Iraq- An Unbalanced Government That Likes it That Way

"In reality, they are forcing the Iraqi government and the Shia and the Kurds to reconcile with the Saddamists," the official added. "This is similar to going to the South in 1865 and forcing the Confederates to reconcile immediately with the Northerners. And this is not going to happen."

American military commanders involved in the partnerships with Sunnis say they intend to quickly train and register them under the aegis of the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police force. In Anbar province, tribesmen have received training and become policemen, and receive salaries from the Interior Ministry, according to U.S. military officials. The officials have said that as long as the Sunni groups are watched closely and kept from mistreating people, the intelligence they provide about al-Qaeda in Iraq makes them valuable partners.

Mithal Alusi, a secular Sunni lawmaker, said he supported the U.S. military efforts because "al-Qa’ida is danger No. 1 in Iraq."

"The prime minister has to understand this is not a one-man show," Alusi said. "We cannot trust the government to deal with al-Qaeda, to play this game alone. We are very thankful for the American process and the American point of view."

Sadiq al-Rikabi, a political adviser to Maliki, said the government would like to absorb anyone who wants to decrease violence as long as they accept the political process and are recruited in a systematic way to ensure that they are not using their newly official status for nefarious purposes."  WAPO


The post Civil War analogy is interesting.  The government member speaking still thinks of the Shia majority as the underdogs when confronted with the Sunni Arab minority. (20% maybe?)

The present government of Iraq is lopsidedly Shia Arab and Kurd in allocation of power and resources.  These formerly dominated communities have been liberated from Sunni Arab rule.  Not surprisingly, they like the new situation and want to keep things the way they are.  One is reminded of Ben Franklin’s comment to a bystander in Philadelphia, "We have given you a republic, if you can keep it.."  The Shia and Kurds are not at all sure that they will be able to continue to hold power in a new Iraq.  The Sunni Arab, Islamist and Shia secular forces arrayed against them are relentless and the insurgent strategy they are following has some chance of success in restoring, if not Sunni Arab rule, then a balance of state power that favors them in a way disproportionate to their numbers, but, perhaps, not disproportionate to their actual political weight in the state.  After all, there are more ways of allocating political and economic power than "constitutional" elections.

Two points:

– Government complaints about American cooperation with non-jihadi insurgents and tribes should be seen for what they are, pleas for protection against those whom the Shia and Kurds fear.

– It is the policy of the US government to seek reconciliation amongst the Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Shia Arabs.  Thus far admonitions to the government to "play nice" with the other "children" have been met with public stalling and private amusement at the gullibility of the Americans.  An effective performance by the groups with whom the US is seeking "alliance" against the jihadis would shift the actual balance of power toward a situation in which the government may find it necessary to share the "goodies."   Expect to hear more and more frantic protests from Maliki et al.  pl

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43 Responses to Iraq- An Unbalanced Government That Likes it That Way

  1. Leigh says:

    Colonel, you say “a balance of state power that favors them in a way disproportionate to their numbers, but, perhaps, not disproportionate to their actual political weight in the state.”
    But aren’t the majority of those assassinated or fleeing Iraq the very ones who might have the political weight to which you refer: the professors, the doctors, the lawyers, the educated class…not to mention the Baath politicians.
    Now if all the missing billions of US dollars had gone into the hands of the Sunni, that might make a difference but isn’t it far more likely that Shiites got those?
    What I’m getting at is what political weight do you suppose them to have?

  2. jb vanover says:

    But do we really plan on giving the goodies to Iraqi Sunnis? Or will alqaeda-mania stunt reason some more?
    Simply offer Baathist secularists nuclear power in exchange for pacification without too much torture.
    See? this international relations ain’t too hard.

  3. Trent says:

    Could you please explain, “their actual political weight in the state”?

  4. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “their actual political weight in the state”
    Come now… pl

  5. whynot says:

    This will be another in a long line of failed ‘plans’ where everybody with any sort of intellect will be ‘laughing at the gullibility of the Americans’. ‘Look at all the weapons and money they gave us..HAHAHAHA…FOOLS’
    But let me guess, we should just give it six months and see how it works out.
    Personally I’m tired of being laughed at, and wish we had one damn person in this counrty with the credibility to end this nightmare. Hell, you don’t even have to be a leader, the people already have declared what they want. Can we even find that guy? Anybody, anybody, Bueller?

  6. Montag says:

    I think they made a hideous mistake when they went ahead with the first election in the face of a Sunni boycott. Yes, the boycott was foolish, as the Sunnis later acknowledged, but it was also foolish to go ahead and bulldoze them by holding the election anyway. I think it would have gone a long way toward pacifying their fears if the election had been postponed until they could be persuaded that the boycott was foolish, which shouldn’t have taken much. Giving them the bum’s rush instead did exactly the opposite.
    When the Nicaraguan opposition to the Sandinistas pulled out of an election the Sandinistas were excoriated by the Reagan Administration for holding it anyway. But hey, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, eh?

  7. DH says:

    Col. Lang said: “their actual political weight in the state”
    Go on…we’re listening.

  8. confusedponderer says:


    “a balance of state power that favors them in a way disproportionate to their numbers, but, perhaps, not disproportionate to their actual political weight in the state.”

    Lebanon? Very imperfect, but better than street-fighting in Baghdad.

  9. b says:

    “a balance of state power that favors them in a way disproportionate to their numbers, but, perhaps, not disproportionate to their actual political weight in the state.”
    That’s the essential MO in U.S. Middle East policy. The assumed economic or firepower “balance” the U.S. thinks it can achieve by manipulating the locals.
    That “balance” though is to be changed in the rythm of Friedman units, i.e. the billionairs heir, always six-month-long, flat-thought horizont.
    So six month from now, you will see this blownback and changed inevitably with maybe renewed support for this or that Shia or Kurd or whatever is left in Iraq to be blamed for the next catastrophic decision.
    Another fine example of six-month strategy from Palestine:

    [We] learned from sources working for NGOs in Palestine yesterday that they have received from the USAID organization a request for them to present large-scale project proposals for financing [by USAID] in the West Bank on an accelerated basis. According to these sources, USAID …requested, less than 12 hours after the appointment of Dr Salam Fayadh to form an emergency government, ideas for huge projects to be carried out in the West Bank, on condition that these projects be capable of showing quick results in the life of people in the West Bank and that they involve large numbers of Palestinian workers. The sources told [us] that these are [supposed to be] projects in which it will be apparent that there is large-scale American funding for improvements in the life of the people of the West Bank, and that this [American connection to the quick improvements] should be readily apparent to the eye and tangible on the ground….

    And the U.S. thinks after 60 years of resistance the Palestinians will be fooled by that?

  10. The added political weight of the ‘Sunni constituency’ (to the extent that we can speak of one) is to be found in the enormous and very heavy attitude they carry around with them, especially with regard to these superstitious, illiterate Shi’a who somehow have got it into their crazy heads that they’re now running the show.
    When I was in Iraq I was occasionally told by Sunni Arabs that they were in fact the numerical majority. They really did perceive of themselves as somehow ‘bigger’ than the Shi’a and Kurds; if not in size than in culture, intellect, and courage.
    Yet as Leigh pointed out, the vast majority of the Sunni Arab technocrats, doctors, engineers, and other professionals have since fled the country or are dead. So what does this mean for Sunni options in Iraq?
    It means there is no democratic future for them, and perhaps there never really was. Why haven’t we seen that until now?
    Throughout this war in Iraq, the American popular consciousness has tended to view it as an exercise in justice; by deposing a bad king and getting his quarreling sons to shake hands and make up, we would not just celebrate our own heroics, but the heroics of the inner American in every human being. That’s how self-infatuated we are at the moment.
    But now it turns out the brothers are so wretched, they don’t even want to shake hands! What nerve! And while we huff in exasperation, the Sunni Arabs are having their moment of reflection. In the beginning they seemed to think the Shi’a were incapable of government. Now they’ve stopped laughing and feel their back against the wall. The recent attack on the mosque in Samarra – through the Shi’a reprisals it has already provoked – will certainly only contribute to the creeping escalation.
    And how do we react? By trying to piece together some ‘Sunni coalition’ to turn out the television terrorists and then block Shi’a and Iranian expansion in the proxy war which follows. It’s curious. From the rest what we know of George Bush you’d think he would just pick a side and stick with it. Perhaps the difference is that he can tell one American from the other.

