Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Although Richard Lugar may believes the war in Iraq is lost, reality, like the waves of the sea, is usually a little more complex. Pajamas Media has been following the troubles in Iran, the latest of which is apparently the rationing of gasoline, a matter that may be related to reports of gas stations being set alight. The incidents may not constitute an existential threat to the regime, but its a reminder that the enemy is also under stress.

Bill Roggio follows the offensive, one of several simultaneous and ongoing ones, in Anbar. It is codenamed "Fahrad Al Amin" or Operation Safety and Security. It is a Marine show.

The purpose of Fahrad Al Amin is to "make sure al Qaeda and the insurgents have no safe sanctuary where they can rest, refit, stage and plan for attacks," said Brig Gen Gurganus. "We want to keep any of ones we have in Al Anbar from getting to and being able to joint the fight in Baghdad."

What is the purpose of pre-empting al-Qaeda attempts to establish a new sanctuary? David Kilcullen explains in an article in the Small Wars Journal.

These operations are qualitatively different from what we have done before. Our concept is to knock over several insurgent safe havens simultaneously, in order to prevent terrorists relocating their infrastructure from one to another, and to create an operational synergy between what we're doing in Baghdad and what's happening outside. Unlike on previous occasions, we don't plan to leave these areas once they’re secured. These ops will run over months, and the key activity is to stand up viable local security forces in partnership with Iraqi Army and Police, as well as political and economic programs, to permanently secure them.

But in case you think this the main battle, and alright it will last several months, Dr. Kilcullen soon quashes that notion. We are just shaping the battlefield for the main fight ahead.

The really decisive activity will be police work, registration of the population and counterintelligence in these areas, to comb out the insurgent sleeper cells and political cells that have "gone quiet" as we moved in, but which will try to survive through the op and emerge later. This will take operational patience, and it will be intelligence-led, and Iraqi government-led. It will probably not make the news (the really important stuff rarely does) but it will be the truly decisive action.

The reader will probably have observed that the operational dictates of counterinsurgency warfare -- any counterinsurgency warfare, by the way, and not simply that undertaken by the Bush administration -- typically takes place on a time scale one or two orders of magnitude greater than the media cycle or Washington electoral politics. The horizons of the political system are marked in installments of two and four years. Those of the media are probably demarcated in months. And here is Kilcullen talking about shaping operations lasting months before the real battle begins. But that's because the strategic objectives of the US military in Iraq are actually political. Let Kilcullen explain.

When we speak of "clearing" an enemy safe haven, we are not talking about destroying the enemy in it; we are talking about rescuing the population in it from enemy intimidation. If we don't get every enemy cell in the initial operation, that's OK. The point of the operations is to lift the pall of fear from population groups that have been intimidated and exploited by terrorists to date, then win them over and work with them in partnership to clean out the cells that remain – as has happened in Al Anbar Province and can happen elsewhere in Iraq as well.

The "terrain" we are clearing is human terrain, not physical terrain. It is about marginalizing al Qa’ida, Shi’a extremist militias, and the other terrorist groups from the population they prey on. This is why claims that “80% of AQ leadership have fled” don’t overly disturb us: the aim is not to kill every last AQ leader, but rather to drive them off the population and keep them off, so that we can work with the community to prevent their return.

Kilcullen's assertions are all Counterinsurgency 101. There is nothing original in them. And when one considers that the roots of the radical Islamic movement go back decades, as described by Lawrence Wright in his book The Looming Tower one realizes that the one thing the War on Terror is, as explained from the beginning, is that it is a generational war. An evil prepared over a long span of years requires years to undo. Whether the President or his audience ever really believed those words or understood their full import is another thing.

Whether the message that the current crisis will take years to resolve shall ever be believed is yet another matter. There is a very strong streak of impatience in politics. The very difficult is expected to be accomplished in two years. The impossible may take a little longer. Fortunately, real problems defy media impatience and society eventually shifts mental gears to deal with it. This happened with the AIDs crisis. Perhaps some day it will happen in the confrontation with the networked global insurgency. In the first years of the AIDs crisis there was great impatience and desperates hopes among sufferers for a "cure" round the corner. Something out of Harvard or Johns Hopkins. Interferon, maybe. With the passage of years came the acceptance that there was probably no single forthcoming "cure" Yet this realization was tempered by the gradual realization that while AIDs defied -- and still defies -- a Silver Bullet solution, real and important victories were constantly being won against the disease. A drug here, a drug there. Little by little the fearsome epidemic, which some actually believed would destroy the human race in the early frantic years, became gradually less terrifying. Today there are hopes that AIDs may someday become a serious, but chronic disease. Something that can be managed like hypertension. AIDs still kills, but we have a handle on it; and it is not the end of the world.

