With the four-month-old "surge" in U.S. troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight Al Qaeda-linked militants who have been their allies in the past.
The commanders say they have successfully tested the strategy in Anbar Province and have held talks with Sunni groups suspected of prior assaults on U.S. units, or of links to groups that have attacked Americans, in at least four other areas where the insurgency has been strong.
In some cases, the commanders say, these groups have been provided, usually through Iraqi military units allied with the Americans, with arms, ammunition, cash, fuel and other supplies.
U.S. officials who have engaged in what they call "outreach" to the Sunni groups say the groups are mostly ones with links to Al Qaeda but disillusioned with Al Qaeda’s extremist tactics, particularly suicide bombings that have killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. In exchange for American backing, these officials say, the Sunni groups have agreed to fight Al Qaeda and halt attacks on U.S. units. Commanders who have undertaken these negotiations say that in some cases Sunni groups have agreed to alert American troops to the location of roadside bombs and other lethal booby traps. But critics of the strategy, including some U.S. officers, say it could amount to the Americans arming both sides in a future civil war" IHT
""Oilies," don’t bother to read this. you already know everything, about history, the world, etc.
For the rest of you I will say that this tactic as well as that of cooperating with tribal groups in Iraq (whether Sunni or Shia) has my full support.
Can you trust them? Will they be loyal to the Americans (or the government)? Is this "paying protection money?" Will this hurt the Iraqi government?
The answers; No. Not necessarily. No. Maybe (So what!)
– You can’t logically make a comparison between 1 – paying a hoodlum in the US not to beat you up and 2 – supporting a dissident guerrilla leader who may be of use to you in an insurgency in a foreign country. This is isn’t Sunday School, folks. Did you really think that the various kinds of Iraqis were going to become ardent candidates for Alderman, Councilman, Member of School Board, etc. just because you think they should be eager to be what you think they should be? If you do think that, you should get out more. People want to be what they are. They do not want to become something out of a group of foreigners reveries in graduate school. That was was what was wrong from the start with the whole neocon thesis about the Middle East. They knew nothing other than what they told each other that they knew, and what little they did know was wrong and distorted by special interests. There was never any chance that their fantasies would be realized in Iraq. They were not criminal. They were just uninformed and conceited.
– It is not a question of the "new friends" being loyal to anyone except themselves. People are generally faithless if they think their interests are not favored. You have to to deal with that. That is how people generally are in the Middle East (or anywhere else). The real question here is whether or not these people can be useful to you with regard to something specific that you want to get done. (like kill Jihadis) The solution, use’em and then abuse’em if they become a real liability.
– "Protection money?" Let’s call it a bribe. A lot of you will be more comfortable with that. It isn’t really a bribe. It is what used to be called a "subvention." Translation? Sometimes people need and want to do something for which they have not the means. Providing the equipment and money that makes that work isn’t a bribe. It is just common sense.
– The Iraqi government? Hah! I am concerned with American interests.
The Puritan heritage of the dominant culture in the United States is really showing in the drivel that is being mouthed about these issues. War is not about virtue as opposed to sin. War is about the struggle of opposed interests and wills. To begin this war, a "morality play" atmosphere was generated which led to "war fever" on a massive scale. It was skilfully done by people who thought "they knew best." I hope they are happy with the result of their efforts. The country is only now slowly recovering. It is as though the United States is now in a protracted "de-tox" program.
Some of the insurgents fought American troops? Yes, and we fought them. We fought the Germans and Japanese and Vietnamese Communists. I served in the field with former VC and NVA soldiers during the unpleasantness there. We need to grow up about this. The Calvinist assumptions that govern popular thought in this country lead to an unwillingness to accept change of this kind. Get over it. pl