  11. To jb vanover:
    There is another assumption which undercuts your proposal of giving nuclear power to a government of Shi’a secular politicians. The peoples of the Middle East are incestuous, all writhing around in a big naked brown ball. Giving nuclear power to one is like giving it to all. The notable exception is India, but we’ve had 60 years now to digest their feud with Muslim Pakistan.

  12. In the Post-Civil War era, the North was highly familiar with the South’s culture, traditions, economics, and other factors. In short, it had very sound basis to decide what would or would not work.
    The South, during the Civil War, was very much, the enemy the North knew. This post makes very clear that the United States, in Iraq, has no idea what it is up to.

  13. W. Patrick Lang says:

    In re the present government setup in Iraq. The Shia/Kurds have to win on the counter-insurgency battlefield to have this arrangement become ‘permanent.” So far, they look like a bad bet.
    what we are really talking about here is the division of power in Iraq after the US gets out.
    I will say again that a partial withdrawal will prove impossible under the present conditions.
    Therefore, we are going to go all the way out (except perhaps for something in Kurdistan). It is just a matter of time.
    The president and his band of merry fantasists may think Iraq is Korea or Germany but that is just more proof of their lunacy.

  14. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Ah, I forgot. This has nothing to do with whatever with your ideas may be on “civil society,” etc. and everything to do with Mao’s admonition that “political power comes from the barrel of a gun.” (approximate)
    Who remembers that Castro has a doctorate in law? Who cares? Certainly not he.
    The nice doctors, landscape architects, lawyers, politicans, etc. will come back after the nasties clear some space for them.
    If you think that fighting does not create history, you are mistaken. pl

  15. DH says:

    Playing on Duncan’s thoughts, the point of arming the now-thoughtful Sunni could be to:
    1-enable them to eradicate al-Qaeda which they can use as collateral to take their place in the only game in town
    2-which would add them to the coalition against pro-Iranian factions.
    That is, the Sunni alone would ultimately be ineffective against Iran and her Shia sympathizers, but a Sunni, Shia secular, Kurd coalition could work.

  16. If (1 ) the (largely Sunni) Baathists in fact only comprise 20% of Iraq’s population, and if (2) the other 80% (Shia and Kurds) cannot defeat and rule them after going-on five years of war (plus a decade of U.S./British sanctions previously) — despite having “the world’s greatest military” (i.e., hideously expensive volunteer imperial militia) killing them, incarcerating them, and rendering them homeless refugees and ex-patriots — then (3) it would now seem a matter of simple recognition to consider them players far heavier in effective weight than all those others arrayed against them. I cannot speak for Colonel Lang, but I think his comments somewhat reflect this assessment. “Anything that doesn’t kill them makes them stronger.” “If you can’t beat them, join them.” That sort of thing.
    Unfortunately for Iraqis and Americans as well, though, Deputy Dubya Bush needs this war-of-occupation to continue at least until he leaves office and can blame his disaster on someone else. He began this needless, discretionary, unforced error of war-to-have-a-war on the bad assumption that it would gain him political capital and show up his mistaken father (the earthly one) for not doing what the “smarter” son had the “guts,” “instinct,” and “crisp decisiveness” to do. The “political capital” from getting to play “the commander-in-chief in time of war” only lasted long enough to loot the Clinton surplus and get a few right-wing judges added to those already on the Supine Court; but still, both the Iraqi and American people seem powerless (or disinclined) to stop him from squandering not just the political capital that he has already used up, but the very real capital of both affected countries, present and future.
    The decadent American regime itself, along with its attendant corrupt courtier “elites” (both civilian and military) now find their own legitimacy in question. Saving George W. Bush and his war-to-have-a-war-for-political-capital has now become the sole, over-riding preoccupation of all those — in both politicl parties and throughout the bureaucracy — who aided and abetted this pathological pretender. So, the self-interested desire to escape unscathed with all the plunder — as well as future opportunities for more — will drive the regime and its enablers to resist ending this war-of-occupation on the watch of those who bear primary responsibility for starting and continuing it. Will they succeed with their stall? Upon that question hangs the fate not just of our Army, but of our republic, as well.

