Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Crystal Ball

Stratfor has a theory about the way politics will work out in Iraq. And it goes like this. All of the local political forces have spent themselves and fractured themselves so badly that powerful foreign forces can essentially call the tune. Here's how they tell it:

Normally, when a country faces a rebellion against its prime minister, the formation of a de facto separatist government, the threat of invasion and resignation of its military chief -- simultaneously, no less -- Stratfor considers it a failed state. But Iraq is a bit of a different animal (and has been a failed state for years) so our assessment is different.

Believe it or not, all of this is actually good news. Iraq's future is not going to be settled by Iraq's various Sunni, Shiite or Kurdish factions unless outside actors choose to empower them (and even that would be no small task). The locals are all too weak, too fractured and too fratricidal to be able to establish internal control without a huge amount of outside help -- and this assessment extends to the "national" government of al-Maliki as well.

Uh-huh. This is plausible so far. That no single sectarian faction has the power to completely compel the others to its point of view is easy to believe. And consequently diplomacy in principle has a window of opportunity to impose a diktat on the exhausted parties. So far so good. But who's going to do the diktating? This is where Stratfor's analysis becomes interesting, because by their reckoning, the deal is being cooked up between Washington and Teheran. Stratfor continues:

Which means that if Iraq is to have a future, it will be determined either by the independent or collaborative actions of the major outside powers -- the United States and Iran. For the past five years those two states have been at odds over Iraq, but over the past several months fleeting clandestine negotiations have turned public and become substantial. Task lists have been drawn up and implemented, with benchmarks established to demonstrate trust and progress.

Among those tasks and benchmarks is achieving the buy-in of the various Iraqi factions -- by force if necessary -- with the Iranians responsible for the Shia and the Americans responsible for the Sunnis and Kurds. But not everyone likes what Tehran and Washington are cooking up -- and this leads to various, shall we say, objections. Some powers object by challenging the prime minister, others by threatening secession, yet others by backing Kurdish militants or interfering with military operations. The jihadists object by blowing up cheering soccer fans.

That would leave both the United States and Iran the joint victors and masters of post-Saddam Iraq. And the Sunnis, by comparison, the losers. Where does that leave the Saudi Arabia? Pretty much in the dust. And when guys get dusty, the normal practice is to mollify them with deals. One virtue of Stratfor's scenario is that it explains the generous arms package being offered to Saudi Arabia. That's the payoff to the Kingdom for the indignity of losing a Sunni-dominated state to their east. Stratfor goes on:

Chaos in Iraq is to be expected -- not because it is a failed state (although it is) but because everything is up in the air and a new political and military reality is being imposed by outsiders. Rebellion, violence, institutional failure and confusion are all natural byproducts.

Which means that "progress" -- such as it is in Iraq -- is now not only largely out of the hands of the Iraqis, but also largely outside of Iraq itself. The country's future no longer can be ascertained by reading the local smoke signals, but only by looking at the wider region. It is not so important that some southern Iraq Shia are threatening to break away, but it is critical that the United States is dumping a few tens of billion of dollars in weapons on the region's Sunni states in order to ensure their agreement in Iraq. It is now a side note that the Kurds might shelter Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels from Turkey, and far more critical that Washington might give Ankara a green light to invade northern Iraq to root out the PKK in order to demonstrate to Iran that the United States still has some cards to play.

Is everybody happy?

I have no way of knowing whether Stratfor's analysis is true apart from the plausibility of its internal narrative. But if this scenario were true, then it would describe a three-state solution with great power guarantees to keep the three from fighting after they are effectively set on separate roads. It would also be a reversal of Sykes-Picot. It would also be great power politics at its most cynical, because I can't imagine any solution emerging from this scenario in which Iran would not emerge a winner and Saudi Arabia and Syria, however disguised, would not emerge the losers. But that loss -- to the Sunni powers -- might be rationalized as payback for September 11 and their subsequent complicity in the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq. The United States would emerge in some respects stronger because all the other actors -- with the exception of Iran -- would, like the local actors in Iraq, have emerged the weaker. Best of all this is the kind of deal that is cynical enough for people in Washington to like.

Scenarios like this are always interesting, especially if one has no access to confidential information against which to judge it. However, with the storyline in mind, we can watch future events as they unfold to see whether or not what little birdie whispered was true.


