Monday, September 18, 2006

A Step Towards Drawdown

What I think is a fairly important bit of news that maybe fell through the cracks a bit: here.

Sunni tribes in the Anbar province have agreed to fight Al-Qaeda/foreign terrorists in Iraq. They are the only ones who can--who have the legitimacy within their own lands to use violence against these elements--and through their relational contacts further West in Arabia, stem the tide/flow.

Of course the NyTimes stupidly refers to these foreign fighters as "insurgents", perpetuating this myth that the foreign fighters are the real insurgents and if we just got rid of them, Iraq would be a safe place.

There is a civil war going on there. All this does is take away a rationale for staying the course that goes like: if we live now Iraq will become a safe haven for Al-Qaeda. I've never really bought that theory. If the Sunnis have been this adept at fighting the American forces, they can handle Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Interestingly, when the Samarra Shia mosque was bombed, Ayatollah Sistani said not that the Sunnis did this, but that Wahabis did. Meaning non-Iraqi Arab extremists.

In other words, this gives Bush space to begin the drawdown that will come, as well as bringing in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Jordan/Saudi Arabia to stabilize the eventual bloodletting and splintering of the country into three parts and prevent, if it is still even possible, that chaos from spreading into the larger Middle East.

There was a moment back in 2003 when the insurgency was united as anti-US. That was the moment to leave--insofar as the Sunni-Shia Civil war is concerned. But that moment sadly has past.

I was attending a sharing circle today at school and the topic of war & Christianity came up.

It reminded me of the leadup to the Iraq War when I reached an intellectual breaking point, finding I could neither support the Bush administration nor the protest-peace movements, which I had previously been sympathetic to.

From a political-strategic point of view I could not support the Bush administration because I did not see in Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, or Rumsfield, individuals who knew how to lead. I knew their stated policy was no nation-building and that was exactly what we were headed into and that they would not have an exit strategy. I still think that was that right guess at the time.

But on the other hand, the anti-war crowd was as equally lamebrained in my view. Saddam was wiggling out of the sanctions--although he was nowhere near a bomb nor in any way connected to AQ--the sanctions under his father and Clinton which were directly responsible for the deaths of something in the range of 500,000 Iraqi children. Read that number again. The current war has cost about 100,000 Iraqi deaths.

Plus Hussein did use chemical weapons on his people; they lived under a police state. And all the rest. Yes the Americans in part created him and gave him those weapons, yes there is oil and power interests--of course there are. But so what, this problem still existed. There was still only the choice between a failing embargo/sanction (which was deeply unjust in many ways), letting him continue to terrorize the populace while those who criticize live in free societies as, or some form of intervention (though not necessarily the Rumsfield Pentagon occupation model).

But there was no reason I thought to occupy Iraq. I agreed with Bush that our soft policy towards ME Sunni dictators could no longer hold into the 21st century--that globalization was coming. But I did not agree that an invasion of Iraq was the way to change that. I would have supported, like Newt Gingrich and the British, a co-option of elements within the Baathist party and an internal coup. Then a deal with their leadership towards somewhat more Shia integration and a move away from the Stalinist leanings. A policy I support against North Korea. Whether or not it was possible, that time has past.

And since the invasion occurred, the only criticisms I have (which have been legion) are ones that invovle poor handling of the war/peace effort. We won the war; lost the peace. Same in Afghanistan more and more, same as the Israelis in Lebanon. Even Somalia as we see from the headlines today. The biggest one being that our actions have unintentionally shifted the entire balance of power historically in the Middle East to the Shia. And just as we pried the Egyptians away from the Soviets, so we must pry the Shia into some basic form of co-option to isolate the real enemies---Salafi jihadism.

And yet on the same frontpage of the WashingtonPost the title reads: Bush Pushes Spread of Democracy Worldwide. No realization that democracy (like fundamentalist Islam) is not the answer.

We put all of our capital and standing in the world to rest on the creation of an Iraqi army/police which are inflitrated at every level and our seen as the problem not the solution by many Sunni Iraqis, and a government that has no real authority outside the Green Zone. Why? This government in Iraq will not be the one that continues into the future. Even though I expect about 30,000 US troops or so, to remain, for another decade in Iraq. Other forces will come to the fore. Or better the US will have to recognize the reality that they are already there and influential whether we like it or not.


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