  17. Montag says:

    The PBS Frontline program will be shown Tuesday night at 9PM E.T. (but check your local listings). It’s called, “Endgame,” and will be about the surge in Iraq. After the broadcast it’ll be available on the internet at
    Let’s remember that in both Germany and Korea the fighting stopped when the whistle blew and there were no insurgencies to defeat. Anyone hear a whistle?

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    My understanding has been that the defeat of an insurgency requires the death of 20% of the population. This means a million Sunni Muslims in Iraq will have to be killed for Shia & Kurds to win – a clear impossibiliy; I should think.
    So power sharing actually might work or at least, money sharing.

  19. Got A Watch says:

    If the Americans are perceived by the Shiites to be favoring the Sunni fighters too much, the Shiites may decide the neo-con adventure in Iraq has gone on long enough, and is no longer to their advantage. So far the Shiites have been kept leashed by their perception that the Americans are helping them do the dirty work of defeating the Sunnis. If that is no longer true, what reason do they have to co-operate with America?
    If Ayatollah Sistani and Moqtada together issued a joint fatwa demanding all “foreign fighters” leave Iraq within say 6 months, or face a general jihad, how tenable would the U.S. position be? Maliki would likely go along with his religious superiors and refuse to pass any “benchmarks” or extend any agreements for foreign forces to remain in Iraq beyond the mandated end of 2007. American and British forces would then have 4 or 5 months for the 10 month withdrawal plan.
    You could say Malike is weak, but he is actually in the drivers seat if he wants to be. He could make a speech tomorrow demanding US troops leave this year, and at least of 80% of Iraqis would cheer. Watch GWB try and talk his way around that one.
    But then America would cut off financial support to the Iraqi government you say. So what, I say. The Chinese would be happy to step into Iraq with piles of ready cash to advance now, and no strings attached, to get the oil down the road. They are already doing it all over the world, Iraq would just be one more name on the list. And they have the piles of cash sitting around to do it any time they want. Chinese workers would swarm Iraqi oilfields and get the oil moving east faster than was thought possible – they’ve done similar things in several places in Africa already.
    This leaves the Kurds as the only US ally left in Iraq who could be expected to do anything useful, and then only within their own area at best. The days of peshmerga being deployed to Baghdad are pretty much over, I would bet. They will need those troops at home to fight the Turks. And how will Turkey feel about that support for the Kurds and bases in Kurdistan? The Turks will probably demand the oil from Kirkuk flow their way, but the Kurds won’t be too eager to sell it to them, Turkish invasion or not.
    The neo-cons have led America deep into the shifting desert sands, and there only remains the magnitude of the defeat to be assessed. Staying in place just makes it worse, as everything that goes wrong can now be easily blamed on America, as they already do.
    The blowback is of an epic scale, and only starting to unfold. If any humans survive to tell the tale, a risky proposition, in future periods they may marvel at the pinnacle of strategic ineptitude achieved by America during this era.

