Sunday, April 08, 2007

Politics and War Disconnect

A superb article by Tom Ricks (Wapo), one of the top tier of writers on Iraq.

The subject, the increasing chasm between Washington's political debate and the surge. As Gen. Petraeus states the earliest the army will know whether the surge is succeeding at all will be late summer, early fall. [Not John McCain going through a market or President Bush saying it's working].

As experts in the article note to actually defeat an insurgency would take "5 to 10 years minimum." That is not going to happen. The country is already well over a majority against the war and the Republicans if the troops are still in Iraq will go down to a historic defeat and become a party in exile for a decade at least. Bush cares more about his legacy than his party.

The source of the disconnect between the domestic politics and foreign war lie in Bush's failure to outline the nature of this fight. To continue to call this a War which means a military response. To not outline that the nature of this fight will be wars followed by much harder reconstruction, peacekeeping.

--That policy requires more than the United States involvement. We are holding the Iraq bag alone. Bush's unilateralism has been very destructive here.

--Also W's inability to pull the domestic society into the fight. i.e. Not to cut taxes during a war. Not to leave the entire weight on the army. To have no plan for reconstruction. To have no diplomatic surge and no idea what the hell is going in the world.

--Not to mention his uber-partisan Rovian strategy of stoking the base and fighting our own country's political parties for short term political gain. A divided electorate and political class is exactly what will not help in this Long War. The Republicans and Democrats were smart enough during the Cold War not to fall into too much of this.

But here's the key:
Also, officers say, major questions remain about the sustainability of any positive momentum. Military operations can buy time but cannot solve the basic problem in Iraq: the growing threat of a civil war. The U.S. government keeps pushing for reconciliation, but there are few signs of movement toward that goal. "Nothing is going to work until the parties are ready to compromise, and I don't see any indicators yet that they are," said A. Heather Coyne, who has worked in Iraq both as a military reservist and as a civilian. "Until then, any effect of the surge will be temporary."
The surge is a tactic. It will, as I argued, increase security in Baghdad and violence will spread to other regions of the country--mentioned in the article. The Shia militias will likely stay low as long as possible, so the US can continue to kill Sunnis for them. But there is no changed strategy overall. Bush is still relying the idea of a unified Iraqi state with Maliki, a non-sectarian army and police. This isn't a reality.

By the Democrats becoming the pull out party and Republicans the keep the surge going (for awhile anyway) the political debate is completely sterile. A continued surge is useless given there is a desire for a Civil War on the part of the people that matter in Iraq. Period. They want a Civil War. It is going to happen, is already happening. The cycle of violence has spread too far for this to be stopped in my mind. The middle class has already fled Iraq, the very people that were needed to stabilize the country post-Saddam. The ones who are left are pure sectarian politicians, thugs. There are no leaders in Iraq.

Kurdistan is a success. We have to get Turkey to live with it.

The Shia Southern State will be a partial success with continued attacks on civilians from Sunnis for a decade or more to come.

The Sunni state will be an absolute disaster. The most that can be hoped for there is that the violence is not of an al-Qaeda variety spreading to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. But it will be the poster boy of the Gap, a ghetto existence with daily killings, joblessness, and despair.

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