David Kilcullen, in explaining operations in Iraq, seems to be mentally at that point already. He does not categorically say 'we are going to win'. He says 'we are making progress here' and 'things are working there'. He is encouraged without being certain. He sees the political and the lead bullets strike home and knows things are not hopeless; that the enemy, like us, are simply men. If they can be defeated individually and in groups they can be defeated collectively. They too are uncertain of victory, perhaps more than we should be and yet have not despaired of it. To their credit they fight on in doubt, sustained by necessity, faith or habit born of a desert patience against adversity. Whether the West can do the same is open to question. It is one thing to criticize current strategy and call for better, to shift more of the burden to Iraqis, to use all the "sources of national power". But it is another thing to say: we have lost. From this there is no redemption; victory can never be guaranteed. But defeat can. What will happen? All Kilcullen can offer in the end is the assessment, "time will tell." Indeed it will.


Blogger Original_Jeff said...

Richard Lugar's full speech is well worth reading. It is on his home page:

His basic point is that we need to begin planning NOW for the drawn down of U.S. forces and the final steady-state role of the U.S. with respect to Iraq.

6/27/2007 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Some of us have been saying that, for three years.

The situation has been in flux, but unchanged for that long. While support for the effort has dwindled, here on the homefront.

6/27/2007 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Flux Flux (flu^ks), n. L. fluxus, fr. fluere, fluxum, to
flow: cf.F. flux. See Fluent, and cf. 1st & 2d Floss,
Flush, n., 6.
1. The act of flowing; a continuous moving on or passing by,
as of a flowing stream; constant succession; change.
1913 Webster

6/27/2007 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Senator Lugar correctly says that key questions regarding the Iraq strategy have never been resolved. Such as which side of the sectarian divide which has emerged we are on. The operating premise, he argues, is that a democracy in the Middle East is possible, when perhaps it is not.

Although the Bush Administration has scaled back its definition of success in Iraq, we are continuing to pour our treasure and manpower into the narrow and uncertain pursuit of creating a stable, democratic, pluralist society in Iraq. This pursuit has been the focal point of the Bush Administration’s Middle East policy. Unfortunately, this objective is not one on which our future in the region can rest, especially when far more important goals related to Middle East security are languishing. I am not suggesting that what happens in Iraq is not important, but the Bush Administration must avoid becoming so quixotic in its attempt to achieve its optimum forecasts for Iraq that it misses other opportunities to protect our vital interests in the Middle East.

In Lugar's apparent view, the US has a security interest -- "preventing any part of Iraq from becoming a base for terrorism" -- and geopolotical -- "preventing Iranian domination of the region" -- which in the absence of a pluralist Iraq means exactly what?

Lugar understands that a "total withdrawal" would not serve American needs. But how this "total withdrawal" is to be prevented once a withdrawal under the present political climate is begun is an interesting question. Here's Lugar's argument in toto.

A total withdrawal from Iraq also fails to meet our security interests. Such a withdrawal would compound the risks of a wider regional conflict stimulated by Sunni-Shia tensions. It would also be a severe blow to U.S. credibility that would make nations in the region far less likely to cooperate with us on shared interests. It would increase the potential for armed conflict between Turkey and Kurdish forces in Iraq. It would expose Iraqis who have worked with us to retribution, increase the chances of destabilizing refugee flows, and undercut many economic and development projects currently underway in Iraq. It would also be a signal that the United States was abandoning efforts to prevent Iraqi territory from being used as a terrorist base.

Somewhere in the above a "taking of sides" is implied. It follows directly from Lugar's core argument that the Iraqi successor state to Saddam is not going to be multiethnic, because then the key question is what the dominant ethnic composition of that government is going to be. Or rather what, the US, which will not totally withdraw will allow or negotiate.

The Lugar speech is worthwhile reading in toto because you get the sense that neither side, either the administration or its critics, has really faced up to the implcations of what they are advocating.

6/27/2007 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yes, mike, Mr Webster understood the meaning of flux, in 1913. It's meaning remains the same.

The US policy in Iraq has been in flux, since Saddam took a powder.

Mr Bremmer, in '03 & '04 said, without equivication, that the days of the tribal dominence in Iraq were over. Today the US arms and supports those very tribes, in a move to stabilize the country. A de facto admission of defeat for the initial goals for Iraq by the US.