  20. Char;les says:

    All sides will just suck as much out of the U.S. to use against anybody-not-in-my-gang/tribe and whatever balance of power can be established with the U.S. still in occupation will just be refought immediately after a withdrawal. For chrissakes, they should just get out, let ’em get on with establishing made in Iraq(mostly) facts on the ground.

  21. Just Someone says:

    About 80% of the Kurds are Sunni Muslims & aprox 80% of the Muslim population worldwide practices one form or another of Sunni Islam. Even though their numbers are dwindling, Druze, Christians, secularists, etc. are also still in the mix. Once the dust settles, which will take awhile, don’t be suprised if Iraqis are not all single issue voters.

  22. Sid3 says:

    This new tactic — arming and supplying Iraqi Sunnis who oppose Al-Q — appears to rest upon an assumption not previously stressed — we are going to lose, at least to the extent we had this chimerical dream — actually arrogant delusion — of a Jeffersonian democracy flowering in an Islamic desert.
    If this is the new assumption, then perhaps the goals of the new tactic include 1) ensure a ground condition that will protect US troops for the year or so it will take for us to leave Iraq. 2) create an Iraqi government that is hostile to Al-Q so Iraq will not become an Al-Q haven once US military presence ends.
    The problem of Iraq becoming a sanctuary for Al-Q appears increasingly acute. At least according to some news reports, Iraq is now a net exporter of Sunni jihadists to other Middle Eastern nations and beyond. In other words, the argument of fighting Al-Q “over there instead of here” — thus justifying the US occupation — is no longer valid.
    But here’s what is interesting, at least to me. We could reach these goals in 15 minutes if we sat down and continued a diplomatic approach with Iran. But we are not going to do so.
    So it makes me believe that arming Iraqi Sunnis is part of a long range and regional strategy, especially if you look at the work of Eliot Abrams in Lebanon and our support of Fatah.
    An emerging regional strategy perhaps includes the following: the US militarily supports Sunni “moderates” who oppose Al-Q and the Iranian Shia as well as acquiesce to Israeli aims to continue occupation of the territories, most particularly East Jerusalem.
    Such a strategy infers that ultimately we aim to foster a Sunni-Shia conflagration that will transcend national borders. Such a strategy perhaps is an echo of that colonial technique of divide and conquer, but one now pitched outward beyond a single nation and applied to an entire region.
    If this is the strategy, then what is the motivation? Well…what would a rapturist do and why? What would Natan Sharansky do and why? What is their ultimate aim? It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
    In my civilian opinion, this strategy will not bring peace and stability. From what I can tell, Sunni “moderate” translates to Sunni “corrupt” in the mind of the Sunni, so we will continue to alienate the vast majority of the Muslims and thus take the East and West one step closer to a “clash of civilizations” — a goal apparently some people in the USG fervently desire to see.
    Of course, the leaders of Al-Q and some Shia want the same. It’s the dynamic of the deadly embrace, to borrow the title from one of Bard O’ Neill’s books.

  23. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “But here’s what is interesting, at least to me. We could reach these goals in 15 minutes if we sat down and continued a diplomatic approach with Iran. But we are not going to do so.
    So it makes me believe that arming Iraqi Sunnis is part of a long range and regional strategy, especially if you look at the work of Eliot Abrams in Lebanon and our support of Fatah.”
    your comment assumes that negotiating with Iran is an acceptable option for the administration. I think it is not. What they want from Iran is surrender. THAT is part of the long term strategery. pl

  24. Kyle says:

    When executing this step, “I will say again that a partial withdrawal will prove impossible under the present conditions.Therefore, we are going to go all the way out (except perhaps for something in Kurdistan). It is just a matter of time.” How do we protect our Iraqi supporters?

