Saturday, August 13, 2005

Winning Iraq - Mark I

This is going to be an ongoing thing and any modifications will be gladly accepted.

Lessons learned from the loss in South East Asia and the win in Central America - the enemy needs to be isolated from funding and support and then the enemy needs to be forced to give up.

The Easy Problem

The enemy in Iraq consists mainly of the Sunni tribes of Iraq. Their loyalty is tribal and if they can gain a good deal for their tribe they can be placated through the political process. This political process needs alot of attention.

In addition to the Sunni tribes there are also Kurdish and Shia tribes. These have benefited so far from the presence of American and allied trrops. These groups have been forming the new Iraqi security forces and as such constitute a real threat to the Sunni tribes. These growing non-Sunni Iraqi security forces are a way to pressurise the Sunni towards a deal.

The tribes are a solvable problem because they can be convinced with threats and concessions that can be made effective on the tribe. Screw ups like the debaathification process have made it more difficult, but the tribes are in the process of bargaining for a future within Iraq.

The Harder Problem

The Baathists were the empowered senior Sunni from the old regime. They were dumped on by the Americans at the start of the occupation (blanket deBaathification) and have probably accounted for 70% of the American casualties in response. They are getting support from the Syrian Baathist state and form the most effective anti-occupation forces in country. However they are all local tribal people and as long as the political negotiations continue they could well be accomodated.

The Big As Insolvable Under the Current Strategy Problem

The global jihad for a caliphate (al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, et al.) is in Iraq, it is also active in Europe, SE Asia, Africa, southern Russia and probably America. Iraq is the hottest, most visible part of the jihad. The jihad has a strong root in the fundamentalist wahhabist sect of Islam, this teaches that the Islam is about purity of actions and beliefs (Sunni Islamic supremacists). This sect is the state supported religion of Saudi Arabia and is strongly followed in Yemen. The House of Saud has spent billions providing free schooling in wahhabism (also reading & writing) throughout the Muslim world. The House of Saud has spent billions as grants to immams through out the world to preach this purity of Islam. The House of Saud has spent billions providing charitable care and welfare to the sick and needy throughout the Muslim world. Wahhabism's teachings are quite well known and many Muslims of fighting age are sympathetic to it's message.

The jihad was not tolerated under Saddam and has had to establish itself in Iraq during the occupation. The jihad has become more effective as time has passed, they have an almost endless supply of recruits which they are now bringing to bear on the Iraqi conflict. As supremacists they are enemies of everyone who is not Sunni, this means 80% of Iraq are targets to them.

They have worked with the local Baathists, worked with the Sunni tribes, but they are not part of the tribes. No pressure applied to the tribes, no carrot offered to the tribes will stop the jihad. They are motivated in the belief that they are acting in Gods will, their motivation cannot be destroyed (IMHO).

The only effective way to hurt jihad will be to hurt members of the wahhabist sect. This would reduce the funding for the hospitals, schools and mosques that promote jihad.

The hardest way to do this would be to introduce democracy across the Middle East (the Bush plan). Democracy is not acceptable to the practice of wahhabism. Wahhabism preaches loyalty to/umma with the leaders of the people, democratic societies view their leaders as an unfortunate neccessity and not to be trusted. A democratic Middle East would leave the Arabs to rule themselves, which they may even like. Unfortunately wahhabism is quite popular and it could well win any election.

The easier way would to enforce leaders on the wahhabist countries who are not sympathetic to wahhabism. A secular military dictatorship might work, a modernising king with a distrust for the clergy or whatever is available. A dictator such as this would need to purge out any unsympathetic elements within the clergy, 10,000 or so dead would be a likely result. But once the purging is done wahhabism and its followers would have to endure as the pure sons of Islam without billions of dollars of discretionary spending.

Even though it is the harder and more risky thing to do I think democracy would be a better plan, more stable in the long term. But if a dictator could be found to hold the reins for 50 years (until the oil runs out)...perhaps this new king will be useful or perhaps the next one or the next one after that.


At 15/8/05 3:16 PM , Blogger Always On Watch said...

A word here about Saddam...

Saddam wasn't much of a Muslim and certainly not a Wahhabist. His hedonistic practices were not part of Wahhabism. This despite the fact that both OBL and Saddam fall under the general classification of Sunnis. Of course, the dispute between Sunnis and Shi'ites has its root in the controvery over succession to Mohammed.

At certain times, Saddam marched out the flag of Islam when he wanted support from Muslims. He used Islam as it suited his political purposes.

Back in the 1980's, when I first heard of Saddam, it was in the context of a Christian missionary's speech about Saddam's desire to become the 20th Century Nebuchadnezzar, who was, of course, not a Muslim. The missionary told the audience that Saddam wanted to re-establish the Kingdom of Babylon--not a Muslim concept, per se as Babylon far predated the founding of Islam. In fact, the word "Muslim" never came up in the missionary's presentation. I used to hear an occasional item about the Babylon re-establishment in the media, but I don't believe that I've heard anything about that matter for many years now.

In general, many people do not recognize many of the internal workings of the sects within Islam.