A poliocy in flux, but no change on the ground. The Iraqi government still does not control Ramadi, the tribal leaders do.

A failure of '03 and '04 war goals, to be sure.
Regardless, a policy in flux.
But Ramadi is still an anti Iraqi government insurgent stronghold, according to General Lynch.
He should know, aye?

Mr al-Sadr, once an enemy of the US, now a core supporter of the Iraqi government, which is also backed by US. With 33 Members of Parliment on the al-Sadr team. Flux personified.

What is unchanged, Iraq is still unsecured, last week or so the US military announcing that only 40% of Baghdad was secured, after four years of US occupation and responsibility for security.
Situation unchanged, but in flux.

A lot of movement, but going no where.

6/27/2007 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Some where over 375,000 Iraqi have been trained in the Iraqi Security Forces.

But still they are unable to secure their own country, or even hold parts of it once "cleared" by US troops.

A situation unchanged from the past, but the growth of the ISF, indicates flux. Another General announcing that it may take years more, before the Iraqi can patrol their own roads and cities, effectively.

While the ISF has steadily grown they are still inept.
Flux, but no change.

6/27/2007 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 06/27/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

6/27/2007 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Desert Rat,

All very good and ironical observations about Iraq, and there are yet more one could make. About our friends Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan and why it should be that Osama Bin Laden's most probable location is Pakistan funded by our friends the Saudis. Or we could wonder at how the Palestinian question has once again become the cornerstone of Middle Eastern peace despite the probability that has about as much prospect of become a unitary state as Iraq, or rather less so. Or about how we have to make concessions to Hamas, now the legal rulers of "Palestine", in the face of our obvious desire to limit the influence of Iran to protect our friends Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Oops. There we go again. The circle of absurdity closes. In Iraq, it's true. But elsewhere too.

6/27/2007 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

And most of these absurdities have to do with a single, central problem. We have no real "friends" in the region only interests. And like the British on Continental Europe three centuries ago, we will always be playing both ends against the Middle, supporting one side and then the other. In the course of containing Napoleon, Britain changed allies as the circumstances required. But then Britain was frankly imperial.

I think most Americans can't conceive of a world where your friend today is tomorrow's enemy. We tend to think of diplomatic friends the way we would human friends. These switches smack of a betrayal. But for empires, double-dealing was par for the course.

Yet, though I digress, secret agreements and institutionalized backstabbing did not save the Continent from the Great War. The reason those Empires which we so admire are all located in the past is because they killed each other like the dinosaurs.

But yeah, I agree. It seems like a helluva way to run railroad. The swirl of political alignments in Iraq is head-spinning.

6/27/2007 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

All, I think, because the US never identified the enemy.

Politics and diplomacy would allow for ever changing pulsations of interests.
But to describe Iraq as a "War", then not to prosecute it, effectively, has lost the support for the effort by the US public.

Describing the effort as a "new kind of war" does not pass muster with the majority. Seems to me.

6/27/2007 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Crazy Marzouq Redneck Muslim said...

The main point to be kept in mind is: It will take a long time. Such is the nature of COIN.

This point is not communicated well by the Bush administration or Pentagon. It is, however, communicated well on Blackfive articles and by Multinational forces Iraq. I am hopeful because this demonstrates delegation by the Pentagon/Administration. Bloggers are becoming more valuable in the war effort as well.

Milbloggers muzzled in theater still have opportunities to post after vetting by High Command in Theater. Info control may not be a bad thing in this case because it seems a more coordinated message is getting out. It is being picked up by bloggers and rapidly disseminated on the net.

The recent post election changes in the Pentagon and the Theator of Operations are good adjustments to me. It is resulting in less error.
Rumsfeld and Bremmer made some royal screwups, almost fatal errors. I believe the current SecDef, Theater Commander and Ground Force Commander are much better suited for the type of war this surge represents.

As for Iraqi Military and Police Forces, leadership development shall take another 5 years with officers coming through the ranks. Upgrading arms and infrastructure is underway and will take another 5 years. It aint easy, you know?

I have faith in the troops involved in this training effort, but there needs to be improvement in training those trainers as well. I think Rumsfeld was right when he said he wanted the Army to be more like Special Forces. He may have been alluding to Army S.F. whose forte is training indiginous forces a la Vietnam/Laos.

Again, I am more optimistic as this surge progresses. I am also optimistic about the events all over the ME, Africa, SE Asia. It is a lot to juggle. Most of it involves training of indiginous forces.

