Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Phase change

DJ Elliot points out this 61-page report to Congress, prepared in connection with the DOD Appropriations Act of 2007 entitled "Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq". The report describes in detail what the economic, political and security situation is in Iraq today and in particular what the what the rebuilt Iraqi Security Forces will look like.

According to the report, "the strategic goal of the United States in Iraq remains a unified, democratic and federal Iraq that can govern, defend and sustain itself and is an ally in the war on terror." It will be interesting to see whether the goal of establishing a stable, democratic, country allied with the United States will automatically imply a permanently hostile presence to theocratic Iran and other dictatorial forces in the region in the manner of Germany versus the Eastern Block or South Korea versus North Korea during the Cold War.

Achieving this strategic goal is still a long way off. The key finding in its executive summary is that "the numerous 'tribal awakening' movements and the CLC program are making progress at the local level, but challenges remain at the national level. The key to long-term success will be the GoI’s ability to capitalize upon local gains, pass key legislation and promote national reconciliation." That's to say, the overall fate of the American effort now depends on whether the Iraqi people and leaders can be persuaded to ratify the events of the last years.



If nothing else the report provides some insight into how the Administration sees the remaining challenges; how the intellectual problem is set up in their minds. It suggests that events are now coming to a new phase; that although MNF-Iraq has created a vastly improved security situation and started a number of grassroots developments, the final acts now lie in the hands of the Iraqi leaders, US diplomats -- and God -- or if you prefer, fortune. "The key to long-term success will be the GoI’s ability to capitalize upon local gains, pass key legislation and promote national reconciliation." Here matters pass beyond the certitude of arms and into the realm of politics and the unpredictable choices of the Iraqi people. Ultimately this may be what betting on democracy is all about: a willingness to risk the right process will work in the long run however nervous it makes Washington in the short run. Betting on the success of democracy over a client strongman is probabalistically the smart thing to do but it can still fail in the particular instance. But if you have to go, go with the odds.

But if Iraq succeeds it has the potential to transform the strategic picture in the region the way Germany and South Korea did in their own parts of the world. The report notes that the following Iraqi Security Forces will be raised up.

As of November 15, 2007, the Coalition and the Ministry of Defense have generated 117 army battalions that are conducting operations at varying levels of capability; another 42 are currently in or planned for force generation. Ten divisions, 34 brigades, and 108 battalions have the lead in counterinsurgency operations in their areas of responsibility.

Can't make Iran too happy.

7 Comments:

Blogger Nomenklatura said...

It's not difficult to see that the task of attempting to create something non-dysfunctional out of an Arab country was going to have to be tackled sooner or later. Nor that it was better to do so, in our interests and in theirs, before any Arab country managed to obtain nuclear weapons.

GWB's particular genius was to see that the Democrats and the press would go into uncompromising opposition, and that the power of the Presidency would enable him to ignore them and get on with it.

Despite his supposed idiocy, he may have been helped in this by an ability to read history.

12/19/2007 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Francine said...

Our friends the Pakis.

Syrian President Bashar Assad turned down an offer to buy nuclear missiles from Pakistani weapons smugglers in 2001, he was quoted as saying Wednesday.

In an interview with the Austrian newspaper Die Presse, Assad said that the smugglers introduced themselves as envoys of Abdul Qadeer Khan, considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.

12/19/2007 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

It will be interesting to see whether the goal of establishing a stable, democratic, country allied with the United States will automatically imply a permanently hostile presence to theocratic Iran and other dictatorial forces in the region in the manner of Germany versus the Eastern Block or South Korea versus North Korea during the Cold War.

This will be the acid test. Since it is nearly impossible to outdo Muslims for pure obstinate mulishness in the face of overwhelmingly contradictory evidence, I'm not holding out a lot of hope that Iraq will align against its surrounding terrorist neighbors. Especially so in light of their reinstalling shari'a law.

Al Maliki is one solid reason for this. In writing about his conversations with Khudayr Taher, author Sami Moubayed noted how:

The only contradictory statement, which shatters much of the flattering talk revolving around Maliki, was made by Khudayr Taher, a US-based Shi'ite writer who has known Maliki since their days in exile in Syria in the 1980s.

Taher wrote an editorial in Arabic saying that he used to meet Maliki at the local library in Syria, where he would be doing research for his master's degree in Arabic literature, pointing out: "I do not claim that we were friends." Taher said Maliki had "modest general knowledge ... he will be a puppet in the hands of Jaafari, Hakim, the Kurds and Sunnis". He added that Maliki "does not believe in democracy because of his ideological commitments" in al-Da'wa Party, claiming that political Islam and democracy do not meet for someone like Maliki.

In a private discussion held when both men were in Syria, Maliki told Taher: "We declare our acceptance of democracy, but in reality, we are tricking them [the Americans] in order to topple Saddam and come to power." Taher writes: "I swear to God that this is exactly what he said!"

Taher adds that Maliki does not believe in the equality of women and will refuse to give any cabinet posts to Iraqi women, unless those imposed by the Kurds. He wraps up by saying that Maliki is anti-American, and has expressed his anti-American views to friends and in private discourse.

[emphasis added]

Remember, Taher is a Shi'ite Muslim living in America who has written an article titled, "Europe and America Should Deport All Muslims - Including Myself". This from a Muslim who deeply loves America. I see little reason to doubt his observations about Nour al Maliki and Iraq's Prime Minister has done little to dispel these perceptions during his tenure.

12/19/2007 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Francine said:

"Syrian President Bashar Assad turned down an offer to buy nuclear missiles from Pakistani weapons smugglers in 2001, he was quoted as saying Wednesday."

Interesting yarn...

Do you trust the media source that told the story?

Do you trust Bashar Assad to tell the truth about the offer from the weapon smugglers?

Do you trust what the weapon smugglers were telling Bashar Assad?

If the over-all story was even true (unlikely), a good working assumption is the weapon smugglers were trying to scam Assad (they didn't actually have any real nuclear weapons to sell), Assad saw the deception and refused to swallow the bait.

These sorts stories often appear at Debka File (they're normally baloney).

12/19/2007 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

I used to ask my liberal friends to cite a few examples where Surrender worked out good.

Y'know, since they were desperately advocating something that seems like Surrender, although I'm an ass if I call it that, I would think they could find historical references and precedents where Surrender was a Good Idea.

I warned them not to look in the Plant or Animal Kingdoms for precedent, just to save them a little time.

GWB's genius was to DO SOMETHING instead of sit on America's thumbs.

12/20/2007 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

tony: GWB's genius was to DO SOMETHING instead of sit on America's thumbs.

From someone who is no great admirer of Bush II, your sentiment is still spot on. Unlike whatever flaccid retaliation some democratic government might have dispensed, at least Bush gave them a dose of salts. Let that be to his eternal credit.

12/20/2007 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Wretchard..."That's to say, the overall fate of the American effort now depends on whether the Iraqi people and leaders can be persuaded to ratify the events of the last years."

Maybe, that should read that 'the fate of the American effort depends on whether the Iraqi people can persuade the Iraqi leaders to ratify the events of the last years.'

Just a thought.

12/20/2007 11:38:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger