Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thomas Ricks Interview Charlie Rose

Thomas Ricks on Iraq with Charlie Rose. He's the best US reporter on US military planning, discussions, and strategies.

Key points:
1)Troops will begin to pull down by the latest March 2008. The Army simply can not go beyond that date.

2)When announced through history (British in Aden & Afghanistan; Soviets in Afghanistan), supposedly loyal local troops will often turn on the departing forces. i.e. Expect insider Iraqi units (perhaps loyal to death squads) start attacking American forces. Once all the groups realize a power vacuum is coming, they must plan for their post-occupation lives. i.e. Fight the former occupiers.

3)Withdrawal on a planned orderly schedule never works out that way. What Ricks describes as an "avalanche" effect starts to take over, all the momentum pushing towards exit.

4)There are no good options left. Only least worst. The war was won, the peace has long been lost. And the consequences will be bad.

5)The US is heading towards containment of Iraq---i.e. the position where it more or less was prior to the War. This time no Hussein and the containment will be on the ground, not the air.

6)The country will slide into de-facto partition, even though large percentages of Iraqis polled do not want such an outcome. Kurdistan (minus a Turkish invasion) will be relatively safe. The Shia South will be a Civil War between the Mahdi Army and the SIIC. Who knows about the Sunnis. They will be/are cleansed from Baghdad. Continued intra-Sunni fighting and who knows about the insurgency and/or a possible invasion by the Shia military which may cause an influx of Jordanians and Saudis.

7)Ricks thinks (and I generally agree) that the US will be in containment mode for some 10-15 years.

8)It is hard to motivate a US force structure to fight what Ricks calls "negative" goals: prevent genocide, prevent AQI, prevent regional war, etc.

As he ends by saying, if you liked the last 5 years get ready for the next five. This is going through to the next president and will likely make the next president a one-termer. This is why I might secretly (though I don't like to admit it) be pushing for Hillary because I'd rather see her career go down in flames than say Obama's. It's going to be dark and ugly from here on out. No "victory caucuses" and no "Congressional sleepovers" and pull the troops out bills are going to stop this slide to medium-grade anarchy and slow burn death.


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