Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bing West Reports Back From Iraq

Bing West is back from Iraq and has posted his trip report at the Small Wars Journal.

What, then, is the biggest problem? How the Americans can infuse into the Iraqi army and police in Baghdad a sense of mission and even-handedness such that the Americans can withdraw from neighborhoods in eight to twelve months without backsliding. ...

Trust will decide this war. We know the essence of the problem: Whether the Iraqi central government and security forces are led by deceivers who tell us they believe in a stable federation with power-sharing, while they abet sectarian division. In my most recent visit, there was the pervasive, open acknowledgement by the police, IA and the residents that they trusted the Americans, but not each other.

28 Comments:

Blogger allen said...

Since I believe everything I read in the NYT, I know Baghdad is the most dangerous place in the entire Milky Way. So, how is that all the neighbors are coming for tea and biscuits next weekend?

There is a message in this folks.

3/03/2007 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"...I know Baghdad is the most dangerous place in the entire Milky Way."

Even more dangerous than Washington, D.C.?

3/03/2007 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Tom_Holsinger said...

Note that Mr. West does not say which war he is talking about. There are several wars going on simultaneously in Iraq, and those vary in importance depending on the factions, involved, and American forces make up more than one faction (the CIA and State Department are not on our side).

Our ultimate objective in Iraq is to keep it from being used as a base for terrorism against us, and keep it from supporting terrorism against us. This means first and foremost breaking up the alliance between its Sunni Arabs and foreign terrorists.

And the way that objective is being realized is chiefly being done by Iraqi forces - almost entirely by Shiite militias and death squads who ethnically cleansing Baghdad and other areas of Sunni Arabs.

This is not something we can stop. We can only slow it down a little and somewhat mitigate the worst excesses. As Jim Dunnigan said on Strategy Page:

"With the U.S. remaining for a while, the expulsion of the Sunni Arabs would proceed in a kinder and gentler way."

http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/iraq/articles/20061226.aspx

3/03/2007 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Bing West said . . .
Whether the Iraqi central government and security forces are led by deceivers who tell us they believe in a stable federation with power-sharing, while they abet sectarian division.

There is a strange ellision in this question which can provide an answer once the lack of specificity is addressed. Instead of "central government" and "deceivers" plug in the more precise terms that we know to be true: a government dominated by Shiite Islamist parties dedicated to Shiite supremacy (i.e. SCIRI, Dawa and Sadrists). Don't we already know the answer here? Can we really be so naive at this late a date?

3/03/2007 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...the CIA and State Department are not on our side...

Whose side *are* they on?

3/03/2007 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

The failure of the Neocon/Sharansky vision of the noble purple-fingered freedom lovers has given way to the Holsinger perspective a lot of Americans now endorse.

Save the Sunnis that inflicted 95% of the casualties on us? Fuck 'em.

"The more dead Iraqis the better, and shedding American blood and treasure for those assholes is not something I support."

"If Sunnis from other nations are dragged in and then Iran joins in the slaughter on behalf of the Shiite Death squads, the more the merrier. Just as long as millions or tens of millions of Islamoids on the losing side don't demand Bush keep his Borders open for them...30 to 100 million hispanics added to our population by 2050 is bad enough."

My own tidbit is news that 90% of National Guard units are now reporting they are degraded and not fully ready for future engagements because their equipment sent to Iraq has had major losses due to fine desert grit, extreme use - and the Bush Administration refuses to budget to repair or replace equipment lost in supporting the Iraq mission.

As for "terrorist havens", does that mean if we lose Iraq that the terrorists in Pakistan, Egypt, KSA will move there instead?

3/03/2007 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

It would be wrong to think that only the Shi'ites or the people in the Iraq government lie. Tom Holsinger I think is correct in saying that we want to keep the country from being used as a terrorist base. But I think it is more than that. One wants to keep any country in the region from entertaining the idea of attacking the United States. It must be made absolutely plain that anyone who does that will be utterly destroyed.

That Iraq is full of factions shouldn't mean we are in favor of any of them. We should be in favor of a process. The process of being civil, as democratic as possible and of not attacking the United States. If the factions adjust to that then one can ask for little else. To gain that end, we can play one side against the other. But the goal should be plain: a Middle East that will not be allowed to become a base of violence directed against the West.

To withdraw in defeat from Iraq would be an admission that yes, you can attack America with impunity. Few of the groups that have signed on to the initial strategic goal -- that of excluding terrorism from the region -- will likely trust the West again.

3/03/2007 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Say it again wretchard, all caps this time.

3/03/2007 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Tom_Holsinger said...

nahncee,

To the extent they are on any side other than their own, I'd say that the CIA and State Department on are the side of either/or France and the Democratic Party's base.

3/03/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

reocon,

Harrison has some thoughts reduced to an excellent essay on knowing one’s enemy. While not a perfect fit to your thesis, it is well worth the time of a reading. In fact, I dare say, there are some universally applicable lessons for all.

Memoirs of a Colonel

3/03/2007 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Tom_Holsinger said...

Wretchard,

Ethnic cleansing of most of Iraq's Sunni Arabs - reducing their proportion of the Iraqi population from about 22% in 2002 to 7-8% (we're more than halfway to that goal) would most definitely:

make it "absolutely plain" that those who support terrorism against the U.S. "will be absolutely destroyed."

Even if it is not us who does that.

3/03/2007 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

"That Iraq is full of factions shouldn't mean we are in favor of any of them. We should be in favor of a process."

Yes, that is it. The Necessity of the war was to knock Iraq out of being a problem-exporting country. The Nature of this war has been driven by a desire to change the dynamic in the middle east from dictators to Something Else. The Something Else is supposed to be something more democratic and less inclined to exporting violence. In the process we end up playing everyone against everyone while demonstrating that it would be Real Bad to P.O. the USA.

Our single biggest problem has become not the war(s) itself but how to demonstrate that the process we created is not a defeat for us. With a great many people - the Democrats, the MSM, France and Russia, assorted Leftists, assorted crazies, Iran, Syria, Al Queda, etc - all wanting that defeat to happen, we can be assured that it will indeed happen in their preceptions. It simply will.

Back in the mid-90's a group of Leftists calling themsleves "historians" held an "anti-trumphilism" conference in New York City with the theme "Quit bragging about how you won the cold war because you didn't." Meanwhile, there are millions of sad cases around the world that think that 9/11 was a BusHitler plot. Probably pretty much the same people think the Apollo Moon landings were a hoax.

3/03/2007 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Uh-ohhh...Pooty shootin' up people over here who disagree with him now!

3/03/2007 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

3case,

Gee whiz, man, I took your point on the dangers of DC. You didn't have to go postal.

3/03/2007 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Just for the record:
I am all in favor of EVERY policy put in place by Vlad Pootie, from Chechnya to Romania, from natural gas to jailing oilmen.

Just want to make that clear that these are, and always have been MY Feelings, ok?
Honest.

3/03/2007 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

The more dead Iraqis the better, and shedding American blood and treasure for those assholes is not something I support.

If Sunnis from other nations are dragged in and then Iran joins in the slaughter on behalf of the Shiite Death squads, the more the merrier.


Would you be willing to say that on al-Jazeera? Is this the message you want sent far and wide to the entire Islamic world?

Once Muslims hear voices of delight from their enemies upon news of their fratricide, they would turn their attentions toward those who seek to turn them against one another. One principal reason why al-Qaeda seeks Muslim fratricide is to give Muslims an opportunity to sharpen their swords for killing the rest of us.

I don't think a nuclear war in the Middle East would benefit the United States.

3/03/2007 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger AspergersGentleman said...

Americans are not SAFE to dream or monster mash or backgammon because we have forgotten that luxury and opulence are gifts given to us at the end of the 20th century so that we can make the 21st century a luscious and soft one.

It is as if the Vladimir Putins of our consciences have gotten the better of us, killing the Yankee Doodle Peter Pans before we had a chance to fly out the window to Never Never Land discovered by Francis Fukuyama.