At 16/8/05 12:35 PM , Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

The time to decide on democracy or benign dictator was before the liberation of Iraq. We could have kept the Baathists in power and allowed another to take control. The removal of Saddam was sufficient to discourage future threats. Libya’s confession and abandonment of their nuclear program is proof.

However, that time is long since gone. Now we have to insure the jihadists don’t get a foothold in Iraq. There are many possibilities. Democracy is the most costly but politically the others are less acceptable. I don't see anyone on the national or world stage who has another solution to rally others around. Do you?

At 16/8/05 1:42 PM , Anonymous B.Poster said...

Saddam showed he had no problem working with Jihadists. On a personal level, the Jihadists and the Baathists may not have liked each other but it did not stop them from working together. Whether or not to disband the Baathists or not to disband the Baathists was a tactical decision. In retrospect, it may have been a bad idea to disband them. Can you imagine the response of the main stream media had we chosen to keep them? They would have gone nuts!! They are going to criticize this administration no matter what it does. Anyway moving on, the options are 1.) Supporting a secular dictator who will restrain the Jihadists. 2.) Promoting democracy 3.)Simply leaving Iraq now. Option number three is the one the anti-American left supports. This would be an unmitigated disaster and would only hasten the day that western civilization ends. I consider option number three considered and rejected. Unlike the anti-American left, I want to preserve America and Western civilization. This leaves us with options 1 and 2. I generally agree with the premise that democracy is more risky but is a better long term solution. What is certain is that we must get this right. The survival of America and Western civiliation depend on getting this right.

At 16/8/05 11:27 PM , Blogger unaha-closp said...


Islam is complex - I shall have to start on the reading lists you and Jason have put up.


There is no one advocating a dictatorship, but it was standard practice during the Cold War for both the USSR and the USA to entrust difficult countries to friendly strongmen. And if there is an early withdrawl there will be a use for a strongman to defend American interests.

B. Poster
Even if all the arab states joined together in some kind of caliphate (a worst case scenario very unlikely to happen), its not a big threat to western civilisation. Western civilisation is way too strong, well armed and big.

However a withdrawl now that delivers victory to the salafists would make them stronger within the Muslim world and any war that leads to their defeat would have to be longer or more intensive.

The problem with the current strategy is that the USA recognises that it is being attacked by salafists but does not target those funding the teaching of salafist wahhabism. It is the equivalent of fighting the Cold War without targeting those funding the spread of communism.


At 18/8/05 3:24 PM , Anonymous Elmers Brother said...

I think you were dead on in this post -

Elmers Brother

At 18/8/05 6:59 PM , Anonymous B.Poster said...


I agree we and our allies will have to a better job of targeting the funding for the terrorists. If the anti war left would raise this issue, they would be being productive. This does seem to be a problem with our current strategy. I agree it is unlikely that Islamic Extremists could conquer the West by themselves. Actually the biggest threats to the West come from Russia and China. I am concerned that either or both of these could ally with the Islamic Extremists against us and may already have done so. In any event, while we are fighting the Islamic Extremists we must remain vigilant and make sure to keep an eye on the bigger threats posed by Russia and China.

At 18/8/05 7:13 PM , Anonymous B.Poster said...

Some progess has been made in cutting off funding to the terrorists but unfortunately, at this time, it is no where near enough.

At 21/8/05 3:18 PM , Anonymous gravelrash said...

Thanks for bringing up the "responsibility of the left" issue, as you have done.
The sanctimonious harping on "morality" that has hallmarked their responses to date, has moved from the offensive (who appointed them moral arbiter?) to the criminal (treasonous in time of war).
The left has as much of an obligation to tackle Universal problems as the warriors. That they do not shows the full extent of their pusillanimity, and the moribund state of their rhetoric.
Nothing to say = irrelevance.

At 22/8/05 2:28 PM , Blogger Always On Watch said...

Yes, Islam is complex and indeed a different culture. I can't tell you the number of hours I've spent trying to wrap my mind around its complexities. Also, I have found the many principles of Western logic simply do not apply.

Beyond the complexities of Islam itself, inter-tribal warfare is a consistent element within Islam since the death of MTP. It's all very difficult to keep up with.

The most important enemy to understand right now is Wahhbism, which, in many respects, is simpler than other Islamic sects

What emerges in Iraq is of the utmost importance. A "failure" there, however that term is defined, would be devastating for the Middle East--and for the rest of the world as well. Wahhabists are doing everything within their power to prevent the establishment of any form of democracy in Iraq.

At 22/8/05 5:09 PM , Blogger Mike's America said...

Unaha: If that was you who actually left the comment about appeasing the Saudis at Mike's America, perhaps we can develop a more substantive dicussion on the topic other than cheap shots at Bush.

As I've said before one tool would be the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act. Unless of course the preponderance of Democrat co sponsors for the House bill intend it for just another cheap shot.

At 22/8/05 6:55 PM , Blogger unaha-closp said...

Yeah it was me.

The Saudi Arabia Accountability Act sounds a good idea.

Cheap shot? Do not know, though it could be used as one if the President balks. It is likely that the Democrats are getting less campaign funding from Saudi related arms & oil industries now that they do not hold power, so it would hurt them less. But traditionally both parties have benefitted, so any cheap shots could be countered by pointing out how much the Clintons may have recieved.

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