Sunday, April 08, 2007

John Burns on Iraq

A 3 part interview on NYTimes with John Burns, correspondent for four years in Iraq. [Also covered the Bosnia conflict 90s].

Burns has been wrong on a few major pieces, as he himself notes in the pieces. Burns if of the opinion that the surge must be made to work because he feels a regional conflict is otherwise inevitable. He may be right about the inevitable part.


Part I: Without using the terms, Burns is describing the shifting 4-5th Generation Warfare model. Saddam's people took their entire regime of Terror underground letting the Americans even into Baghdad and giving up the reins of government to fight without the burden of ruling. That is why the US has been unable to defeat the insurgency. Burns also goes through the financing of the insurgency: stolen oil, kidnapping, counterfeiting American dollars, and money stolen originally from central bank. i.e. self-sustained terrorism (open-source).

Part II: Burns says that his travels to Iraq in the late 80s through the 90s "mesmerized" him into the level of sheer terror and violence perpetrated by Hussein and the Baath party. As a result, he says, reporters forgot the history of Iraq, that Hussein was sitting atop centuries long hatreds just waiting to bubble up once he was deposed. Why the Americans were not ready for the civil war to emerge.

--The Shia have never ruled in this part of the world. And as Burns notes, they have never been involved in reconciliation. They have never bought into the idea of a unified non-sectarian Iraq. The Shia parties are Shia fundamentalist religious parties (SCIRI, Dawa, and Sadr, all three). The Shia also know the Americans, like the previous President Bush, will leave and that the fight was not with Hussein only but Hussein was just the embodiment of the Sunni desire for total domination. The Shia know a Civil War is coming and are simply consolidating their power and waiting for the day the battle rages.

Part III: Saddam kept 250,000 military/police to control Baghdad alone!!!! The US will have about 1/8 of that at best in Baghdad. Burns' position here stumbles. He says the surge must work, but he also admits there are not the right number of troops to make it work. He lays out the (strong) case for why a regional war could ignite. Centuries long rift between Shia/Sunni on the 2 or 3 largest oil reserve in world. Nuff said. The European Reformation Religious Wars plus Oil, plus modern technology/weaponry, plus religious ideal of martyrdom=bloodshed and misery beyond imagining.

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