And so Americans are not even safe within our own skulls because of rampant guilt, shame and embarassment sweeping the nation. Chinese couples at checkout and Mexican families and dashing Korean Stemcellintologists and beautiful scientologists are forging a future that america is too skiddish to embark upon. We cannot hide behind our football burger anchor because it masts us to our vulgar 20th century harbor! Who wants to cast off their shackles? I DO!

3/04/2007 01:30:00 AM  
Blogger AspergersGentleman said...

The departure of corporal punishment from the American public space left a vacuum that has yet to be filled. Instead, its members are but transient suitors for the mantle of authority that is forever logically and morally beyond their grasp.

Spare the rod, spoil the public mind.

You never see a Roman-nosed Saudi hanging his head in shame, for he knows a public space that defends itself from scoundrels calls him a member. He will look to the Arabian night with his head held high and know that golden arches and i-pods are not needed when man has natural beauty and natural virtue.

Iraqi public space needs corporal punishment desperately but cars and VBIEDs cannot be practically considered as they are difficult to control.

If Iraq's surplus of cars could be used, perhaps Maliki could order bad people tied to poles and cars backed up into them. Or a person would be confined in a PANOPTICON FILLED WITH CARS that all laid on their horns until the punished person understands what he/she did wrong.

We have options. We need to use them.

3/04/2007 01:35:00 AM  
Blogger AspergersGentleman said...

Iraqi pride and trust are low because bathroom facilities force the worldly Iraqi to squat in the gutter of a street in plainview of his countryman and push his business out his backside behind no privacy and with his inhibitions literally parted.

Do you expect civil society to flourish in a place where men are weeping as they strain, amidst the dissonant relief and humiliation?

They've no national monuments to ponder and nothing to flush. They've only the earth to sully and try to walk away from, and try to avert their eyes as one of their peers, their brothers, fathers, uncles squat to do their own public deed.

Its a national geographic cover photo you'll never see: the tear stained cheeks of the constipated arab post-nationalist, as confused about his identity as he is about his poverty.

A shame we could not build latrines worthy of the hanging gardens

3/04/2007 01:41:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Forgive me if this article has already been linked, but it expresses the obvious view of history that any honest, clear-thinking person has of our surrender in Vietnam:


Remember: for Cambodia, read Iraq by William Shawcross, author of Sideshow


Even if the original plan of creating a beachhead in the heart of our enemies' territory was "A Bridge To Far" - we had to attempt a breakout strategy to get more quickly to the end of this war, which has endured for six decades already. History seems to forget that the bold airborne attack behind Nazi lines, and the ensuing disaster at Arnhem, cost more Allied lives than D-Day. Many tragic mistakes were made, perhaps the greatest of all the boldness of the attempt. But we won the war.

In today's Inky, Mark Bowden goes to confession, sez he was wrong not only about the WMD's but also the noble ideal of birthing an alternative to dictatorism in the Mideast. He even admits the UN sanctions would be over by now and Saddam would still be in power. He's only denouncing his own former convictions, ignoring the global threat of Islamofascism and our need to respond with at least an attempt at long-term victory.

To Bowden and all his learned brethren I would ask: Okay, what would you do in this world war?

If Arnhem was a bridge too far, did those troops die in vain? Did Eisenhower, Montgomery, FDR, Churchill and all the rest - did they fail us by trying to defeat Nazism in one bold stroke?

3/04/2007 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

Tom_Holsinger said...
Wretchard,

"Ethnic cleansing of most of Iraq's Sunni Arabs - reducing their proportion of the Iraqi population from about 22% in 2002 to 7-8% (we're more than halfway to that goal) would most definitely:"

85% of the Muslim world is Sunni.
Killing 10 million Iraqi Sunni Muslims sends a great message to 800 Million non-Iraqi Sunni muslims.

Being in favor of a Holy War with 800 Million people is about the most ignorant thing I have ever heard. By definition it would have to go nuclear. There aren't enough bullet and bomb factories to kill even 8 million people without nukes.


