Thursday, May 15, 2008

We lied

I guess truces with terrorist factions aren't all they're cracked up to be. The NYT reports on the "truce" in Sadr City.

BAGHDAD — An Iraqi soldier was watching over the concrete wall on Monday when a .50-caliber round ripped into his head. Soon after the attack was reported on the tactical radio, two American military advisers were on their way to the scene, laser range finder in hand, to call in a Hellfire missile strike on a sniper position on the far side of a desolate no man’s land. ...

The formal truce that was announced in the Green Zone with great fanfare on Monday has meant nothing here. Shiite militias have been trying to blast gaps in the wall, firing at the American troops who are completing it and maneuvering to pick off the Iraqi soldiers who have been charged with keeping an eye on the partition.

Now suppose the next administration extracted a promise from Teheran to be nice if the US withdrew all its forces from Iraq within six months of the deal. How would the US know that the Iranians would keep their end of the deal? One could consider the problem in the abstract by estimating the payoff matrix for the Iranians would be if they 1) continued to abide by their agreement; or 2) renege upon it. A lot would depend on what Teheran calculated to be the costs of betrayal if it double-crossed the Obama administration for example. Based on that payoff matrix then Teheran could be expected to pursue the dominating strategy.

But suppose Iraq were stabilized to the point where it didn't make a difference whether the US withdrew or not? What would be the dominating Iranian strategy then?

Agreements, like truces, do not in general enforce themselves. Either they are maintained by sanction or the normal operation of self interest. One of the issues that must necessarily be explored by anyone who seeks to do a deal with Iran is just why Teheran shouldn't lie to you.




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16 Comments:

Blogger Locomotive Breath said...

This is why the correct objective to war is to totally, and completely annihilate your enemy into dust.

Did the world learn nothing of WWII, and the unconditional destruction & surrender of the axis?

5/15/2008 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Stan Smith said...

Can you say taqqiyah?

I knew you could.

5/15/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

The original negotiations, as with the Palestinians, were just shams anyway. Fact is, nobody is in charge. They just pretend to be for the sake of their pretend-followers. The whole place is just a rolling riot of criminals, mad-men and meddling.
The only effective response is to impose order without regard to any irrelevant legalistic chattering. Once order is imposed, maybe structured agreements will begin to make a difference.

5/15/2008 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger putnam said...

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Yes, America has a lot to be ashamed of. Too bad it has nothing to do with Teresa's blather.

5/15/2008 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Am I completely wrong in my understanding that the original Gulf War ended in an armistice NOT a peace treaty?

... that the suspension of hostile action was DEPENDENT upon Iraq's refraining from violations of the terms of the armistice?

... that each missile launched by Iraqi batteries against Coalition airships patrolling the "No Fly" zones, and each Iraqi military assault against the Kurds or other domestic opposition groups, constituted a specific violation of the armistice terms?

Throughout history, belligerents have halted their hostilities temporarily in order to hold talks. Hostilities frequently resume if the parties find there is no basis for peace. That usually means each party thinks it can still batter the other enough to withdraw or submit.

Even a when the belligerents reach a point where one "sues for peace" or surrenders, a Peace Treaty normally requires the losing commanders to instruct all troops under its command to lay down their arms and foreswear further resistance. Resumption of military attacks against are the normal consequence when troops on the losing side refuse to abide by the surrender / treaty / armistice terms.

In my mind, our 2003 "invasion" of Iraq was to end for once and all, Saddam Hussain's decade-long series of conspicuous violations of the original Armistice which suspended Coalition operations in 1991.

The missile attacks against NATO and U.S. aircraft should be regarded as acts of war sufficient in themselves to serve as "casus belli."

The point was that Saddam Hussain's regime was by any measure, an outlaw to all nations or enemies to all humanity --- hostis humani generis --- and needed killin' in the worst way.

5/15/2008 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger j- said...

*In my mind, our 2003 "invasion" of Iraq was to end for once and all, Saddam Hussain's decade-long series of conspicuous violations of the original Armistice which suspended Coalition operations in 1991.

The missile attacks against NATO and U.S. aircraft should be regarded as acts of war sufficient in themselves to serve as "casus belli."*

Not just "in your mind", but in reality, too.

This simple fact should be the end of all of the stupid arguing that has gone on since even before the invasion, too. All of the other stuff [WMD, etc.] is meaningless and unimportant. Bush should have never introduced any of it into the conversation.