Thinking about it some and cognizant of the fact that I am merely a layman offering an opinion on a theory, with the uncertainties thereby twice compounded, it strikes me that any such deal would be as hard to sell as an Immigration Amnesty Bill. It fixes some things but breaks too many others in the process. The first problem, one which is hardly touched upon in the Stratfor outline, is who gets to control the oil?. The second problem, and by the far the larger, is that political factions have spent so much time selling a different narrative these past four years that they will be hard-pressed to buy in on this kind of proposal. For example, I imagine that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be accused of "selling out" by their Wahabist, militant clergy, to the apostate Shia. The Republican base, having been sold on the idea of building democracy to the Middle East, might find it hard to swallow a deal between Teheran and Washington. And the Democrats are certain to shed tears at the drop of a hankie over something, though for what exactly, I have yet to imagine. But that's a small detail. It will happen. In short there will be an uproar everywhere. That's not to say that this kind of deal can't be sold, but it won't be an easy sell.


Blogger WKF said...

Partition with style. Worked for Malaysia - Singapore - Indonesia.

The US can always makes sure one of the 3 (Kurdistan) is a democracy
to mollify the democracy goal.

8/04/2007 05:04:00 AM  
Blogger Smitten Eagle said...

This all strikes me as similar to the Partitions of Poland back a few centuries. Austria, Prussia, and Russia all took their pieces. Polish politics disappeared...

...only to be re-awakened in the wake of the pan-European suicide knows as the First World War.

8/04/2007 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

MR. SNOW: The way out of Iraq is to have an Iraq that can sustain, govern, and defend itself, to be an ally in the war on terror and also an example to the region that democracy can succeed. So that is the way out.

Settling for anything less a US defeat, to spin it another way, revisionism.

The Stratfor scenario is another foreign policy defeat for US, Another one chaulked into the loser column, spun as a victory, at least success, when it is anything but.

Falling so far short of the Goals and promises of January 2002 that those very promises are spun down the memory hole.

an Iraq that can sustain, govern, and defend itself, to be an ally in the war on terror and also an example to the region that democracy can succeed.

Less than that, the US lost.
We defined the Goals, set the Mission and have, thus far, failed miserably. Beyond the dreams of either the wars foes or supporters.

The sands of time have about run out, the US military unable to come to grips with the enemy, wasting half a trillion dollars, botching a Liberation with a mismanaged Occupation.

This goes back to the proper use of military force, the US using it in Iraq in a way once decried as foolhardy, by Dick Cheney, in 1992. The Standard remains the same, though, even if Mr Cheney forgot about it.
Oh, just exchange "Bosnia" for "Iraq" and you'll get the message, loud and clear. 5x5

Before you commit U.S. forces, there are certain questions you need to be able to answer. You need an objective that you can define in military terms. Our military knows how to liberate a country, destroy a navy, take down an air force; those are militarily achievable objectives. But if you say, "Go in and stop the bloodshed in Bosnia," that's not sufficiently clear to build a mission around. Does that mean you're going to put a U.S. soldier between every Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Muslim?

A second requirement is to specify rules of engagement. The soldier or marine in the trenches needs ground rules -- what we call "rules of engagement" -- about how he is to achieve his mission. Whom does he shoot? How much force can he use, and under what circumstances? That's very difficult to define in this nebulous kind of civil war that's been raging in Bosnia. Who's the enemy? And how do you tell the good guys from the bad guys? Is this a three-sided conflict among Serb, Muslim, and Croat, or a two-sided conflict between Muslim and Serb? That's never been very well defined.

You also need to know what constitutes victory. How would you define it? How would you know when you had achieved it? And finally, how do you get out? What's the end game? How do you wrap it all up? And what's the cost in terms of American lives in that involvement? Nobody answered these questions with respect to Bosnia.

Is there any reason to expect that an age-old conflict based on animosities that go back for hundreds of years is going to be ameliorated or ended by the temporary presence of U.S. military force? I don't think so. And for all of those reasons, I was, and still am, very reluctant to see us rely on U.S. forces to solve Bosnia's problems. I am afraid we would have an ill-defined mission, we would take significant casualties, and would get involved without knowing how we were going to get out.

At least the Administration has defined Victory

an Iraq that can sustain, govern, and defend itself, to be an ally in the war on terror and also an example to the region that democracy can succeed.

Anything less, is defeat or revisionism.

8/04/2007 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Stupid is as stupid does.

What's wrong with militarily strong democratic Kurdistan, extending deep into Syria Turkey and Iran?

Seems that the maximalist and minimalist US goal in Iraq has always been defined as the same. 710. OIL was the only reason to befriend the Iranians of former Iraq. Of course these Iranians have been playing the US for 4 years now, and to the tune of hundreds of billions of US dollars. Money that could have been spend on up arming the Kurds and help relieve the Syrian Turkish and Iranian threats.

8/04/2007 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Mr.Atos said...

"All of the local political forces have spent themselves and fractured themselves so badly that powerful [external] forces can essentially call the tune."

One might argue, this is beginning to sound like the condition of the United States; mired in a state of functional paralysis with no clear mission, no common virtue, lacking esteem, with success never allowed... sadly unable to defend itself.

