Westhawk on Iraqi Strategy
Westhawk tries to understand the new US strategy in Iraq from its effects. "Over the past several months it has become clear that the U.S. has become much more interested in a 'bottom up' political and military strategy in Iraq. ... The good news is that the Americans have finally found a technique that allows them to find and get at the al Qaeda cells in Iraq. The bad news is that the Shi’ite and Kurdish majority in Iraq, more than 80% of the population, doesn’t like what the Americans are now doing."
And the objection is simple. "They are trusting terrorists," said Ali al-Adeeb, a prominent Shiite lawmaker who was among many to question the loyalty of the Sunni groups. "They are trusting people who have previously attacked American forces and innocent people. They are trusting people who are loyal to the regime of Saddam Hussein." As noted in previous posts, the problem with empowering communities is that you descrease the relative power of the Central State. Westhawk very perceptively understands that the factors underpinning American tactical success are creating strategic problems further down the track.
Westhawk identifies two issues that have never been conclusively resolved since the beginning of the conflict. a) Will the US join the Shi'ite and Kurds in routing the Sunnis from Iraq? or b) Is America committed to a unitary, multiethnic Iraq which would imply creating a balance of terror among the rival communities.
The Sunni insurgency, by partnering with Iran and al-Qaeda have made the defeat of the terror coalition the number one priority, behind which the future architecture of Iraq comes a distant second. Right now, the US is interested in cleaning al-Qaeda's clock. What happens next is contingent. Quite properly the US is making it up as it goes along. The situation has changed from the beginning of OIF after which America's enemies not only called, but upped the ante. And it will change again, not just in Iraq but throughout the region. Whether for the better or worse only time will tell.