Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pentagon Report and Baker Commission

The Pentagon Report and the Baker Commission have both ruled out partioning.

Articles here on the new Pentagon Report. Three options being considered called Go Big, Go Long, or Go Home (football always uses war analogies now wars uses football ones--weird).

In typical Pentagon style, the first and the last option are so extreme that the middle option will of course be chosen. Giving no real debate to the question that needs to be asked: Partition or Go Long. The crux of that argument, as I will show in a moment is whether or not (and how quickly) we simply choose sides in the Civil War (SHIA) and let them crush the Sunnis.

Go Big is a massive increase in troops and one final push for "victory" in Iraq. This has no political backing domestically or internationally. Nor is it militarily feasible. Go Home is immediate (and total?) withdrawal. Civil War would explode in that case.

Go Long is a short term increase in troop levels and a shift from fighting the insurgency, which is of course now just a Sunni militia, to training Iraqi troops.

This option of course, whether Bush realizes it or not, de facto is an alliance with the Shia and by extension Iran. Last year we heard talk about only the police being infiltrated by Shia militias/death squads and that the Army was sufficiently non-partisan. Turns out that was incorrect. The Sunnis do not see the Iraqi Army as anything other than a front for Iranian control or at least long term Shia dominance.

This Go Long strategy would bring down the number of troops after the initial increase. Gen. John Abizaid said that the Army can not long sustain an increase in troops levels. The Dems will oppose it. McCain now gives Bush some cover for that option. Maybe Baker too?

But I have my doubts about this Go Long plan. Although to be fair I have my doubts about the federalist plan involved in the partioning. But the Go Long Plan does not fundamentally it seems to me question the premise of whether Iraq can stay together as a unified country.

If it can, seems to me, given recent research on civil wars which shows that negogiated settlements rarerly if ever hold and that civil wars of the last 50 years are ended by one side winnning. That one side is the Shia. Iraq could stay unified only under Shia control with the Kurds to their autonomous North.

1. Don't know if the Shia want that--or some elements at least. Certainly not from Baghdad. I'm thinking especially of the pro-Iranian SCIRI which rules in the South and has pushed for autonomous regions akin to the Kurdish north in the South. To get a hotel reservation in Southern Iraq you have to make the call in Farsi not Arabic. Farsi is the langague spoken in Iran.

2. Given the advent of global guerillas the Shia might be able to hold some control from Baghdad, once the country is completely divided up into ethnic chunks--mass destruction in the meantime--but there will be constant attacks from the Sunni heartland. Not just from an Al-Qaeda prototype but from a Sunni-based separtism movement. They will be able to supply themselves from symphatetic elements in Syria certainly Saudi Arabia/Jordan as well as through the use of the global black market.

So our stay the course the President should admit is Side with the Shia. It's the only way to get Iran to be the regional power it must (with an eventual bomb no doubt) as well as contain them like the Soviets. Also the Shia now hold the key to the Palestinian-Israel crisis which Bush has totally neglected during his term. I thought Tony Blair would have got somem more in return on Israel-Palestine for his support of the War. But sadly not so, he'll be gone from office in less than a year, leaving Brown to pull the British out of Iraq.

With this in place, it is unclear to me to what degree if any the US army can or will act to protect the Sunnis in this interim period. The Sunni buy-in plan of Ambd. Khalilzad has failed. The Sunnis do not trust the government and the Shia don't want them. [That's not to blame Khalilzad, he did everything and more than anybody else].

Real questions to be asked?

How to protect the Sunnis generally to their new depressed state and how to prevent training camps in Anbar province for trans-national attacks (esp. against Israel). What no one has pointed out yet, I think, is that the Iranians, however much hated by al-Qaeda in Iraq (and they are), will be able to find some group to fund to launch an attack against Israel as long as the US does not have them bought in. Even a whiff of Iranian influence would cause the meltdown....Israel against Iran.

Minus that awful outcome, which is possible, there will not be this mass victory for global international terrorism so feared by elements of the Right. If we stay we embolden anti-American setiment. If we leave, in the short term it will be a recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda. So be it. That is the result of not planning the post-war aspect of this conflict. There is no good option, just versions of lesser evils.

The emotionalism of such sentiments are as off as during Vietnam where a "loss" in Vietnam was going to bring a domino effect of communism. The instabilty that is spreading in the Middle East is much more to do with demographics, influx of capital, too much oil lying around, and the US invasion of Iraq--or more precisely the lack of following up with diplomacy what was bound to occur with such an invasion.

A)the split up/splintering of Iraq, B)Rise of Shia, C)Need to push Israel to a non unilateral withdraw (negotiated withdrawal) in the settlements.

My main fear is that Bush has destroyed any support for interventino anywhere for whatever reasons (neocon, humanitarian liberal hawks, etc.).


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