In the midst of that, fools and scoundrels seek perfection that cannot be attained, yielding failure as always inevitable, secretly begging for a diktat.

8/04/2007 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger jms said...

this is beginning to sound like the condition of the United States; mired in a state of functional paralysis with no clear mission, no common virtue, lacking esteem, with success never allowed... sadly unable to defend itself.

Actually, I would consider this to be the condition of the Democratic establishment, the Republican establishment, and the mainstream media, and the powerful external forces are the various facets of the blogosphere.

As for the general population of the United States, the fact that their approval and trust of those three institutions is dropping into the single digits is the best sign that the Republic will survive the self-destruction of all three institutions.

8/04/2007 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Isn't the Stratfor analysis overlooking one set of players? Iran is in charge of the Shiites, Americans in charge of the Sunni's and Kurds ... who's in charge of the terrorists?

If you still have an influx of deranged nutcakes flooding in from all over the Middle East intent on blowing shit up, beheading everything in sight and generally causing their patented Allah-given havoc, then won't that affect any political solution thunk up by Iran/DC?

I also recall reading somewhere in the last day or two that Saudi Arabia is planning on opening an embassy in Baghdad. On the one hand this could be because they're feeling "dusty" and left out, but couldn't it equally mean they want to be close enough to the action to affect events?

8/04/2007 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Stratfor's scenario evidently has us giving up on the nukes. Going to war with someone that you want help from in stabilizing a third party is hard to justify.

8/04/2007 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

That is a horrible idea, if it's true.

Should we agree to these zones of control, any tension between the US and Iran over anything, anything at all, will be channeled into Iraq and played out there by proxy. Worse, since the US will never be able to lose the stamp of ownership it's incurred by invading the country in the first place, and since the US more than Iran has stability as a vital interest in the Middle East (Iran gains from chaos and high oil prices), Iran will have a blackmail/extortion play that never gets old, a Sword of Damocles over our head on which the Iranian hand rests smugly for a generation or more. Bad Idea.

The only thing it buys us is an official split between the Sunni and Shia, a fault-line underwritten by great power politics. If you're looking for a Islamic Civil War, then you'll love that outcome. And note: there are persuasive realist arguments for stroking the divisions within Islam; it seems like a risky toss of the dice, to me -- the kind of risk that has "WWIV" at its margins.

8/04/2007 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

I understand the desire for a co-signer on Iraq. But when the co-signor has an incentive to make you default on your payments, has an incentive to ruin your credit -- that is not an ideal partner in peace.

8/04/2007 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Fear the Iranian nukes.

8/04/2007 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

How come everyone who talks about the partition of Iraq never quotes Iraqis?

The proposal to turn the three Iraqi communities over to abusive Foster Parents from the UN may well focus their minds on the alternatives. Three small states would be prey to their neighbors. In the end, they'd rather deal with each other than the crooks that surround them.

Reaching agreements that neither side intends to abide by, just to impress the West and get aid, happens all the time. Perhaps the Iraqis are having a hard time reaching agreements becuase they want the agreements to mean something: Not your basic "Arafat Accord" where you give him money while he tries to kill you.

To agree the Iraqi Politicians must show that they can control the violence that comes from their side directed at the other. To that end the Sunni's offer up AQI and the Shia the "Rogue Mahdi Army." Meanwhile they have to show a hard face to each other to keep the ordinary folk (who their leaders have stirred up) that they are not rolling over.

If the "AQI/Death Squad" swap shows that each side can and will control the "Angry Young Men," then come September they may well ink a deal on, say, oil revenue sharing or local elections.

September's Tet offensive may be political--if all sides accept the military down payment and want to Keep the US there for a few more years (which makes sense for most Iraqis).

8/04/2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Nightstudies said...

I got stratfor for a while.

Run by former spook? Well what they write is the intelligence version of a gossip column, at least that's what it feels like. And they go off the rails to make everything sound juicy. Everything they write is full of rationalizations - drastically simplified by the patently false assumption that everyone is rational and working for their own best interests.

8/04/2007 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Wretchard wrote:

It would also be great power politics at its most cynical, because I can't imagine any solution emerging from this scenario in which . . .

Wretchard, you've long castigated the "realists" for their cynical perspectives and strategies as well as for backing dictators to advance Anerica's national interests; and yet you know find yourself asking "who's going to do the diktating?" Well, if you find Strafor's scenario too pessimistic, why don't you do a litte research among Iraq's dominant Islamist parties and come up with your own candidates? Certainly, if you've any hope for a democratic Iraq, you can pin those dreams (however vague) on some Iraqi leader or party, right?

Give it some time, it should be a valuable exercise . . . and at this present rate, I give you 3-5 years before you evolve into a realist yourself.