This is why I am praying so hard, conducting spiritual warfare.

Salaam eleikum, Allahu akbar!

And... I aint Rageboy. I am Marzouq the Redneck Muslim. I am a lover of love, hater of hate, seeker of truth. My warrior code is: Honor, Discipline, Integrity, Courage and Compassion. I am not a pacifist, I am a muhajideen fighting in the way of Allah! I am a holy warrior in life and cyberspace. I am a lover and defender of the United States Constitution because it is the closest working model of true Sharia.

6/27/2007 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

I'm glad that you filled me in on that DR. I had no idea that our troops are arriving in the dead of night to abduct people for dismemberment and return. I personally think that charging the victims families for the bullets used in the summary executions is an act of brilliance. You can read about the depression of the Iraqi people anywhere you go on the net and you're right to be depressed, all is lost. America is doomed.

Bremmer's goals haven't panned out that's for sure, but we haven't given up either so the initial failure has no bearing on the current effort. (I understand that you have given up.) But the time frame is far shorter than say, your war on poverty. (Assuming that you're a proponent of the same)

Now, who's your candidate, and will things start looking better when he/she's in office?

6/27/2007 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Enemy? Which party, which faction of which party can get this word out of their lips? We have prisoners claiming Geneva Conventions, but there is no declared enemy. At one point it was possible to speak of "state support for terrorism". That meant, in those Halcyon days, Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea. Remember when?

But what does an "enemy" mean today and how does one go about declaring -- what exactly? -- the word "war" along with the word enemy, has become shaded. Certainly much of the shading must be laid at the steps of the current administration. Who can quarrel with that. It is their watch. But which administration, faction or party would not have shaded the definitions even more?

Many are now arguing that the fundamental Bush mistake was to invoke such value-laden terms at all. What we have, I think Chairman Pelosi said, is a "situation". That's no surprise. Maybe the surprise is that for GWB, it was a "situation" too.

6/27/2007 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard --

Lugar can say what he wants, but the fundamental problem is we are faced with the collapse of all our institutions save the Military due to the feminization of the Western World.

The Legal System: terrorists are poor abused innocents and we must let them go.

The Media: terrorists are "freedom fighters" and we are the bad guys.

The Academy: we are "little Eichmans."

The Democratic Party: Let's surrender immediately in Iraq and Afghanistan to bin Laden and Iran.

The Republican Party: let's pretend Islam is a "Religion of Peace."

Osama looked over the West, and correctly saw a bunch of women and feminized men unable to muster any coherent response to his aggression. Bill Clinton, Les Aspin, and Madeline Albright didn't generate any more fear than GWB, Bob Gates, and Condi Rice do now.

6/27/2007 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Crazy Marzouq Redneck Muslim said...


Good analysis and assessment of the West. I'm confused as hell because of it. There are those with balls, though. They are the Coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I pray they succeed and return safely to breed! I pray once they reenter the civilian world, they teach.

Of course, the Educator's Union (NEA) must be destroyed but who better to do it than the new generation of teachers. What a fight that will be!

Salaam friend.

Yes... friends and allies who can last, like the anglosphere, the Coalition. That is our "tribe"!

6/27/2007 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/27/2007 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

No, mike, you misunderstand, I was here, advocating today's tactics, three years ago, when they stood a chance of success.

There is a systemic lack of seriousness to the US efforts in Iraq. This lack of seriousness is exemplified in the strategic policy of "Catch & Release".

This has been a continuing challenge for US troops, since '04, when we first saw it in Mr Yons' reports from the Four Duece.
The terrorist that shot Ltc Kurilla had been caught and released, after participating in a mess hall bombing, in Mosul.

Same problems that Bing West reported just two weeks or so ago.

The US has not increased detainee capacity, in Iraq, since '04, holding steady at around 40,000 detainees, same as '04.

6/27/2007 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Desert rat said...

"The US has not increased detainee capacity, in Iraq, since '04, holding steady at around 40,000 detainees, same as '04."

Presumably we should be running military tribunals, executing the worst of the detainees (non-Iraqi al Qaeda terrorists), keeping murderous Iraqi terrorists in prison (to be dealt with later by the Iraqi government) and releasing those found to be harmless or innocent. Would the MSM and moonbats permit the US government to execute al Qaeda terrorists. Somehow I suspect the answer is "no".

6/27/2007 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Well, eggplant, in Phoenix, AZ, during WWII, Germans were held, for the duration.

The individual sailors were not criminals, but were not returned to the general German population until the War was over.