  25. W. Patrick Lang says:

    We should be privately planning on evacuating them and re-settling them. pl

  26. Cold War Zoomie says:

    An NPR report on our teaming up with Anbar tribes sounded pretty even handed this morning:
    NPR Story

  27. Peter Principle says:

    “In re the present government setup in Iraq. The Shia/Kurds have to win on the counter-insurgency battlefield to have this arrangement become ‘permanent.’ So far, they look like a bad bet.”
    They may start to look like a much better bet if the US pulls out and the Iranians move in. Which is one reason I tend to think the new tactical alliance with the Baath is aimed more at Tehran than at Al Qaeda. (Old wine in new bottles, etc.)
    But, as always, the law of unintended consquences still operates. Kissing and making up with the Baathists, we frighten and alienate those in the Shia Islamist parties who might otherwise have looked upon the American presence as a useful check on Iranian influence (nobody likes to be a puppet, after all, even of their friends.) Malaki and company can do more it than just protest about it. They can guarantee an early and highly visible failure for the “surge,” and/or lay the groundwork for Iranian intervention once President Hillary or President Fred finally give up and leave.
    With Iranian support, I’d give the Shia parties and the Kurds better-than-even odds of prevailing over the Baath and Al Qaeda, albeit with enough scorched earth and mass graves to make Bosnia look like a Swedish kindergarten class.

  28. FB Ali says:

    “We should be privately planning on evacuating them and re-settling them”.
    I don’t think the US needs to worry too much about that. All of them have large amounts of money stashed away in foreign banks. And they probably have their own evacuation plans ready.

  29. W. Patrick Lang says:

    FB Ali
    I am unconcerned with the fate of those now looting Iraq.
    It is the little people that concern me. pl

  30. JT says:

    Colonel Lang: will you be posting on the Taguba report mentioned in S. Clemons blog yesterday? Thank you sir.

  31. confusedponderer says:

    The sad thing is that considering the current Arabophobia (a ports deal anyone?) there is a good chance the US won’t want to have them – after all they’re islamiacs and thus spooky potential terr’ists.
    So far the Iraqi refugees mainly come to Europe, namely Sweden, if they’re lucky. Well, that doesn’t mean it can’t change. But this year, when the United States has promised to take in 7,000 Iraqis, around 20,000 are expected to seek asylum in Sweden.
    * US to welcome 7,000 Iraqi refugees
    * Sweden to press other EU nations on Iraqi influx
    * Cold Comfort in Sweden for Iraqi refugees

  32. Just an ex grunt says:

    To Sid3,
    Is the tactic of supporting the Sunni tribes in taking out the foriegn fighters based on the assumption of losing, or on the assumption that without
    the active assistance of those Sunnis we have no shot?
    I personally don’t believe that this tactic was devised by our officers and proposed to these tribes so much as it was the tribes themselves acting in retaliation for the brutality inflicted on them by these Jihadists. It’s been going on for quite a while, and has recently snowballed.
    We are just surfing that wave. Wisely so,IMO.
    It’s the only shot we have at reducing the Jihadist
    perpetrated violence. How much of the total level of
    violence that is, I do not know. But I would like to find out.