Thinking about it some . . . it strikes me that any such deal would be as hard to sell as an Immigration Amnesty Bill.

Well, what other options are available? This blog used to rail against the Nazi-like nihilism and inhuman viciousness of the Sunni insurgents, but now Sunni groups like the utterly despicable 1920 Brigades are our mutually suspicious allies, despite killing over hundreds of Americans. You and many others were sold on the wisdom of this "Surge" tactic without much protest, so why complain now about a possible deal with Shiite Islamists?

Again we get to the point that I've been emphasizing since before the war: we've no hope for consolidating any gains (let alone victory) without a strong alliance with a sizable and efficient political and social base. War supporters have been dismissing this central problem away with fantasies about Chalabi, or simply ignoring it, since 2002.

8/04/2007 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...


Talk Radio Hosts had some "off the record" quality time with the President. They described him as quite up beat.

Is that because he just gave away Iraq to Iran (golly, glad that's over with!) or because he sees it all finally coming together? We should know in a few more months.

8/04/2007 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/04/2007 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

The tides of war are shifting in favor of the USA. Meanwhile back at home More Extreme Juggling

8/04/2007 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"Is everybody happy?"

Took until your update to get a mention of the oil. Watch the oil...VERY closely.

8/04/2007 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Well, once we really decided to do the job things have started going in our direction. Why should we leave? It seems to me that we are making more and more friends among the Iraqis. War has taken a toll on that good opinion, but our enemy there has given it back to us by their barbaric behavior. Not to mention, the American cash flowing into Iraq has to look pretty good to the average Iraqi businessman.

I'm sure somebody said the same to Truman. Sure it's a stalemate, but why don't we just stay until the Soviets decide to give it up and go home? We have to keep our troops somewhere. Germany is just as good as New Jersey. How hard can it be?

Why should we give an inch to Iran? Their going to be just like North Korea before long -- dirt poor lunatics with a single ace to play.

It all comes down to domestic opinion, which needs to be treated as a front in this war. Bush has not been good at combatting that problem at all.

8/04/2007 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Wretchard - it's very unlikely that the Saudi part of this deal is confined simply to arms supplies? If the analysis is true (and it has the ring) then the Saudi/Iraq Arab Sunnis must also be being given guarantees of their future survival? Over the whole period of the occupation the US has consistently worked to ensure the Sunnis preserve a viable powerbase, when it could have just armed the Shiites and let them rip on the 20% minority.

In my view the genius of installing the proportional representative voting system in Iraq was that, when approaching the end game, all players inside and out would have to conclude that supporting federalism and the power sharing constitution served their individal interests better than any other solution.

The other aspect not mentioned here is the real ticking clock, which is not the Iraq/versus the Washington frame everybody talks about, but the US/Iran deadline beyond which Iran either comes to the party or gets a massive aerial attack on its infrastructures. Figure that out and I reckon you get an idea of the deadline all the players are aware Bush and Rice have been working towards.

8/04/2007 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

The timeline on Iran will be one of two things: (1) if they manage to test something demonstrably nuclear, or (2) when Bush leaves office. I can't believe Bush will allow a new President to be sworn in and leaving Iran still tap-dancing its nuclear tap dance in the Middle East. And if they shoot off a test, I can't believe Israel will sit still for it.

Iran is not an ally. At best it's a higher ranking piece in a global chess game - maybe a bishop. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are not allies, either - one a rook and one a knight.

The only ally we have in the Middle East is Israel, and Stratfor doesn't seem to have factored the Jews into their divide & conquer theory.

8/04/2007 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Desert Rat - At least the Administration has defined Victory

an Iraq that can sustain, govern, and defend itself, to be an ally in the war on terror and also an example to the region that democracy can succeed.

Anything less, is defeat or revisionism

Not really, Rat. You of course are quite aware of the cliche that no plan survives 1st contact with the enemy. In this case, our plan didn't even account for the fact that the Sunni Arab civilians were the enemy, a huge number of Shiites also were the enemy because they saw us as the enemy. And our Plan was blind to that and we flailed for years with Bush's "noble-purple fingered democratic freedom-lovers" nonsense when the reality of a nation of 3 peoples that hated Israel, secularlism, and had 1st and only loyalties to their tribe and it's religious views was obvious.

That said, you have to weigh failure with final outcome. If it is an Iraq riven by civil war, dominated by Iran, it is a colossal Bush/neocon failure putting them at Jimmy Carter, even Warren Harding levels of disgrace.

If Iraq remains a place where American business is shunned in favor of Chinese, Euro, Russian competitors - where any American is killed or kidnapped on sight in Sunni or Shiite areas for the next 50 years - it is the same equivalent of failure.

