Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Monday, July 31, 2006


Even Churchill Couldn't Figure Out Iraq

The Bush Administration has created such a mess in Iraq that despairing military strategists are talking about drastic, flawed measures such as taking sides of partitioning Baghdad

By: Joe Klein
Sunday, July 30, 2006

"There is something very sinister to my mind in this mesopotamian entanglement," Winston Churchill wrote his Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, in August 1920. "Week after week and month after month for a long time we shall have a continuance of this miserable, wasteful, sporadic warfare marked from time to time certainly by minor disasters and cuttings off of troops and agents, and very possibly attended by some very grave occurence."

While the world has been fixed on the crisis in Israel and Lebanon these past few weeks, Iraq has reached the brink of a "very grave occurence," an all-out civil war between Sunnis and Shi'ites that could quickly spread to neighboring countries. The Iraqi-led military push to pacify Baghdad, Operation Forward Together, has run into fierce resistance from the Sunni insurgency and the Shi'ite militias. The death toll---an average of 100 per day---is at least double the rate of casualties in Lebanon. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, gave a ridiculously upbeat speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress last week, but his government has been unable or unwilling to cut the grand political deal that is necessary for stability. Any such deal would include a guaranteed proportion, say 20%, of Iraq's oil revenues to the oil-less Sunnis, and also the root-and-branch cleansing of the Ministry of Interior, home base for many of the Shi'ite death squads. "We have been pointed toward civil war since the new Iraqi constitution was approved last October and reinforced in the December elections," a senior U.S. intelligence official told me last week. "The Sunnis have united behind the insurgency because they don't believe the Shi'ites will give them a fair deal." In recent months, according to U.S. intelligence sources, the Saudis and Jordanians, who are predominantly Sunni, have quietly moved to support the insurgency with money and intelligence, fearing that Shi'ite Iran will dominate the new Iraqi government if the U.S. decides to leave.

"They absolutely think we're leaving," said retired Marine Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, author of The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century. "This is what happened in Afghanastan when it became clear the Russians were leaving. The factions began fighting each other."

Afghanastan is instructive: civil war led to the Taliban government; the Taliban provided a safe haven for al-Qaeda; and you know the rest. A U.S. skedaddle from Iraq would probably lead to far worse consequences, given Iraq's strategic location and potential oil wealth. So what do we do now? I asked six leading U.S. military strategists, four of them on active duty, and the desire was univeral. "This is the battle for Baghdad that didn't take place in 2003," said a general, expressing the consensus view. "The strategy of moving more U.S. troops into the city is correct, but...our troops should be partnered with Iraqi units, our military police embedded with their police. The Iraqis must take the lead, but we're going to have to take some risks. Our troops need to be relocated from the safety of their forward operating bases right into the middle of Baghdad. That will mean more U.S. casualties. And if this doesn't reduce the violence over the next few months, we may have to change our basic strategy."

***First of all, this new strategy sucks! Putting ONLY 5,000 U.S. troops into Baghdad is one of the stupidest things I've heard. You'll need much more than that to accomplish what they are trying to do. Secondly, this partnering up with the Iraqis is also ridiculous. They are either Sunnis or they are Shiites. They are already at war with one another because one doesn't trust that the other will take care of "their" people. They are going to either turn on each other in the battlefield or worse yet, they are going to turn on the U.S. troops! This is a civil war that has been coming for years. Bush and his Republican neocons have only worsened it and have finally made it happen. Was that his intention? He has already been called a racist. Is he trying to do away with all Arabs? That's something you yourself will have to decide. Look at what he is doing to the whole Middle East. When will their guns be turned on us because the rest of the world is starting to look at us an "the instigators?"

There was no consensus about what a new strategy might be, but there were two prevailing theories, and each was grievously flawed. "We've got to pick a side," said an Army colonel, who was talking not macro Shi'ite-vs.- Sunni side picking BUT micro Shi'ite-militia picking. "We should move against Sadr," he added, referring to Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, which has been responsible for much of the recent sectarian violence. But even if successful, a move against Sadr would leave the other prominant Shi'ite militia, the Badr Corps, which has close ties to Iran, in control of the Ministry of Interior. The second proposal was chilling. "We could partition Baghdad," said a general. "It's beginning to partition itself." But if the city were divided along the Tigris River---a popular rumor in the Iraqi blogosphere---approximately 1 million Sunnis would be stranded on the Shi'ite side and vice-versa. "The human catastrophe would be extraordinary," said an Army colonel. If partition happens, an Iraqi official told Reuters, "Iraq as a political project is finished," and chaos ensues. Colonel Hammes identified a more basic, undeniable problem: "Talking about a new strategy is useless until we get a new team---in the Pentagon, in the Administration. THESE GUYS HAVE SCREWED UP EVERYTHING. THEY HAVEN'T GOT THE CREDIBILITY TO IMPLEMENT ANYTHING."

Writing to Lloyd George, Churchill, frustrated after all the bloodshed in World War I, asked, "Why are we compelled to go on pouring armies and treasure into these thankless deserts?" But the British had created the problem, cobbling "Iraq" from three disparate Ottoman provinces. They chose sides, picking the Sunni minority to run the country. The Brits remained there 12 years, bleeding occasionally, until 1932. The bleeding continued after they left, as the Sunnis brutalized Iraq until 2003.

The Bush Administration, defiantly ignorant of history, has created a situation far more dangerous than the one Churchill complained about. We are in free fall in Iraq, and there is no net.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home