Monday, December 04, 2006

The Seventh Circle

"Damascus, Syria: A top spokesman for the former Baath party of Iraq said in a recent interview that his group will not reconcile with the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad nor stop its active support of the insurgency unless the Iraqi government and U.S. officials first meet strict conditions including the withdrawal of American troops," according to the AP.

The interview came at a time when Saddam's followers are taking steps to regroup and regain political influence outside Iraq. They have been increasingly outspoken in recent weeks, apparently in an effort to blunt efforts by other Sunnis, encouraged by the United States and neighboring Arab regimes, to reach some deal with Iraq's Shiite-led government. U.S. officials have said they believe Iraq's Sunni insurgency is made up of both Saddam loyalists, such as the former Baathists, and also foreign Islamic extremist terrorists with broad al-Qaida links. Saddam's Baath party was generally a nationalistic, secular party before the 2003 U.S-led invasion of Iraq, and in the interview earlier this week, Abu Mohammed suggested the group retained much of that character.

He described what he called "a big difference" between Saddam loyalists and al-Qaida linked elements of the insurgency. "Our program is to liberate Iraq .. We are fighting the Americans because they have occupied Iraq, while al-Qaida has a different program. They want to kill the Americans in Washington and any where in the world," he said. He said the al-Qaida linked extremists regarded his group as atheists

As I wrote in an earlier thread, the ever victorious, ever regrouping Sunni insurgency has never passed up a chance to compound its errors.(See But Deliver Us From Evil) Westhawk comments on a State Department proposal to allow the complete defeat and ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis in Iraq and examines what its regional consequences would be. First, here is what the State Department proposal essentially says, and which Westhawk characterizes brutally as "a major breakthrough for U.S. policy. Mr. Bush would be abandoning Iraq’s Sunni Arabs to an unpleasant fate. Leaving “the thorny task of reconciliation to the Iraqis” is merely a euphemism for waving through Shi’ite and Kurdish ethnic cleansing of greater Baghdad."

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is deliberating whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government, according to U.S. officials. The proposal, put forward by the State Department as part of a crash White House review of Iraq policy, follows an assessment that the ambitious U.S. outreach to Sunni dissidents has failed. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that their reconciliation efforts may even have backfired, alienating the Shiite majority and leaving the United States vulnerable to having no allies in Iraq, according to sources familiar with the State Department proposal.

Westhawk goes on to say:

As the Washington Post article points out, there are risks to abandoning Iraq’s Sunni Arabs to their fate. U.S. military commanders in Iraq, especially U.S. Marine commanders in al-Anbar province, are likely to be unhappy. Although the Marines have suffered relatively steep casualties in Anbar, they have also built up relations and alliances with tribes and political leaders in the area. These relationships have been useful for attacking and containing Al Qaeda’s influence in the area. If Mr. Bush decides to cast away the Sunnis, these tribes and leaders may conclude that their only choice will be to change sides and make an accommodation with Al Qaeda.

A bigger problem would be the risk of sparking an even greater regional conflict. Other Sunni Arab powers in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan may decide that they need to enter the war to defend their Sunni Arab brothers in Iraq. Their motives for doing this could be very practical. First, domestic political pressures may require leaders in these countries to show solidarity with Iraq’s Sunnis. These leaders may conclude that they need to support the Sunnis to ward off Iranian expansionism. But the most compelling reason for intervening may be the most practical – to attempt to avert large refugee flows of Iraqi Sunni Arabs into their countries. Despite these drawbacks, we remain convinced that Mr. Bush has no choice but to approve the State Department’s proposal.


The logic for crushing the Sunni insurgency is that is the fate they have chosen for themselves. The objections against it are not only moral but practical. Removing them from the board will mean that there will be no countervailing force against the Shi'ites. Colonial powers always employed the policy of "divide and rule" to pacify nations. Without the Sunnis, there is nothing to divide between. My own guess is that the key Sunni insurgency trump card is described in the phrase "The interview came at a time when Saddam's followers are taking steps to regroup and regain political influence outside Iraq,", which is AP-speak for they are looking for someone to save their hide. One way to understand SCRI leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim's aversion to a "regional solution" to Iraqi problems is that he wants none of that nonsense. The Sunnis are on the ropes. He doesn't want anyone ringing the bell. He wants the full count.

Bush spoke with al-Hakim directly about Iran and Syria and the critical need for them to respect Iraqi sovereignty and stop destructive activity that undermines Iraq's unity government, a senior administration official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge details of the meeting The official said it wasn't known whether al-Hakim specifically asked Bush to enlist Iran's assistance. Al-Hakim told reporters that he vehemently opposes any regional or international effort to solve Iraq's problems that goes around the unity government in Baghdad.