An undemocratic or quasi democratic Iraq, cleansed of people that destabilize regions, headed by authoritarians, still hating Israel is a partial victory if they work with us, keep terrorists out, and don't give America any trouble or make our citizens visiting there unsafe.

Remember that stupid statements made at the beginning of a conflict do not define the terms of victory or defeat at the end.

WWII terms of victory, the Crusade for Liberation Europe, ended with 1/3rd of Europe unliberated under Soviet bootheels.

It was still "good enough" to count as victory. Lincoln defined victory against the rebels as a short war, concluded with light casualties, the slaves still slaves, and a merciful, successful Reconstruction. None of that happened as forecast.

Still a victory...

Though I think the odds favor defeat in that 10 years after we leave Iraq, both Americans and Iraqis will see the war as a disastrous American fuckup launched by a neocon cabal without a clue..without a postwar plan.And a bad failure of democracy as idiot politicians of tribes and parties with scores to settle were "enabled" by democracy to piss away opportunity after opportunity as democracy paralyzed any progress, to foul the country up even more and let evil triumph...

8/04/2007 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Ahh, but C4 that quote from Mr Snow, is telling, he was not speaking for Mr Bush in the beginning. That quote is from December '06, and not repudiated by anyone in the Administartion.

No, the Bush 43 Team has set their sights on their goal, nothing will keep them from it.

It is just humorous to see the past revised, blaming Democrats and MSM for the lack of "bottom up" democracy, when it was the US military that ground that budding plant into the ground. Not much approving of those to be elected.

28 June 2003, the day that the US lost Iraq, by falling short of our principles, in the pursuit of building a perfect bridge to the Religion of Peace.

8/04/2007 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Nahncee - The only ally we have in the Middle East is Israel, and Stratfor doesn't seem to have factored the Jews into their divide & conquer theory.

Israel is not an ally.
It is our "special" burden.
It is totally dependent on us for survival of its ability to get strategic goods and buy or influence off or intimidate off it's powerful, hostile neighbors.

It has trouble holding it's own against Hezbollah, is tied up with a Palestinian population that hates them with deep passion. It is no threat to strike Iran in any meaningful way other than a preemptive nuclear 1st strike which would just trigger a global embargo and global Jihad against it for the millions of Iranians it would have butchered in such a 1st strike.

When Bush leaves office. I can't believe Bush will allow a new President to be sworn in and leaving Iran still tap-dancing its nuclear tap dance in the Middle East.

As things stand, Congress and the American people have such little faith in his judgement they will not permit him to launch a major, preemptive war without allies, UN Security Council deliberations, and a Congrssional AUF under Congress's War Powers role.
Nor does the military trust him, or the criminal and professional consequences Congress would visit on the officers, if they were to simply salute and say "yassir" to a massive preemptive attack that would spread into regional or global war. They would foot-drag and notify Congress that Bush wants to start a major ME war, get ready to resume the Draft, and we are in a 2-day prep period.

The consequences would be emergency impeachment proceedings for both Bush and Cheney. And if Bush got any nukes off or managed to start it befor Congress could intervene, shipping his impeached ass and those of his advisors in on it, off the the Hague for war crimes trials.

The best thing Israel can do for us and the Western world is just hunker down, shut up, and avoid provocations..

8/04/2007 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger jjvors61614 said...

Wretchard, I think the Stratfor analysis is total hooey. There is no possibility that President Bush would assent to that, nor trust, nor deal with the Irani government. I think this reflects wishful thinking by someone who does not want the US to succeed in Iraq.

Although the Kurds, Sunnis and Shia are all religious, none of them want a religious government controlled by one of the others. Therefore, they'll settle for secular government. This is what they currently have, this what they had under Saddam for 25 years. Don't raise the spectre of an Iraqi religious state--it won't happen.

What about the possibility of US victory? The eradication of al-Qaeda as terrorist provocateurs in the whole country, as they have been eradicated from Ramadi? In a war of attrition, as the war on terror is, the US can win. The US people just want demonstrable success.

8/04/2007 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger BrianFH said...

Once again Cedarford runs off the rails and heads for the swamps. Generalization piled on opinion leading to wild-eyed prognostication.

Stratfor seems addicted to realpolitik scenarios; but in this case, I think it's fairly clear that no enduring deal can be done with Iran because there's no there there. The mullahs are on borrowed time, and pretty much all the major players can see their collapse coming. No need to treat them like more than the theo-tyrants they are.

8/04/2007 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...


Your scenario concerning Iran is a complete sham. All Israel need do is eliminate Iran's oil refining capacity with half a dozen Israeli developed and produced long range missiles and that whole Iranian haus of shite falls down. It is only out of special consideration to the US that this has not been done yet. The same special consideration that keeps the Jihadis in and around Israel from what's coming to them and sharing in the fate of the Amalekites.