Nuking the oil fields that China and India depend on pretty much means China, India and Pakistan would have to go nuclear to defend them. Oops...kiss Japan,Taiwan and South Korea goodbye tomorrow morning at 9. Might as well kiss Europe good bye as well. Our man Putin will just drive West gobbling it up while our Army is tied up fighting the Chinese.

When it is all said and done, only 2 or 3 billion people will be dead..but hey...someone thought it would be a good idea to be killing 10 million Sunni's because maybe 10,000 Sunni's needed killing.

3/04/2007 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Soldier's dad wrote, 85% of the Muslim world is Sunni. Killing 10 million Iraqi Sunni Muslims sends a great message to 800 Million non-Iraqi Sunni muslims.

Ethnic cleansing does not mean 100% genocide, a lot of Sunnis are voting with their feet, and their Sunni "brothers" in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria aren't exactly welcoming them with open arms. But then the Palestinians already blazed that trail.

Oops...kiss Japan,Taiwan and South Korea goodbye tomorrow morning at 9.

America is their nuclear umbrella, and we kiss back.

Our man Putin will just drive West gobbling it up while our Army is tied up fighting the Chinese.

Normally I would object that NATO stands in the way of his tanks, but NATO is off in Afghanistan handing out soccer balls and stuff.

3/04/2007 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Wretchard, I don't follow this

..."One wants to keep any country in the region from entertaining the idea of attacking the United States. It must be made absolutely plain that anyone who does that will be utterly destroyed...To withdraw in defeat from Iraq would be an admission that yes, you can attack America with impunity. Few of the groups that have signed on to the initial strategic goal -- that of excluding terrorism from the region -- will likely trust the West again."

Who is the target of total destruction of the enemy? C-4 is correct reminding us about the Administration's past focus on the purple finger fetish.

The big winner in Iraq seems to be Iran. That was a present handed to them by GWB and the genius of his strategy.

The US has won by insuring no WMD's. Killing Saddam and establishing a new shining democracy. There is no victory. There is no defeat.

The US military hands out korans with white gloved hands. Islamism has not been diminished. Radical clerics are spared and mosques are off limits.

The US was attacked by 16 Saudis who killed three thousand Americans. Saudis spend lavish amounts of money for madrassas and the spread of their bizzare insane cult of Wahabbiism. Should they be the candidates to be utterly destroyed?

3/04/2007 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"The US military hands out korans with white gloved hands. Islamism has not been diminished. Radical clerics are spared and mosques are off limits."

It has long fascinated me that the PC crowd that will fight a Nativity scene on a public lawn tooth and nail will labor endlessly for the establishment of Sharia.


"Saudis spend lavish amounts of money for madrassas and the spread of their bizzare insane cult of Wahabbiism. Should they be the candidates to be utterly destroyed?"

In a word, yes...been sayin' that since 9/11.

3/04/2007 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger PossumTater said...

"Iraqi pride and trust are low because bathroom facilities force the worldly Iraqi to squat in the gutter of a street in plainview of his countryman and push his business out his backside behind no privacy and with his inhibitions literally parted."

You mean they don't sniff afterwards? So what's the deal?

3/04/2007 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

soldier's dad - Being in favor of a Holy War with 800 Million people is about the most ignorant thing I have ever heard. By definition it would have to go nuclear. There aren't enough bullet and bomb factories to kill even 8 million people without nukes.

There were more than enough bullet and bomb factories 90+ years ago and 60+ years ago to kill 32 million and 60 million people.

And if Islam started a Civil War, with Muslim against Muslim, what exactly is the harm to other region's interests? It took the 30 and 100 years wars and up to a 7th of Northern Europe dying to complete Christianity's Reformation and embrace rationaism and the Enlightment in those wars wake.
It took two World Wars to make the Europeans relinquish the bloodthirstyness Muslims embrace today, Japan, only 1 World War.

Better they kill one another, than us.
And bombs and bullets are not the main culprits in demographic collapse of the war's loser - pestilence, famine, high child mortality from collapsed social systems usually do the most damage. No nukes needed.

******************

Alexis on communicating hopes for Muslim terror to turn inward instead of on us infidels, until enough blood is shed that Muslims grow sick of butchery:

Would you be willing to say that on al-Jazeera? Is this the message you want sent far and wide to the entire Islamic world?

