Saturday, April 21, 2007

Point, Counterpoint

In every military operation, the enemy gets the chance to cast the dissenting vote. The al-Qaeda counterstrategy against the sure is beginning to emerge in detail. Bill Roggio says, "Eleven major suicide bombings inside Baghdad over the past five days threaten to erode remaining political support for the Baghdad Security Plan. Now is the time for flexibility."


The failure of lasts year's security operations inside Baghdad occurred after Multinational Forces Iraq, then under the command of General George Casey, did not react to al Qaeda in Iraq's initiation of the sectarian war. General Casey also failed to reacted to the inability of the Iraqi Army units to deploy in to Baghdad and the corruption of the Baghdad police. General Casey had no desire to ramp up U.S. forces to deal with the shortfall – he wanted to use “the minimum amount of force possible” to defeat the insurgency.

General Petraeus does not suffer from these deficiencies. Last year's inability to redeploy Iraqi Army units have been resolved, and all Iraqi Army units have arrived into Baghdad as planned. The corrupt Iraqi National Police brigades were pulled off the line, taken apart, vetted and retrained. The U.S committed an additional five combat infantry brigades, a combat aviation brigade and supporting units to Baghdad and the outer belts. The rules of engagement were changed to give U.S. forces greater flexibility to fight the insurgency. U.S. forces are no longer operating from large bases and fighting a commuter insurgency, but instead are deploying into forward bases inside Baghdad's neighborhoods.

But Coalition and Iraqi forces must react to al Qaeda's bombing offensive, as time may not be on its side. As we've said from the very beginning, “U.S. and Iraqi forces must be flexible, and quickly react to as yet unseen surprises.” Now is the time to be flexible.

Read the whole thing. But note especially that both al-Qaeda and the Coalition are responding to each other. The US spent a lot of effort trying to establish an Iraq government. Al-Qaeda in Iraq responded by attempting to start a sectarian war. General Casey did not respond quickly enough, or did not have Iraqi units online able to react. Petreus has amended many of the deficiencies of the Casey era. But al-Qaeda in the meantime, has amended its tactics. Strategically the goals are still the same for both camps: sectarian warfare is the object of one; a stable government the goal of the other. Tactically both sides have evolved. Can General Petreus respond decisively to the new al-Qaeda attacks? Probably. But look to al-Qaeda to up the ante in blood even further.

11 Comments:

Blogger Tom_Holsinger said...

I disagree, Wretchard.

IMO Al Qaeda's objective is to terminate the American military presence in Iraq, and that means creating the maximum publicity in the U.S. media with their attacks.

If it isn't reported, they're not interested. Unreported sectarian warfare, i.e., overt Sunni removal, won't make the U.S. news.

So sectarian conflict per se is not their objective, nor is chaos. The objective is to get bad things reported in the U.S.

Right now that means big gory bombings. But they are running out of Sunni Arab areas to operate from.

4/21/2007 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Yes. The displacement of the US is their primary aim and the destruction of the hated apostate Shia a secondary goal. But the two reinforce each other.

If the mayhem can be continued, no matter whether Sunni or Shia are doing the dying, then domestic American support for the war will evaporate. Killing civilians drives out America. But looked at the other way driving out America will clear the way for the larger scale reprisals they have in mind because there are still many ex-Baathists and radical Sunni Islamists who believe they can reconquer the country once the US is gone. Some even believe they can re-suppress the Shi'ites with American help, if enough fear in Iran can be instilled in realist circles.

4/21/2007 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Tom_Holsinger said...

Wretchard,

The American media have paid remarkably little attention to ethnic cleansing of Iraqi's Sunni Arabs by Shiite and Kurdish death squads, and Shiite militias.

This is because their Sunni Arab stringers aren't there to record the bloodshed. All the connections of their Sunni Arab stringers are on the other side.

So killing civilians per se does not drive out America. Which means, given that the American media's stringers either are, work for or associate with, the Baathists and Al Qaeda, only murders of Shiites count, and then only in and around Baghdad. The Kurds are too hard a target.

Only bad things which are reported count. Air time is everything.

4/21/2007 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

One interesting item I read lately was that the U.S. was building a wall around a particular Sunni enclave in a predominately Shia area. Attacks on and by both sides could be better controlled that way. The long term consequences are something else. Might the two groups then say "Well, we sure do like this not getting killed, so let's knock this off." Or are we simply holding the lid on a pressure cooker? And if so, can a reasonably effective central government turn down the heat given the chance?