8/04/2007 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger lescoulee said...

First post, long time lurker.

I'm a complete noob at this, but here's my take.

I think W is handing the Iranians chocolate-flavored styrofoam to eat. They have nothing to offer Iraqi Shia other than religious sympathy and money for guerrilla operations. I think the Iraqi Shia are more interested in making their own money than having it handed to them by Iran, and whatever nationalism they have will lean them more to siding with the US (who by all appearances finally paid their debt for leaving them in the lurch in '91 by liberating the country) and working with the Kurds to dominate Iraq. The Iraqi Sunni have to see a partnership with the US and other Sunni support as better than being driven from the country entirely. The Kurds have to side with the US or take on the Turks, the Shia and the Sunni by themselves. The US will continue to throw money at the problem (even with a Dem in the White House) because the US, given the choice, will ALWAYS throw money at a problem rather than lose troops. My humble prediction is that if Iran is actively working to interrupt the flow oil by fanatical proxies, that plan will drive the Iraqi Shia closer to the US. I see time on the US side as Iraq gradually gains cohesiveness through business and shared pain. I don't see Iraq becoming a vassal state for the US, but I see it more closely aligned to the US/Britain than the Sunni countries or Iran (who have virtually no carrot to offer Iraq, but lots of "stick").

8/04/2007 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard -- That may be the Bush intention, some sort of "deal" which appeals to his top-down way of doing things, but it's unlikely to survive for long.

Iran has competing power bases, and you can't go wrong in Iran with Jihad and sticking it to the Americans. NO DEAL AT ANY TIME with the Iranians has survived long, for this simple reason. There is too much power to be gained by double crossing the Americans.

There will always be a loser in Iraq who will come calling for help from a protector, very likely Saudi.

Dems will be sure to object to it simply because it's Bush's deal. Reps will not like any deal with the Iranians as will most Americans who wisely view the Iranians as the enemy.

This deal simply can't work because too many parties have a vested interest in torpedoing it and also have the means.

C4 -- your assertion that the American public will not stand for GWB or any other President taking steps to prevent Iran from nuking us is laughable. Of course the American public understands Iran is our enemy, wants to nuke us, and will as soon as the possibly can. But they want some prospect of success. You are right that there is no support for nation building, but even less for hunker down, surrender, and beg the enemy not hit us.

More than thirty years of Muslim terror against the West have made Americans very certain that Muslims are our enemy, without exception. Any prospective action against Iran will be viewed as payback for decades of provocation (and US weakness) but will also be evaluated on the basis of likely success.

An air campaign aimed at power and transmission (hard to make nuke weapons without it) could be very effective. The idea of "sovereignty" is laughable in today's politics, even Obama is calling for ignoring it with Pakistan.

But what is certain is that America's populace (as opposed to it's elites) is not in the mood for simply surrendering and begging the enemy not to hit us.

8/04/2007 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Fen said...

An undemocratic or quasi democratic Iraq, cleansed of people that destabilize regions, headed by authoritarians, still hating Israel is a partial victory if they work with us, keep terrorists out, and don't give America any trouble or make our citizens visiting there unsafe.

Kinda like Saudi Arabia.

And how many OBLs will another US-sponsored authoritarian
regime create?

8/04/2007 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger davod said...

Regardless of the report, Condi (and Bush for that matter) is taking her direction from the Baker group and hacks at State.

All semblance of reason has departed in the lust for peace, any peace.

The opposition in Iran has been thrown to the wolves. The opposition in Syria likewise.

We are back to dealling at any price with the very people we should be trying to depose.

This looks just like the aftermath Gulf War 1, and if you can bear to go a bit further back, the lead up to WWII. Pecae at all costs. Peace in our time.

8/05/2007 12:50:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...


"Partition with style. Worked for Malaysia - Singapore - Indonesia."

What does this have to do with anything.

Singapore is an island which separated from the Malaysian Federation.

Indonesia was nothing to do with Malasia.

8/05/2007 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

Sorry for the multiple posts, but after reading "All The News That's Fit to Print" it srikes me that State will,intentionally or otherwise, subvert any gains in the military position in Iraq.

The military, and for all I know the spooks, are getting a handle on the Iranian problem and are fighting back. We need these Iranians and their Iraqi friends to keep crossing over from Iran so they can be intercepted and killed (that's what you do air support).

The result of any interim agreement with the Iranians will surely result in the Iranians saying they will stop doing what they do and the coalition forces being told to stop interdicting those crossing the border.

8/05/2007 01:25:00 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I'm beginning to think that instead of Israel "taking care" of the Iranian nuclear program, the State dept. is negotiating for Iran to "take care" of Israel.

8/05/2007 04:53:00 AM  
Blogger R said...