No, of course not. Even Muslims that wish to eradicate the Jews, then all infidels worldwide are so stupid.(and there are plenty with such wishes to repeat what they did to half of Christian lands, the Zoroastrans, the Indian subcontinent Buddhists). Strategy is sometimes hoping for the obvious, but denying it every step of the way with your mortal enemy.

3/04/2007 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

cedarford,

re: No, of course not. Even Muslims that wish to eradicate the Jews, then all infidels worldwide are [not]so stupid.

You need to get out more, because they certainly do. Try reading MEMRI.

3/04/2007 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

t"And if Islam started a Civil War, with Muslim against Muslim, what exactly is the harm to other region's interests?"
"Better they kill one another, than us."

Previously -

...If the goal is Iranian Shia nukes acutely and Saudi-sponsored Sunni Wahhabism chronically, the strategic tactic is to turn the enemy one against the other, such that they deplete their resources fighting one another, lessening each side's ability to attack the West.

...for the jihadi, his death is the only thing that matters to him: take that away and nothing is left. Make his death a lonely, useless, ignored death. Unextraordinary, unromantic, trivial deaths shatter the glory of the jihadi’s death.

...................................
Islam's Sunni-Shiite split
A look at the historic divide within the Muslim world - Dan Murphy

February 02, 2007 edition
Shiite-Sunni conflict rises in Pakistan Attacks on Pakistan's Shiites echo rising sectarian strife in the Mideast.

February 16, 2007 -
(MEMRI) London-Based Syrian-Born Historian Mahmoud Al-Sayyed Al-Dugheim on Al-Jazeera: Iran Established Global Shiite Government, Operating in Accordance with the Protocols of the Mullahs of Qom, to Annihilate the Sunnis

Today - 3/4/07
Iran poised to strike in wealthy Gulf states
By Colin Freeman, Chief Foreign Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph
...Were America or Israel to attack Iran, such cells would be instructed to foment long-dormant sectarian grievances and attack the ex-tensive American and European business interests in wealthy states such as Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Such a scenario would bring...chaos to the Gulf, one of the few areas of the Middle East that remains prosperous and has largely pro-Western governments (Wahhabism is so Pro-Western you know).

The claims have been made by Adel Assadinia, a former career diplomat who was Iran's consul-general in Dubai and an adviser to the Iranian foreign ministry. They came as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, made a formal visit to Saudi Arabia yesterday in what was widely seen as an attempt to defuse growing Sunni-Shia tensions in the Middle East.

Tomorrow - March 5 - The Christian Science Monitor
...Saudi Arabia, Iran target Mideast's sectarian discord -
At a meeting in Riyadh, leaders of the two nations discussed Iraq's tensions and regional Shiite-Sunni mistrust.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said the pair discussed..."the plots carried out by the enemies in order to divide the world of Islam."

"What good is our [Islamic world's] common cause if we waste our energies and resources on self-destruction rather than self-preservation?" asked an editorial in the Saudi Gazette newspaper. "Mr. President, your visit signals your best intentions." But Sunni-Shiite reconciliation will not be easy.

As Iran is seen to back its fellow Shiites – as well as Sunni Palestinian groups like Hamas – aspects of Wahhabism, the extremist salafi ideology embraced in Saudi Arabia, lead to conflict. "Wahhabis regard Shiites as heretics," says Bavand in Tehran. "Political necessity requires containment of this behavior. But the rise of militant Wahhabism is a sore point for Shiites." Indeed, visceral anti-Shiite preaching hasn't vanished from Saudi Arabia, where two clerics in January called Shiites "the most vicious enemy of Muslims."

By contrast, Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, delivered a warning in mid-January to a group of Sunni and Shiite clerics. He warned that "the colonial front" (meaning the US and Israel) was seeking to play up sectarian differences.
"The issue is not that Shiites and Sunnis should accept one another's beliefs, [but] they should not listen to the enemy's enticements," Ayatollah Khamenei said. "They should not be enemies."

3/04/2007 02:18:00 PM  

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