Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Source Cited for Make up of Iraqi insurgency

Matthew had asked where I got the number 99% when I wrote here (and later changed to the vast majority of) that 99% of the insurgents were Iraqis. I knew it was either on the Cole site or the site. I re-discovered it after a little searching. [In Juan Cole].

The full post of Juan Cole's Here.

I've excerpted the key passages but the whole is worth reading.

Here's Cole:
Bush and Cheney speak as though the enemy there is a terrorist international, a stateless al-Qaeda dedicated to establishing an Islamic superstate and bringing down the United States. That is 99.99 % wrong. Almost all those fighting in Iraq are Iraqi nationalists.
And further on:
A recent study by Gen. Barry McCaffrey suggested that there are in fact 100,000 insurgents (I prefer the term guerrilla) in Iraq, not the 20,000 to 25,000 usually estimated by the US military. Iraq's previous interior minister estimated the number of foreign fighters in Iraq at less than a thousand. Most of these are Salafi Jihadis of one sort or another (revivalist Sunnis). So 99,000 insurgents are Iraqis. And none of them is al-Qaeda in the sense of being loyal to the organization or fighting for Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. They are fighting for some vision of the Iraqi nation, whether inflected by religion or not.


At 11:05 AM, Blogger MD said...

Thanks for digging that up. I'm curious if this study by Gen McCaffery is available, which contains his suggestions Cole cited?

And who is the "previous foreign minister", when did he leave, and how trustworthy is his estimate? All questions we should be asking, rather than just swallowing Cole's conclusion without skepticism.

questioning assumptions,

At 11:32 AM, Blogger MD said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger MD said...

Ok, I found McCaffrey's report.


It seems that your characterization, of the vast majority, is accurate.

It seems that Prager's characterization is wrong. (Though I think your descriptions of him on this are bad faith rhetoric, and you should know better.)

McCaffrey's main conclusion: "In my judgment, we can still achieve our objective of: a stable Iraq, at
peace with its neighbors, not producing weapons of mass destruction, and fully committed to a law-based government."

Important to keep that in mind.


At 6:09 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

McCaffery is definitely one of the biggest proponents of the surge and the idea that victory (as he defines it in your quote) is still achievable.

That's why it was a good source for Cole to cite. They both interpret the same facts to very different ends.

I don't know about the bad faith rhetoric. I don't like the soldiers being brought into debates--either for or against the war.

The reason I get riled up by something like what Prager wrote is that it strikes me as in the mold of Cheney saying the insurgency was a few dead enders.

100,000 people does not qualify as a few dead enders. At least McCaffery is more honest about the degree of the resistance.

My political disagreements against the strategy connected to the surge is that it (to me) still assumes the US military can simply impose its will on a population. And this is not to be. Not Petraeus, but the discussions for/against in the blogsphere.

That was my question with Prager---does he really think the majority are foreign fighters or does he know differently and won't admit it or can't allow information that contravenes his own held convictions?

The debate in the US sphere often is so totally divorced from Iraq in my estimation.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger MD said...


My guess is that Prager made a genuine error. Of course having a column means one incurs responsibility for its contents. So, critique of that is fair game. But you went much further than that.

But you criticize motivations and intent and, frankly, you aren't qualified to do so. Few people can know what is in another person's heart. And you, nor I, nor anyone but his wife and family, can know either.

That you think you can is silly. Listen to his radio show for a while -- better yet, call him up and tell him he made an error. I really doubt you would think, after doing so, that he did anything except make an error.



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