What I like about all these posts on this subject matter is that, for me, they all point to our government, in that when one goes to war, the daily game changes, or is supposed to change, to one of survival and winning.

From my perspective, this Congress and this Administration have abandoned their individual and collective responsibilities toward us, the citizens of America.

Responsibilities that demand we be informed to the extent we support our Country's efforts, that we rally around our troops, that we work in defending our principles, our land, our families, our very way of life.

To do this, I suggest we need responsible leaders, and quite frankly, I think what we have discovered is that our leaders are in fact very limited in such skills.

The Captain of the ship knows that when the big storm hits his sailing waters, wherein he needs to survive, it will depend more on the crew than the overall design of the ship. Team effort is the glue for survival.

We have elected clowns, mostly lawyers who don't know or don't want to know the world of "active aggressive" behaviors, only "passive aggressive" manners derived from years of taking both sides of every issue, sharpening skills to argue any word, such as "is" or "rights" or any thoughts that come before them.

It is a world of narcissistic choices, where the "I" leads every thought, even when hidden within a religious pronouncement. While every mass movement has its set of quasi, pseudo, even real intellectuals at the kitchen table, nature always dictates the use and application of muscle for victory, control, and maintenance. Structure exists everywhere. Compression and tension.

The lawyer's muscle rests within his or her lips only. Warriors of the dictionary. Osama comes to us from wealth, not Yale's law school. He carries a rifle and shoots it.

Our lawyer-wordwarriors expect others to carry rifles, to die for them, to protect their words, to carry forth their rights. They also have puppets working for them: Try Nancy Pelosi for one. Harry Reid for another, even Scooter Libby!

I've said this before: Plato had these people figured out, especially when dealing with the narcissist; which one might argue has encompassed an entire generation (mine), to a dominance not experienced in decades.

We have offered liberty to over 50 million people! Sure, we did this to protect our country and those who are our friends, but we do this not to subjugate others, but to liberate them; hoping they will choose to join our side in thinking a democracy is better than a dictatorship.

Five years and still no victory. Why? We fight Gitmo detainee's nauseum. Abu Garib is more important than suicide bombers who randomly and wantonly kill women, children, everything they can.

We can't even call this "religion of peace" what it is!

Hell, we can't even tell the American public that these dictators are the ones who feed the billions upon billions of dollars to the religious leaders so that they stay in power! These religious leaders who then order their spiritual slaves to kill us and our allies, for their love of power!

We need leaders with guts to win, especially if we see ourselves in a war, a real war.

I do see us in a real war. I vote. I need others to see this for a war and vote for leaders that know there is no substitute for victory.

Peace is our goal, then prosperity. This planet is our home, but some of the neighbors insist on living the master/slave way: This is not what free men and women seek.

We are supposed to be free women and men. Freedom always has responsibilities.

8/05/2007 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger patrick neid said...

I think Stratfor was just "mailing it in" to make a deadline.

We will continue to do a lot of stupid things in this war on terror, that being the nature of war, but getting into bed with Iran and the mullahs is not going to be one of them. Unless of course we finally get the stones to get them in one room at a signing and cruise missile them. Sadly I don't think we will be doing that either.

8/05/2007 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

R, my eighteen son (about to enlist and join the fight) wishes that his soon to be CiC was his favorite President, Andrew Jackson. Primarily because he knows Old Hickory would bring the fight to our enemies, and would prosecute that fight without regard to the PC crowd.

"Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms."

But as I tell my son, I doubt that he could be elected in this day and age. Sad to think.

8/05/2007 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

There are more important things than peace.

Every time I hear someone proclaiming, "Peace at any price, above all else," it makes me think that what they are really proposing is stick-in-the-mud stability. You'll notice that the 22 countries of the Middle East are the ones who most often yammer on and on about peace, because the leaders there are scared to death of change.

Yurp I can understand because they're all so traumatizd by WW1 and WW2 they can't bear the thought of war and destruction again, but would rather be locked up in their cages of "peaceful" stability ... while all around them their Muslims are plotting to blow them up.

I hate it when I see Americans starting to parrot the "peace above all else" mantra. If ever a country was founded on issues that are more important than peace, it is us. I'm surprised that Americans outside of the looney left can't see that.

8/05/2007 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


You're onto a topic I could jawbone with you for hours -- our irresponsible and immature lawyerly elite, amoral dissemblers steeped in conflict resolution fantasies, with little understanding of the world beneath civilization's thin veneer.

And lest I be accused of sniping from the bleacher seats, I accept responsibility for acting as if all that our forebearers bequeathed us is the default mode of human organization. My generation's negligence has allowed the West's political space to be overrun by operators, ideologues and C-students.

Nothing like Kim Jong Il or Jihadists exists in their experience set. Open borders are an abstraction. Same goes for commitments made with other people's lives and money.

