Monday, January 10, 2005

Stratfor says its over
Via Andrew Sullivan and James Wolcott, the hawkish strategic studies outfit Stratfor believes that the United States has lost its counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq. I don't have a subscription, so I can't peek, but Sullivan quotes:

The issue facing the Bush administration is simple. It can continue to fight the war as it has, hoping that a miracle will bring successes in 2005 that didn't happen in 2004. Alternatively, it can accept the reality that the guerrilla force is now self-sustaining and sufficiently large not to flicker out and face the fact that a U.S. conventional force of less than 150,000 is not likely to suppress the guerrillas. More to the point, it can recognize these facts: 1. The United States cannot re-engineer Iraq because the guerrillas will infiltrate every institution it creates. 2. That the United States by itself lacks the intelligence capabilities to fight an effective counterinsurgency. 3. That
exposing U.S. forces to security responsibilities in this environment generates casualties without bringing the United States closer to the goal. 4. That the strain on the U.S. force is undermining its ability to react to opportunities and threats in the rest of the region. And that, therefore, this phase of the Iraq campaign must be halted as soon as possible.

Mind you, this doesn't make anyone particularly happy, least of all me. The insurgents appear to be among the most cruel and sadistic people on the face of the Earth. I don't pretend to have the answer for this problem. To abandon the country now would be to leave it at the mercy of a skilled and unmerciful insurgency which would almost certainly unleash chaos and killing that would make today's daily body count seem trivial. One would have to have a very cold heart to wish the Iraqis such a gruesome fate.

At the same time, the presence of American troops seems to be doing little more than facilitate the arrival of flag-draped coffins stateside and more killing in Iraq. Especially since the administration appears to be contemplating the formation of El Salvador-style death squads. And yes, my little wingnut, they're called death squads because they are squads of people who go around indiscriminately causing death. These noxious, taxpayer funded groups put a good 40,000 people on ice in El Salvador alone (go read In Our Own Backyard), and the fact that some of them were communists doesn't erase the messy green moral grass stain of that episode from our collective dungarees. That that the Bush administration is considering stooping to such a miserable low only serves to demonstrate how this calamitous strategic mistake continues to debase us all. Thus I must reluctantly call for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq at the earliest possible date after the election, whatever the results.


At 6:34 AM, Blogger Stacey said...

The election seems to be the point at which we could even pretend to make a the Rumsfeldian fantasy of a graceful exit. By this I mean that before is not going to happen, and a withdrawal timed much after the elections will look like what it is - a tail-between-the-legs retreat. I completely concur that we don't have what it takes (in manpower, intelligence or, quite frankly, the iron will to see a LOT of blood on our hands) to put down the insurgency.

My only plea in all of this is that we not proceed in the elections without the Sunni establishment on board. Looking at Lebanese history (which I freely admit is quite different, but nevertheless fear we are in the process of calling forth...), going forward with "formal politics" when one or more groups has withdrawn from the process gives that group the ironic ability to decry their "exclusion" and use this as a pretext for further violence. Even when this "exclusion" is self-imposed (I'm thinking Aoun here), the rhetoric of exclusion can prove a valuable rallying tool.

I'm not sure anything can be done at this point to prevent a full-blown civil war, but we could at least look around the neighborhood and make an effort to prevent it.


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