Sunday, December 10, 2006

Meet the Iraq War

An extremely important Meet the Press today. Click here.

The first half (minutes 1-21) James Baker and Lee Hamilton on their report.

More important even that that, however, is the second half with Tim Russert and Panel. Starts at minute 22.

The Panel are some very bright people--Thomas Ricks (author of Fiasco, covers Pentagon for WashingtonPost); Richard Haas, former member of Bush administration (1st term) one of the great minds of American foreign policy; and Eliot Cohen, distinguished military historian whose son is in Iraq as a soldier currently.

Haas raises the real threat that the war will spread out beyond Iraq or that Iraq will become a version of the Congo (90s Civil War) where neighboring countries like Uganada, Rwanda, Mozambique fought a proxy war on Congolese soil. Think 30 Years War and the devastation of Germany.

That is the possibility that keeps me awake at night. The proxy war would of course be Jordan-Saudi Arabia (Egypt?) against Iran. Syria would likely have competing influences as the country is mixed Sunni/Shia. The Turks always hold back the wild card of invading Kurdistan although I think that's a very remote possibility, but there is military arming going on at that border. Maybe border skirmishes.

Ricks mentiosn that he thinks--as do I--that the US will be in Iraq for 10-15 years, likely with a force presence--as military consultants, startegists, tech-logistical support, air power--in the range of 50,000.

I think it will be many years of this stalemate if a regional war does not occur. The Sunnis will continue the insurgency and be very successful/destructive through the use of lessons learned by fighting the much more capable American Army, but will never take over Iraq again. The Central government will not fall per se but will continue to be weak and marginalized and only have power as an instrument through the militias.

The real wildcard is of course Moqtada al-Sadr. He holds the largest militia--elements of which he himself can no longer control. He is anti-Iranian, which is why he has split from Prime Minister al-Maliki (Dawa party) and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim (SCIRI), both pro-Iranian. especially Hakim who brought a letter from Iran to Prez Bush when he visited the White House last week.

Sadr wants to throw the Americans out, fight the Sunnis, and overthrow the central government and kick out the Iranians. He is a real wild one--a Shia Iraqi nationalist. I think he has no real political vision but power. He could throw monkey wrenches in at many many points but also could be the only one to prevent a regional war.


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