Why should insurgent foot soldiers be released, in Iraq, before that war is over?

A member of insurgent terrorist cells that had bombed a US mess hall in Mosul, captured with weapons and explosives, was released aprox. 8 months after his initial capture, then shot Ltc Kurilla, after he had been released.

If Iraq were a real "War" the enemy would be detained until that "War" was over.

That the captured enemy are not held is just more evidence that what the US is engaged in, in Iraq, is not a war, but policing Iraq for a corrupt Iraqi justice system.

6/27/2007 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As Bing West described it.
50% of those captured are released within 18 hours.
The balance move up the US legal chain, with more (but % not specified) released at each stop along the way.
When the US military justice system has ascertained the positive guilt of the balance of the detainees they are brought before an Iraqi judge, who releases 50% of those brought before the court.

So, of the 600 or so detained by US troops in the past 2 weeks of offensive action, only 100 or so will be detained, long term.

As each of these 100 go to prison, a currently incarcerated detainee will be released, as there are not enough beds to maintain a growing population.
One in - one out.
Imprisoned, not for the duration, but for a little R&R, 3 hots and a cot.

6/27/2007 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Two things:

"We have difficult work to do in Iraq. ..... The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. And then we will leave — and we will leave behind a free Iraq. "

President Bush - May 1, 2003 on the deck of the USS Lincoln. He has always said this would be long, difficult and tough. Problem is no one wanted to listen his words of caution, and instead wanted to believe it would be quick, easy and painless.

Then this over at the StrategyPage:

Unreported Tragedies
June 27, 2007: One of the great tragedies of the Iraq war was how much it was politicized. A simple matter of ousting a tyrannical minority (the Sunni Arabs, who were 20 percent of the population) and allowing the entire population to form a democratic government, was twisted into a number of unfamiliar shapes to fit the political and media needs of many groups, foreign and domestic. But for those who were paying attention, you could follow the progress of the war, despite the misleading reporting and partisan rhetoric.

Added to the mix was the Western attitude that Arabs were not capable of handling democracy. There was certainly a lot of evidence to back that up. There were no functioning democracies in the Arab world in 2003. The sorry state of Arab governance had also produced economic and cultural backwardness. Despite all that oil wealth, the Arab world had made little progress in the last half century, and was still mired in poverty and ignorance. Even many Arabs were noticing. The initial purpose of al Qaeda was to rectify this situation by replacing the tyrants with a religious dictatorship. The tyrants proved too formidable for al Qaeda, which turned to attacks on Western targets (in the belief that it was the West that was keeping the Arab tyrants in power, when, in fact, Arab tyrants got most of their police state tutoring from the defunct Soviet Union).

The war in Iraq is basically the war against the Sunni Arab minority, who refuse to acknowledge defeat, and are using terror tactics to stimulate a civil war that would, as their fantasy goes, enable them to regain power. There was never any secret about this. The story of Saddam's "Plan B" made a brief appearance in the mass media right after Saddam fell. But that was the last you heard of it.

Throughout the world, many objected to the war, for emotional, political or financial grounds. This opposition could not cope with what the war was, but instead invented many alternative versions (Iraqi freedom fighters, al Qaeda on steroids, and so on). There was an al Qaeda component, which quickly united with their natural enemies, the Sunni Arab nationalists, to put the Sunni Arabs back in charge. Added to the mix was Shia Iran, eager to see Iraq turned into a Shia Islamic state. This was competing with the al Qaeda, which wants to establish a Sunni Islamic state. Many Iraqi Sunni Arabs liked the idea of a religious dictatorship, because the secular version (Saddam) had been a disaster, and democracy would put the Iraqi Shia (who make up 60 percent of the population) in power.

The strategy for such a war is simple, hold elections and get the elected government strong enough so that it can take care of itself without American troops. The media missed an obvious part of this story. That is the fact that the majority Shia and Kurds had been excluded from leadership positions in the military, police and government for decades. There were obvious reasons for this, but the present result was that loyal security forces required experienced Shia and Kurdish leaders, who had to be created from scratch. There were some Sunni officers and officials that could be trusted, but most were suspect. That's because of another problem you encounter in much of the Arab world; family and tribe count for more than national loyalty. This makes sense when you remember that there are no Arab governments that are "just and reliable" in the Western sense. The only institution the individual can depend on for help was the family and tribe. Thus you keep hearing about "Arab tribal leaders" getting involved in whatever is happening in Iraq.