You're right. Plato had these guys nailed.

8/05/2007 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Oh come on. Not all the lawyers are bad asses. The two I know both want to bomb Iran silly.

8/05/2007 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...


But wouldn't wanting to bomb Iran silly necessarily make one a total bad ass? :D

8/05/2007 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"From my perspective, this Congress and this Administration have abandoned their individual and collective responsibilities toward us, the citizens of America."

Congress and the Administration are 5000 people, maybe. Beyond Congress' legislative capacity, those 5,000 people affect the rest of us in a strategic manner, at most. It's the other 15+ million bureaucrats at the federal,state and local levels who are killing us. We need to understand that their never ending first duty is to themselves. There is no check or balance on or to them. There is no way to make them responsible. We will die in their supra-government.

8/05/2007 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

All depending upon one's point of view, Mat:)

8/05/2007 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

I donno, Bob. Some truths I hold to be self-evident. ;)

8/05/2007 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Bob, sorry for being somewhat abtush..

"Invisible principles must first be believed in before reason can become a voice for their cause." -Skarbutts

8/05/2007 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 08/05/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day…so check back often. This is a weekend edition so updates are as time and family permits.

8/05/2007 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Wretchard: The first problem, one which is hardly touched upon in the Stratfor outline, is who gets to control the oil?.

In parallel to this, who get's control of the Iraqi Army? They might not be the best in the world, but they are still the third best (after US & UK) force in country. Post withdrawl whomever captures its loyalty is in charge, no matter what deal the US/Iranians/Sauds get set up.

In the absence of a central govt the army will likely fragment along ethic lines. However if it does not fragment the army (either loyal to a central govt or to itself) is the preeminent power in Iraq and chooses the new structure.

Stratfor wrongly dismisses the federal Iraq as being too weak, assuming that it will break up when it has not as yet done so. And though this is weak in relation to America, it is not apparent that Iran or Syria or Saudi could feel safe from reprecussions if an aggressive Iraq reacted to intrusion.

8/05/2007 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger ricpic said...

When we pull out is it not inevitable that an Iranian-Syrian pincer movement will take Baghdad and therefor take control of the entity, call it what you will, that was once Iraq?

8/05/2007 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

If Iran and Syria want to pincer Iraq, what will that get them? A bankrupt petty murderous little sandpile that can't even keep their electricty going to run their air conditioning. Let alone refine and sell their oil.

As long as they leave the Kurds alone, I don't much care if Syria, Iran *or* Saudia Arabia moves in and tries to tame Iraq. Serves 'em right, along the lines of "be careful what you wish for -- that American occupiers would leave -- because you just might get it."

At least we can be pretty damned certain that there are no WMD readily accessible.

8/05/2007 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger littletim said...

The facts do not support Stratfor's analysis. AP reports today:

BAGHDAD - Rogue Shiite militiamen with Iranian weapons and training launched three-quarters of the attacks that killed or wounded American forces last month in Baghdad, stepping into the void left as Sunni insurgents have been dislodged, a top U.S commander said Sunday.

It's hard to imagine that "rogue militiamen" with Iranian weapons and training are acting with complete independence from Iran. It is far more likely that Iran seeks a high level of general mayhem, with the aim of providing the Democrats with the fodder they need to force a withdrawal of America from Iraq.

8/05/2007 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger BrianFH said...

Yeah, "rogue" my granny's fanny. That's just cover for Mookie to pretend he's not trying to undercut the government and MNF every day in every way. And it's been picked up almost as though it were a mandatory PC adjective!

J-DAM the JAM.

8/05/2007 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Well, at least Mat and I want to cut throw all this fir and bomb Iran, for our safety.

8/06/2007 02:03:00 AM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

cut through

8/06/2007 02:05:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

jcfur,not fir???

8/06/2007 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

The one thing Stratfor fails to produce is any evidence of US-Iranian negotiations or any sign of them actually working towards a common goal. Without that, the whole speculation is bogus.

8/06/2007 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...


"In my view the genius of installing the proportional representative voting system in Iraq was that, when approaching the end game, all players inside and out would have to conclude that supporting federalism and the power sharing constitution served their individal interests better than any other solution."

PR is widely acknowledged to be an intrument of political stability... in Italy, for instance, which had something like 150 different governments until they finally decided to dump PR.

The problem with the Iraqi electoral system, however, isn't so much that it's PR, as that it's nationwide, rather than constituency-based. Instead of voting for local people that you might have some chance of knowing something about, you vote for a nationwide "slate" that broadly represents factions.

All of this exacerbates whatever tendencies toward factionalism already exist in the country--which include, besides those well known class, ethnic, religious, and cultural divisions, proportional representation.

8/07/2007 06:56:00 AM  

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