  33. Cloned Poster says:

    What’s the adage of “learning from history?”; read this:
    The massacres of the Assyrians in 1842-1847 and World War I genocide have taught the Assyrians a hard lesson. When the Special Commission conducted a voting among the population of Mosul regarding whether they preferred to be under a Turk or Arab rule, the Assyrians were one of the main reasons why Mosul was rewarded to Iraq because the Assyrians have refused to be under Turkish rule. Having failed to resolve the Mosul Province (Vilayet) issue at the Treaty of Lausanne (November 1922 – July 1923), British and Turkish delegates met in a Conference at Constantinople May 19, 1924. The British delegation under Sir Percy Cox (former high commissioner in Iraq) insisted on the inseparability of Mosul from Iraq and asked yet to attach the Hakkari Vilayet to Mosul too. The Assyrians were laying claims at this time for this whole region to be as a buffer zone between Turkey and Iraq. [Harry N. Howard, “The Partition of Turkey: A Diplomatic History 1913-1923”, University of Oklahoma Press, 1931, p. 337] During the proceedings of the conference, Fathi Beg, the Turks chief negotiator, stated that no cession of land to the Assyrians was necessary as they could still live in peace in Turkey! To this Sir Percy Cox replied that Fathi Beg’s assertion did not square with the Assyrians’ own views and that they had the most vivid memory of the treatment they have suffered in the past at the hands of the Turks. In a letter from Dr. Rev. W. A. Wigram to the editor of “The Near East and India”, wrote that if the British were not going to return the Assyrians to their original homes, then the Assyrians were to be provided with, and as Lord Curzon put it in the House of Lords on 17-12-1919, “either an enclave, or arrangements for a safe and decent existence.” The League of Nations promised the Assyrians “all their rights, including autonomy…” as the reward for assigning Mosul to Iraq (Turko-Iraq frontier. C. 400. M. 147. 1925. VII. P. 90) [Yusuf Malek (of the Iraqi Civil Service 1917-1930) “The British Betrayal of the Assyrians”, Chicago, 1935, p. 327]
    The Iraq Levies, which was a British Force first comprising mainly of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomans, did not impress the British, later this force became predominantly Assyrian, who practiced great discipline. This force had helped to bring stability to the newly born state of Iraq. The levy flushed north of Iraq region from the sporadic Kurdish insurrection and the expulsion of the Turkish irregulars in 1923. For these reasons, among others, the Iraqi Government pledged assurances to provide lands for the Assyrians in north Iraq. Sir Henry Dobbs, His Britannic Majesty’s Government representative in Iraq, quoted one of these assurances, which appeared in the Letters of Gertrude Bell, under statement by Sir Henry Dobbs. The letter says:

    “…In order to reassure them (the Assyrians) as to their future, two successive Iraqi cabinets, those of Jafar Pasha and Yasin Pasha, officially pledged the Government of Iraq to provide lands in Iraq for those Assyrians who might be dispossessed of their original homes by the decision of the League of Nations and to devise a system of administration for them which would ensure to them the utmost possible freedom from interference. It can hardly be doubted that this liberal attitude on the part of the Government of Iraq had its influence on the deliberations of the Frontier Commission.” [Lady Bell, “The Letters of Gertrude Bell”, Vol. II, New York, 1927, p. 552] Read also, Annemasse (Mar Eshai Shimun), “The Assyrian Tragedy”, 1934, pp. 18-19.

  34. whynot says:

    Maybe we should be planning on helping the little people, but you certainly can’t believe it is going to happen. Currrent American foreign policy doesn’t concern itself with such trivial matters. It’s no way to conquer the world.

  35. jborynec says:

    It seems to me that much of the analysis of Iraq’s situation contains a flawed premise.
    That premise is that american particpation is somehow independent of or above the factional infighting going on between the shia, sunni and kurds.
    A better way to do the analysis is to regard american participation as just another faction in Iraq’s political stew.
    I believe that the other factional players *do* regard the american involvement this way (i.e. as just another factional player). I also believe that it explains their reactions to some of the american initiatives (e.g. benchmarks).

  36. ISL says:

    Also presumed is that this new strategy is part of an effort to create the conditions for a withdrawal within the next year or so. If not, it has numerous possibilities of making things worse.
    I would argue that if this was a serious effort rather than PR, or the nth change of strategy, then it would not be publically pronounced as run directly out of/by the US military. Instead, the aid would come from an acceptable alternate source (Saudi? Iraq Gov’t? other Iraqi group?), with some US verbal greenlight for domestic PR. This would allow tribals accepting aid not to later be forced to demonstrate their independence (as non-traitors non-collaborator with an occupier) by turning on the US.
    (Of course if withdrawal really occurs, then this concern is moot).
    which while likely part or all propaganda, illustrates the quandry.
    Unfortunately, IMHO, this administration is trying to lock in the next administration to a continuation of the Iraq war, both to force a continuation of the US as a ME power, and also so the next admin will “own the withdrawal.”

