Thursday, October 26, 2006

Overview of Policy Chage Options for Iraq

Reflections on Charlie Rose (interviews Les Gelb and Robert Kagan). Click on episode 10-25.

The Bush line--which is not any longer called Stay the Course, but is in essentials Stay the Course. Les Gelb, thinks Bush just wants to hold the troops in Iraq until 2008--so that he hasn't lost the war. Kissinger's advice to Bush--there is no exit strategy but victory.

If that is the case, then as Gelb suggests Bush will not only wreck his presidency but the next president who will be a one-termer likely. I've heard some Obama-supporters argue that he should not run for this very reason. McCain would only be a one-termer who for his greater loyalty to Bush would earn the role of Hamlet.

And Bush's policy has failed.

Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, (and John McCain?)--Send in more troops. Still no answer to the fact that the government has the validity. Power has devolved to the local level. Open source wafare and all the rest. Plus this has no political support in America.

Mediate Republican Plan--Graham, Warner, Baker? Bring in Syria/Iran, the Sunnis, and Turks.

The Democrat Line--various versions of a timetable. Get out immediately. Set dates, set a timetable, etc. The criticism: that we are singalling a loss and which will embolden "terrorists." By which the critics mean various al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda inspired groups, who will gain a foothold--not as strong as Pakistan perhaps--but in the heart of the Middle East.

al-Qaeda can not take over a government, has no popular mandate. But they can wreck massive havoc. Also, with an American pullout, the civil war explodes.

And these arguments are true.

The Joe Biden/Les Gelb Plan. Tri-partitie regionalism, buy ins on oil, water to the Sunnis, Shia, Kurds. Criticism (from a Ferguson): leads to further bloodshed. Would it lead to a regional war? The country can't be split easily because of mixed populations. The mass flux of refugees and ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods--already happening. Will happen at a clip beyond belief.

So the real question--after Vietnam there was this worry of the dominoes theory of communism. Which turned out to be completely wrong. Vietnam has now become Capitalist, as China has become their prime motor.

Nixon-Kissinger made a deal with China--Kissinger foresaw the multi-polar world coming. The obvious answer would be to make such a move with Iran.

The argument has come up about whether our lack of winning the peace in Iraq (Bush sticks with this War imagery, the War has been over for years....which is the source of most of the confusion on both sides).

The Dominoes would then be as Rumsfield said a Caliphate. Which of course is nonsense. The Dominoes would more likely be a regional war. The Shia have risen--that is a domino falling but a rising.

Kissinger told Bush that if Iraq fails, it will be worst than Vietnam. Vietnam was a tragey--as Charlie Rose points out--of human loss, American and Vietnamese.

The problem with still calilng this the Iraq War, as Barnett notes, is that wars are either won or lost. Post-war Iraq is neither won nor lost but only degrees of each. There will never be victory in Iraq in this sense. This is the crux of hte multi-polar world. It's only degrees of bringing people into modernist ways.

The US still has lawless ghettos for God's sakes. Why do we expect diferently in Iraq of all places?

So what dominoes are there to fall? There is no Caliphate coming. Although there could likely be an Waziristan-like al-Qaeda holdout in Anbar. Which becomes a base for operations against Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria.

The dominoes are not to al-Qaeda but possibly to Sunni Islamism (very different than al-Qaeda) taking hold of the Levant. Oil comes into play then. No doubt about it. The Shia, if only we would pull the Kissinger move on Iran, would lead like China, to likely modernization (a la Vietnam) in 15 years, maybe sooner.

The real shoe or domino dropping or whatever--which is totally obscured by all this War questioning, missed by both parties in its holstic sense--is what to do about Sunni heartland?

The Shia have won. Period. End of story. They will continue to face brutal fighting I'm sure in Iraq. But overall their trajectory is clear--towards China, Russia, India. Hence I call for a deal with them.

The Shia get their oil from China. China is the crux of all this. If we want this multi-polar world to hold together going forward, China and the US must come to the table. China is our mediator with Russia, will be with Iran, and could pull the plug on Kim.

The issue is the Sunni heartland. And the fact that the Shia are in Lebanon and Syria, which gives Iran leverage to pull a Sunni-Shia lockdown against Israel/US as long as the US refuses to accept its nuclearization.

What none of these positions really thinks about is long-term and the change from Sunni dominance to Shia. That is the herat of everything. Bush doesn't see it, the Dems don't see it, pullout, stay the course, all of these are abstract useless arguments and will figure themselves out however they do, outside the context of what is the future trend.

Similiarly the arguments for Ethical Realism, Liberty under Rule of Law, Neo-Realism as future policy proposals--again all of those have some measure of truth but absolutize their partiality to go integral for a moment.

There are those who refuse to see the multi-polarity of the future--and that includes many pullout Democrats by the way. Then there are those who see it here but flinch and see only pain and horror/danger coming as a result (Ferugson, Kagan). The next step is to see what is possible in that future--what is hopeful.


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