At first, most of the Sunni tribal chiefs refused to participate in a democracy. This didn't get the media coverage it deserved, partly because it was becoming dangerous for Western journalists to operate in Iraq, and partly because most of the interpreters and free-lance Iraqi reporters hired by Western news organizations, were Iraqi Sunni Arabs (who were the most educated segment of the population, and most likely to speak English). Naturally, these Sunni Arabs would spin the news in their favor, and they did. If you knew anything about Iraq, you could pick this out. But most people didn't, and couldn't. As a result, reporting on Iraq veered off into fantasy land, where much of it still resides.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Iraq Sunni Arab fantasy that only they could, or should, rule Iraq, slowly fell apart. The Sunni Arab terror campaign, however, kept going, fueled by cash from Saddam backers in exile, and pro-Islamic organizations and individuals in the Middle East. The Sunni terrorists were formidable opponents, because they had many advantages. The Sunni Arabs were better educated, and had more people who had held positions in police and para-military organizations. In effect, the same thugs who terrorized the Iraqi people for Saddam, were now doing it again, in order to restore Saddam, or another Sunni Arab.

But as capable as the Sunni terrorist were, they found it was much easier to kill Iraqis, than it was to kill Americans. The terrorists quickly realized that the first order of business was to force the foreign troops out of Iraq. But the foreign troops were skilled professionals, and killing them was very difficult. In fact, many of the attacks on foreign troops, as with roadside bombs, ended up just killing Iraqis instead. Some 95 percent of the dead in Iraq were Iraqis, and most were Iraqis killed by Sunni Arab terrorists. The Iraqis noticed.

If the victims were the new Iraqi police or soldiers, than that was good as far as the terrorists were concerned. And many terrorist attacks were directed at the new police force and army. But then a strange thing happened, one that never got the attention it deserved. Despite all the terror attacks, people kept joining the police and army. While the cops were often corrupt, as they had always been, they were less corrupt than in the past, and they began to take back the streets. The big problem with the cops was the lack of experienced leadership. This was impossible because, under Saddam, Shia and Kurds could not have leadership positions in the security forces. But one could see how the future would develop by looking to northern Iraq. There, the Kurds had been free of Saddam since the early 1990s, when U.S. and British forces basically told Saddam to stay away, or else, and Saddam did. Left alone for a decade before 2003, the Kurds developed leadership for their security forces. The bumps along that road went largely unreported, but the end result was police and military units that were able to keep the terrorists out of northern Iraq. This began happening in other parts of Iraq. This was not news, except on a slow news day when it was OK to run a story on vacation sports and resorts in Iraq (they exist).

Meanwhile, down south, the war played out in a predictable fashion. The Sunni terrorists made themselves very unpopular with the Sunni Arab population. Three years ago, Sunni tribal chiefs began to turn against the terrorists. Two years ago, this had developed into open warfare between al Qaeda and some tribes. Starting a year ago, most of the tribal chiefs had abandoned the Sunni Arab dream of taking over again, and had sided with the government. The terrorists were losing, but no one outside Iraq was paying attention. Or, to put it more accurately, few journalists saw defeated terrorists as a story worth pursuing (for both personal and professional reasons).

Another angle largely ignored by the mass media was the battle against corruption. This shortage of honest officials (both civil and military) is one of the reasons the Arab world is in such a sorry state. Again, this goes back to the dependence on family and tribe. Even Iraqis who understand the need for honest and clean officials, are also under pressure to favor their family and tribe because, if this democracy doesn't work out, their only lifeline will be the tribe. This transition from tribal government, to national one, is not unique to the Middle East. It is playing out in other parts of the world, and most successful democracies had to pass through it in the past. Iraq will not be a victory until passage is made. The Arab world is watching. Iraq is test case, the model for an Arab future of success, and not more of the current tyranny and failure.

6/27/2007 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Desert rat said...

"in Phoenix, AZ, during WWII, Germans were held, for the duration. The individual sailors were not criminals, but were not returned to the general German population until the War was over."

Those German soldiers were innocent men serving their country. They were also captured while wearing military uniforms. Common decency required that they be treated humanely.

Members of al Qaeda are murderers who kill noncombatants for the purpose of creating terror. Terrorists are not soldiers and should not be treated like soldiers.

I must emphasize that I am confused by the death penalty. I'm not convinced that it is right for the state to have the legal power to kill prisoners. However captured al Qaeda terrorists are a bit like spent fuel rods from a nuclear reactor. Both are very dangerous and need to be disposed of safely and permanently.

6/27/2007 10:11:00 PM  

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