit the cowboy psyche :

 in vietnam it was "vietnamisation", in iraq it will be "iraqisation"


by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 07:02:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trouble is, the Americans have not only lost in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. So much for the "two war" doctrine.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 07:08:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this is compounded by how few western experts, analysts, military characters and politicians have any understanding of Iraqi culture or for that matter even speak the language

I know someone who is in US military intelligence and was given Arabic language training before being deployed to Iraq. He said that he was initially keen to learn Arabic and more about the culture, but in the end he had nothing but contempt for Arabic culture anyway.

We had this conversation in 2004. It didn't make me hopeful then, and I doubt things are better now.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 05:36:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is difficult to learn about a culture when you are there as an oppressor and occupier. The learning is needed well before that point. And weirdly enough the more we understand of each other the less likely is conflict.
Us Americans with our exceptionalism, love of our unbeatable (that is what we think!) military, disdain for foreigners, and general belief that our national interest supercedes all are in the unenviable position of being quite capable of having conflicts with nearly every country in the world.
by observer393 on Sat Dec 16th, 2006 at 12:11:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with the whole 'Iraq is another Nam' is that there is no 'national' movement ready to kick the US out. The fact is there is no Iraqi nationalist organisation that can unite the country. The only party which had cross national support was the Communist Party and that is now politically weak.

The general deal is...

  1. Kurds want out of Iraq

  2. Shiites want to control all Iraq (no place for the secular Arabs)

  3. Sunnis don't know what they want. Or rather... they want everyone to forget that Iraq was Sunni ruled and unite country under Arabism.

There is a civil war NOW.

It does not matter if the US stay or go really... The civil war will continue....

The US's mistake was trying to build Iraq from the top down. They believed that if they removed Saddam they could just place apro US crony on the top of the bureacracy and wham bam... democracy....

The US should have tried to built democracy from the grass roots up...

I don't really know what they can do now...

by kurdistani on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 07:52:07 AM EST
I don't really know what they can do now...

Declare victory and leave.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 08:19:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The most important criterion for a solution about what America should do concerning the Iraq situation is being acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats.
How about being acceptable to the Iraqis?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 05:10:30 PM EST
I thought one of the strong points of contention was the oil around Tikrit to the Northwest of the country. Wouldn't an enclave be needed there? If "the enclave" is needed around the Basra oil fields to prevent strife between Sunnis and Shiites, wouldn't an enclave be needed around Tikrit to prevent strife between Kurds and Arabs?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 05:22:59 PM EST

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 05:25:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the 4 or 5 supposedly enduring US airbases is already next to Kirkuk oil field. Nevertheless, this area has been particularly hard hit by sabotage.  The only way to protect that field would be to enclose it in an enclave of tight security.  You are right this could be done.  I had several reasons not to include it, however. First, there is the special geographical advantages of the southern oil field that it all could be enclosed in an easily defended Enclave.  There are, however, no natural defensive borders for the Kirkuk.  The Enclave is nearly uninhabitted, while the Kirkuk area is in a rather heavily settled region.  The Enclave is next to Kuwait and the sea, making supply lines short, and if necessary, escape easy. The Enclave has direct export connections. Oil from Kirkuk has to be transported long distances; so far protecting the pipelines has not been successful. In conclusion, protecting the southern fields we could do rather easily, and the 71% of production it contributes should be sufficient for jump starting the Iraqi economy and for assuring the factions that they each will be getting their far share of that production.
by rextinction (davidsinclairster@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 19th, 2006 at 11:36:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is that you claim "the enclave" would remove oil from the Iraqi power struggle and so defuse the risk of civil war, but for precisely the reasons you mention the Kirkuk fields cannot easily be "enclaved" and would become the focus of civil strife for at least a couple of reasons:
  1. with "the enclave" out of the picture, the Kirkuk oil fields would become the biggest "prize" in the civil struggle
  2. the oil fields seem to be behind the demographic and ethnic politics of Kirkuk, as both the Kurds and the Arabs try to claim the city for themselves

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 19th, 2006 at 11:45:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though I like David's ideas and believe they could be part of a solution, the most difficult task will be getting the various factions to stop the killing long enough to consider a plan.  Oil and money is very important, but in the end it may well be that power, control, revenge, and factional instincts are more important.  In other words, the genie is out of the bottle and may be uncontrollable.  As far as the real terrorists are concerned, the violence will continue as long as it suits their purposes and is within their capabilities, with or without oil.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Dec 16th, 2006 at 12:15:29 AM EST

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