As for inciting sectarian violence, I think that Al Qaeda's only real hope for power is in a society that is so blasted and war torn that any other power structure has been destroyed. They are no good at building anything. They are an opportunistic virus that can only exploit a destroyed body politic; Afghanistan showed that. For the kind of society they wish to create destruction of all and sundry is not just a means to an end, it is the end itself.

4/21/2007 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Harry Signals His Feelings about the CIC

4/21/2007 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Miniter Meets Chalabi

He remains deeply critical of the CIA, which is one of the reasons he remains a controversial figure. He criticizes the American intelligence bureaucracy for failing to examine information that is offered to them by outsiders. First, they are not open to information that does not filter down through the bureaucracy. Second, he says, “They evaluate the source, not the information itself.”

This is a well-documented weakness of the CIA. The agency fails to realize that trusted sources can lie or mislead and even enemies can provide useful intelligence. The answer is to analyze the information itself, to test it for internal contradictions and see if it fits with other established reports. Yet somehow, six years after the 9-11 attacks, the agency seems unable to adapt.

Plus, the agency cannot forgive Chalabi for telling it the truth in 1996; its coup attempt against Saddam had been penetrated. His timely warning could have saved many lives. Instead, it was held against him.

While he talks, I think that Chalabi has won. He persuaded the most powerful nation on Earth to free his country. Now the exile is home. Once derided as an outsider with no Iraqi support, he has proved to be an adept political leader who regularly asked to resolve local conflicts. When he lost America’s favor, he became even stronger. Not yet ready to rest, he will be a force in Iraq for years to come.

It would be foolish and dangerous to make an enemy of him, like Sadr.

4/22/2007 01:59:00 AM  
Blogger Roman said...

Very odd to read about the oppressed Sunni and even more so glories of Chalabi who in fact has been as utter a failure in Iraq as anyone.

Has he been able to be elected by Iraqis to anything other than dogcatcher? It seems his vision of Iraq do not include his vision for himself holding significant reins of power.

As to Al Qaeda, they are not quite finished due to their Sunni hosts' estrangement. The recent bombings may not indicate their ability moving forward one way or another.

As to the American domestic audience, if polls are to be believed there is at best a severe split on winning and what winning means. In addition the media will continue to play its part pushing surrender without actually calling it that.

To me, that alliance, of the media and the Democratic spokesman like Reid, Pelosi and Murtha is the most fascinating doublethink I've seen of late.

To merely speak of a different "strategy" has in and of itself become the codeword for surrender. And the Democrat position: Surrender at all costs, no matter the cost.

Fortunately for the President, they are so craven, they can't vote to cut off the funding. At least not yet.

4/22/2007 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

The war is being lost here in America by people who act as if they believe that only Bush/Cheney/neocons/Republicans/whoever-else -they-consider-the-Other will lose.

4/22/2007 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger David said...

What is the role of Iraqi oil production in the surge strategy, if any?

I haven't heard much about that.

Couldn't dramatically increased oil revenues create a effective economic incentive for the main Iraqi factions to make a deal?

Money can't buy happiness but I think it can buy peace.

4/23/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Economic measures are not going to win in this war against suicidal, anti-human Al Qaeda.

Nihilism's got nothing on these guys.

Lucky for them, they have a friend in the NYT - that ran a first-page, above the fold, center of some poor hostage on his knees, - if they WERE trying to make America lose, WHAT would they do differently? - and right next to that, the NYT, as the lead headline on the left, a picture of a mass murderer....

Is the NYT America's friend, or foe?

4/23/2007 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Trent Telenko said...

Wretchard,

Baghdad without Sunnis means there will be no pictures of death of civilians on American TV because all the stringers the American networks use in Iraq are Sunni.

No American media pictures = American victory in Iraq.

That is why 60 Minutes and other American media new outlets are now reporting the emigration of middle class Sunnis (aka Ba'athists) from Baghdad, Iraq as "Defeat." They are trying to "move the goal posts" before thy lose their video.

Based on the rates of ethnic displacement reported from Strategypage.com, the Sunni population of Iraq will be at or less than 5% of the total Iraqi population by October 2007.

That is exactly the population percentage that Pres. Tudgeman of Croatia sought to make his country safe from an irredentist Serb minority.

Dunnigan has already reported that 1) Sunni Arab government are trying to get European and American governments to take displaced Iraqi Sunnis to avoid another Palestinian problem.

And 2) that the Baghdad suburbs are now the battleground as Sunni urban neighborhoods in Baghdad have been ethnically cleansed of so many Sunni that Al-Qaeda has no safe houses left there.

The Wall that that the Iraqi PM vetoed wasn't to "keep a united Iraq." It was to make sure Shia death squads still had access to Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad without going through American Army manned checkpoints.

4/23/2007 08:32:00 PM  

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