5/15/2008 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Cris said...

.50-caliber round?
I wonder if it was from one of these Steyr-by-way-of-Iran rifles?

5/15/2008 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Doc99 said...

Truce in Arabic means "Reload."

5/15/2008 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

President Obama goes to Tehran and says "You had me at 'screw you!'" The Mullahs coax him to wear his new gift: a diamond studded, red, white and red "Death to America" lapel pin. Does he refuse to wear it because of the empty symbolism involved? Or does he put it on in the furtherance of world peace? He'll offer them the Zero option. We'll give up our 12,000 nukes if they give up their -- how many they got anyways? They will consider this if we give up our missile defense as a sign of good faith. He'll say, too late, already done that. What else can we do to show our good faith?

5/15/2008 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

Blogger hdgreene said...

President Obama goes to Tehran and says "You had me at 'screw you!'"

That's coffee spitting funny! But so true, & it expresses satirically the problem Wretchard poses: "One of the issues that must necessarily be explored by anyone who seeks to do a deal with Iran is just why Teheran shouldn't lie to you."

Obama has already declared he's withdrawing asap, no matter what. he has committed himself to negotiating Iran with "no preconditions". he vowed to scrap missile defense. He publicly accepted Iranian influence in Iraq as inevitable, whether we like it or not. Before the negotiations have begun, he has given away all his sticks. He's even given away the biggest carrot: control of Iraq. What's left to negotiate?

5/16/2008 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

j-: The missile attacks against NATO and U.S. aircraft should be regarded as acts of war sufficient in themselves to serve as "casus belli."*

I agree with the point you're making, but Bush-43 wanted to emulate his father, who put together the grand coalition to reverse the invasion of Kuwait. This required UN mandates and triggers like WMD evidence. So we're talking about bad leadership.

5/16/2008 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Rodney said...

Mad Fidler,

In my estimation you are dead on. The violations of the cease fire were sufficient reason unto themselves for a resumption of hostilities with Iraq.

By the same token the hostile acts undertaken by Iran (and Iran's proxies), dating back 28 years and continuing to this day, are sufficient cause to justify reprisal.

5/16/2008 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Am I completely wrong in my understanding that the original Gulf War ended in an armistice NOT a peace treaty?"

I've made this point in comments probably 50 times this year, because I'm SO tired of hearing how Bush "lied us into war". He was following the same intelligence as the rest of the world, so there was no "lie", but beyond that, we had so many perfectly legal reasons to go to war with Iraq that if we stopped to count them all we'd never get around to the actual war.

We should have trounced them within an hour of the very first time they fired a missile at one of our planes. Then there would have been no way for people to twist around the reasons why we did it to make it all our fault.

5/16/2008 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

No, the urgency and need was there, our ability to do the job was there, the numbers of boots available to supervise transition from siege through occupation to self governing nation, was lacking. I believe we needed the coalition more in 2003 than in 1990. Unfortunately some nations leaders were more concerned in their Oil for food supplemental income than they were in long term viability of their own country.

Just Ask Obama's friend, from Paris and Baghdad and the one Syria too. They have some very real insight into the matters and perceptions of the time.

5/16/2008 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

From the Daily Mail:
Airport security was condemned as a joke after an Afghan involved in the Stansted hijacking was found to be working at Heathrow as a cleaner.

Police arrested Nazamuddin Mohammidy at Terminal 5 where he showed his British Airways pass allowing him access to secure areas.

The Tories said it was a breathtaking breach of security and demanded immediate action from the Government.

Mohammidy, 34, was one of nine Afghans who won the right to live in Britain after hijacking a passenger flight in Afghanistan in 2000. The Boeing 727 was flown to Stansted in Essex where the captors threatened to kill the 160 passengers unless they were granted asylum.

The gang was jailed but later released and given the right to remain in Britain rent-free, receiving £150,000 a year in benefits.

Be afraid, be very afraid. Our side is not taking the war seriously.

5/17/2008 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Grimmy said...

It is proper to negotiate with an enemy for a cease fire or other issue, when deemed desirable. But, they only get ZERO trespass.

Break it once, no mercy, no forgiveness, no remorse. Absolute and total destruction. Nothing short of that is a competent response to such breaches of honor.

To do otherwise is to volunteer to play the fool. It's called "being the punk".

5/17/2008 12:12:00 PM  

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