  37. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t think so. This was all in the news a couple of years ago. pl

  38. Cloned Poster says:

    Isn’t it ironic that the US are arming the Sunni, and funding Abbas to destroy the demcratically elected Govt of Palestine?
    How long before a Sunni/Kurd coalition in Iraq?

  39. frank durkee says:

    ISL. Whether that is their intention or not, and I belives and have so stated that it is, that will be th outcome. Bush has made it clear in statementsw that he sees this as an ongoing ‘thing’. The new General is making the same pitch now also. One has to keep in mind that this group came into power to ‘change’ things both internationally and domestically.

  40. pbrownlee says:

    The can that keeps being kicked down the street must be pretty flat by now.
    “Blair’s most senior foreign affairs adviser at the time of the war makes clear that Blair was ‘exercised’ on the exact issue raised by the war’s opponents. Sir David Manning, now Britain’s ambassador to Washington, says: ‘It’s hard to know exactly what happened over the post-war planning. I can only say that I remember the PM raising this many months before the war began. He was very exercised about it.’
    “Manning reveals that Blair was so concerned that he sent him to Washington in March 2002, a full year before the invasion. Manning recalls: ‘The difficulties the Prime Minister had in mind were particularly, how difficult was this operation going to be? If they did decide to intervene, what would it be like on the ground? How would you do it? What would the reaction be if you did it, what would happen on the morning after?
    “All these issues needed to be thrashed out. It wasn’t to say that they weren’t thinking about them, but I didn’t see the evidence at that stage that these things had been thoroughly rehearsed and thoroughly thought through.’
    “On his return to London, Manning wrote a highly-critical secret memo to Blair. ‘I think there is a real risk that the [Bush] administration underestimates the difficulties,’ it said. ‘They may agree that failure isn’t an option, but this does not mean that they will avoid it.”,,330040167-124804,00.html

  41. Sid3 says:

    To Col. Lang:
    Thank you for the critique. I will continue to plow ahead.
    To Just an ex grunt:
    Thank you for the insights as well. You ask if our aligning with the Sunnis is based on the assumption of losing (which I wrote), or on the assumption that without the active assistance of those Sunnis we have no shot.
    Here’s how I see it. Assuming that genuine diplomatic relations with the Iranians is not an option, then aligning with the Sunnis is our best shot to prevent Iraq from turning into an Al-Q haven. It also is our best shot — one hopes — to protect US troops as they pull out of Iraq. Finally, it seems to fit into a regional and strategic goal of an Iranian surrender.
    Up until now, the assumption underlying the planning of the “surge” was that we could actually build a stable nation-state in Iraq — one with governing institutions based on a Western model. So the aim of the “surge” under Gen. Petraeus was to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis according to the dictates defined in his COIN manual and based on the (anachronistic, imo) Trinquier-Galula template.
    This new tactic — seeking the assistance of certain Sunnis — perhaps represents a “paradigm shift”. The underlying assumption is that we are not going to achieve the goal of creating a Jeffersonian democracy and that, in reality, Iraq is in chaos and becoming an Al-Q haven.
    You are right and I probably should not have used the word “lose” in the earlier post. Maybe I should have written that we have “failed to achieve the strategic goal of creating a peaceful and democratic Iraq” or something along those lines.
    By the way, I still believe we can defeat Al-Q et al. if the USG simply comes up with radically different applications of the principles mentioned in Petraeus’ COIN manual, particularly on a global level.
    In my opinion, Abu Sinan revealed how to do so — at least in part — in one of his earlier posts.

  42. jamzo says:

    posted today on the washington note
    Still Losing? The June 2007 Edition of “Measuring Stability in Iraq”
    Working Draft, Revised: June 20, 2007
    Anthony H. Cordesman

  43. Just an ex grunt says:

    To Sid3:
    Thanks for the reply. I’m here to learn and appreciate your expanded
    comments. I don’t disagree
    with any of it.

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