Monday, August 20, 2007

Expectation vs. Hope in Iraq

Assessment: that the existing Iraqi conflict is driven by foreign aggression and not by a internal based insurgency. That a tactical counterinsurgency such as that happening right now is not going to work. Indeed may be counterproductive if all it does is bring trouble to Iraqis who know themselves to be mere bystanders.

Tradition: the ways to deal with foreign aggression have been either let it happen and accept the casualties or present enough of a threat to the foreigner to scare them into stopping. The first option is not palatable to anybody, but the second I expect is unlikely to happen.

Expectation: In Iraq the American military is the most able to potentially solve the Iraq problem, but will not act. The Iraqi forces are structured to fight a counterinsurgency and are not able to provide a credible threat. The Shia militia (next strongest) in collaboration with Iranian backing could provide a credible threat thus protecting Iraq, but would likely religiously persecute the Sunnis. The Sunni backed by AQ/Saudi are not capable of gaining power if there is a large Shia/Kurdish force, which means they would need to do some "force reduction" work in country.

In an ideal world USA/UK would muscle up and tell Saudi where to stick it on human rights violations, arms sales, wahabism & terrorism (a strong policy signal that could scare most everybody into a reassessment of threat) and make a commitment of support only to the democratic states in the region (pretty much what Bush outlined 6 years ago), but this will not happen. Next best is arming the new Iraqi Army with a credible offensive capability, but the USA is rightfully scared that they will be arming people who will be less than friendly to American (American/Saudi/Gulf State) interests so will not do this.

What I (a pessimist/realist?) think will happen is that America will stay for a few more years fighting a "counterinsurgency" against something that is not an insurgency and then withdraw due to American public opinion. The Shia and Sunni Arabs will go to war with each other and kill a lot of people. A dictatorial regime will emerge and in a gesture of unification of the Iraqi nation (Shia & Sunni & Kurd alike) will blame the mass killings and mayhem they largely carried out on America. America will sell another $20billion in arms to Saudi to protect against this threat. AQ will get covert support from Iran, Iraq & Saudi and bombs will go off in major American cities. America will launch a retaliatory attack on...

Hope: that this is an internal rooted insurgency and the surge works.

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