"Today, the support of Sunni tribal leaders against al-Qaeda in Iraq is hailed as one of the few successes from the U.S. troop increase this year.
The Iraq Tribal Study provided a handbook on how to gain that support by covering the basics. One section, titled "How to Work With Tribesmen," explains that "RESPECT ( Ihtiram in Arabic) is the key," and also warns: "Do not assume that they want to be like you."
The study summed up how the Sunni tribes viewed the conditions that Washington established in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussen. "Throughout the modern history of Iraq, the Sunni tribes have occupied a privileged position in Iraq society and enjoyed wealth, autonomy and political clout," the report said. "To lose those advantages in a system of proportional representation that empowered the Shia, or in a truncated Iraq with a Kurdish autonomous province, would bring shame to a long and prosperous Sunni history."
It also cautioned that the main themes of the U.S. message in Iraq — "freedom and democracy" — do not resonate well with the population "because freedom is associated with chaos in Iraq." In addition, the Sunnis "are deathly afraid of being ruled by a Shia government, which they believe will be little more than a puppet of the Shia religious extremists in Iran."" Pincus
This book was written for the Defense Department by a group of colleagues of whom I was happy to be a member. It was completed in June, 2006.
Although unclassified the book has not been released to the public and for that reason I can not provide it to you. pl
With all due respects, Col., you misunderstand the nature of the tribal conflict now going on in Iraq. It only incidentally has to do with traditional tribal prerogatives of the Sunni clans in Iraq. Rather, it has everything to do with the traditional tribal prerogatives of the Bush clan in the United States.
Once again, you miss the point. Freedom is associated with chaos in the Bush White House.
In short, by attempting to co-opt the Sunni’s the military is barking up the wrong tree. The Iraq War will continue until and unless the Bush family, with all its primitive urges, somehow is co-opted. Who knows, Jeb, Niel, or – goodness – even Jenna might somehow be co-opted. But until and unless such a thing happens, the Iraq War, with its (Bush) irredentist impulses, will continue.
you will not be surprised to learn that I think I am right.
As I see it the US dilemma is not an easy one.
If they only want to secure the road connection to Kuwait and the main oilfields in the far south after the British evacuation they only need to stay well west of Basra Town. There are two main arteries leading north-south from Nasiriyya to Kuwait west of Basra, none of them goes through Basra. The airports too are south west to town. The oilfields of Az-Zubayr and Rumaylah too are south west to Basra. So the minimum strategic needs may be secured without controlling the town. This will also mean full control of Nasiriyya and Samawa, Rumaytha and Diwaniyya. You could also use the eastern routs through Amara or even al-Qurna further south but not any further south.
This however means that the US is indeed allowing complete Iranian control of Basra and the oil terminals coming out of Faw.
My greatest concern is the security of US forces. pl
John Brown, a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in protest at the start of our mad Iraqi adventure, exposed the doublethink involved in trying to balance our imperial asperations with the morality that we are on the side of the angels:
“It’s become quite fashionable to compare 21st Century America with the Roman empire. Like the Romans or not, at least they could not be accused of hypocrisy. They came, they saw, they conquered–without blabbing on and on about the need for ‘mutual understanding.'”
In Julius Caesar’s “The Gallic Wars,” if memory serves, he had no compunction about using some Gallic tribes against the others. Some remained faithful through thick and thin. Others later turned on him when Rome’s occupation seemed precarious. Caesar rewarded the faithful and punished the turncoats–without whining much about it.
Basra has almost 2 million people so why send just one brigade?
Activate the “Grizzly Division” and go after all the different militias, tribes, and who ever else I missed.
In attempting to impose our will of these peoples, I am beginning to think we only make things worse.
Once we start choosing winners and losers we create new enemies, new grudges.
My humble of opinion is secure the supply lines and let them sort it out among themselves.
Maybe Grand Ayatollah Sistani can work out an agreement between them.
From the little I know of Arab culture, the religious leaders are the final arbiter once enough blood has been shed.
Col. glad that it only took the Army a couple of years to use experts like yourself to create a manual explaining to soldiers how to deal with the Arab tribes and people.
Dr Kagan, Dr Rice and the rest of neo-cons are experts on the Soviet Union which I imagine is a totally different situation from the one we find ourselves in now.
Just maybe those Soviet experts are the reason we are in this mess.
I hope everyone read yesterdays article by Fred Kaplan in the New York Times, very interesting information about how the army really works.
I don’t have a clear understanding whether there’s a more cohesive gov’t in Basra than there is in Bagdad. Will the withdrawal of British forces actually effect how Iraqis find stability in Basra?
Basra may be more unstable but the main effect will be the commencement of the final struggle among the Shias militias as well as the danger that the city an its environs will pose for the supply lines of US forces. pl
I think you underestimate the degree to which the more westerly roads will also be subject to ambush in a condition of Shia triumphalism. pl
The “Grizzly Division?”
wrong post lol
Col. Lang, did your Iraq Tribal Study Book recommend that troops stop wearing those ****** sunglasses, and treat Iraqis with respect?
California National Guard, an Infantry Divison.
During the U.S. occupation of Haiti 1915-34 the Marines tried to kill a bandit/resistance leader named Charlemagne. When they finally did kill him they inadvertently turned him into a legend by tying his corpse upright against a tree and photographing it. In Catholic Haitian culture it’s unspeakable to photograph a corpse, let alone distribute hundreds of copies of the photograph. But guess who Charlemagne reminded them of? Christ on the cross!
This was a horrific public relations disaster and it was entirely self-inflicted. The Marines wanted people to know that Charlemagne was dead, and they instead made him immortal. Surprisingly no one thought to show the photograph to someone conversant with Haitian culture before the photographs were distributed, only to find that they couldn’t get the genie back into the bottle once it had been released. And these were Christians.
Brits out and logistics questions
Patrick Lang over at Turcopelier is passing along the following story from the UK Telegraph concerning British troop drawdowns… …
I have been reading your posts and you provide a wealth of information that no newsout can. I thank you for that.
Question. Why has this unclassed study not been released to the public yet?
Nothing sinister, just bureaucratic inaction and inertia. People should ask DoD to release it. pl
Thank you. Can you please provide POC at the puzzle palace to ask for the release?
I think people should ask the Public Affirs Office of the Secretary of the Defense. pl