"We reject any attempts to have a regional or international role in solving the Iraqi issue," the cleric, who speaks Arabic, said through a translator. "We cannot bypass the political process. Iraq should be in a position to solve Iraqi problems."

Later, in a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, al-Hakim said Iraq is interested in creating good relations with all neighboring nations, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Syria and Jordan. But he said: "We do not want to distribute shares of power to neighboring countries, but rather we want balanced relations."

One of the greatest pieces of disinformation that the press ever sold the public was this notion that the Sunni insurgency was on the verge of defeating American forces in Iraq. This idea has made it difficult for much of the public to understand the dynamic of the fight and it represents a failure of narrative which is only latterly being corrected.


Blogger Starko said...


With all due respect to your intellect and insightfulness (please take that phrase literally), I read the interview you cited (with the Baathist based in Syria) earlier and my doubts about your thoughts on the Sunni "strategy" seemed to be confirmed.

My doubts were and are that there simply isn't any Sunni strategy, at least not in the way that the US/Syria/Iran might have a strategy. Through action and now word, it would seem as though most Sunnis with influence in Iraq would rather damn their present and future to have some modicum of revenge than settle for peace that requires a modicum of tolerance.

That being said I find it very hard to agree with Westhawk that the best (or chosen) course of action is complete abandonment of the Sunnis. I am a pragmatist at heart but I find the moral aspect of this proposal to be the part that bothers me most- genocide virtually (if not always) entails the spilling of much innocent blood.

In the best case scenario, allowing the genocide of Sunnis would create a peaceful end state. But how does this differ from Saddam’s methods for maintaining peace? Morally speaking, I think it differs very little.

However, what we may not implement by design may happen anyway through apathy- the "graceful" withdrawal of troops too early will provide the same result.

12/04/2006 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Wow. I am amazed. Talk about your realpolitik. Sort of like letting the kids in the back seat fight it out among themselves.

The US gets the results of a precipitous withdrawal without the helicopters leaving the embassy on TV.

There is even a small chance that the Sunnis would sue for peace after a small dose of ethnic cleansing.

The irony of all this is that the US couldn't have done this but the Iraqis can. International human rights law prevents the US from ethnic cleansing but doesn't prevent the Shiites from doing it.

Now read the post again, just substitute Palestinian for Sunni and Israelis for Shiites. Think about how that would work.

12/04/2006 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

How's that for irony. As long as our troops remain in Iraq, Iraqi extremists will continue to murder their Iraqi rivals.

Sounds like this same scenario will be playing soon in Lebanon too. Except there, it's the country's close proximity to Israel that's causing Muslim on Muslim violence.

Could be that the best way to eliminate the bad guys is to hunker down & not fire a round.

12/04/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

wretchard wrote:
One of the greatest pieces of disinformation that the press ever sold the public was this notion that the Sunni insurgency was on the verge of defeating American forces in Iraq

Do you really think Americans believe we are being defeated militarily? I don't. I know that the treasonous MSM continues to lie and mislead - but Ma&Pa MiddleAmerica really don't trust the MSM anymore. Katie Couric is viewed as an animated (barely) cover to a checkout stand tabloid. (my favorite: "Elvis back from the dead with amazing new UFO sex diet" by Dave Barry).

Americans may be reacting to the Osama's machinations, but I believe the heartland recognizes the need to make this work. American's are not like the Spanish or the cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys.

12/04/2006 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

sorry utopia, appears great minds do walk the same paths - similar anyways :o)

12/04/2006 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Al-Hakim said he talked with Bush about equipment, including armaments, that the Iraqi security forces need. He pledged that the government would deal with all forms of terror, no matter where they originate.

He also said in the speech that eliminating the danger of civil war in Iraq can be done only by decisive strikes against terrorist Baathists and extremist followers of Islam. "Otherwise we will continue to witness massacres being committed every now and then against the innocent Iraqis," he said.

Stop Violence in Iraq

12/04/2006 06:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dla said, "Do you really think Americans believe we are being defeated militarily?"

Americans are irresistable in warfare and we know it, but this is a civil war between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis and our leaders won't even tell us who's side we're supposed to be on. Flip a coin, choose a side, and turn the boys loose, let's have no more of this catch and release crap.

12/04/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

The translation I think is, "finish them off or let us do it".

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) speaking at the U.S. Institute for Peace, a U.S. government-funded foreign policy institute, called for "tougher action against the two groups [Sunni insurgents and al-Qaida terrorists that have] brought Iraq to the brink of civil war. The strikes they are getting from the multinational forces are not hard enough to put an end to their acts" (McClatchy Newspapers)

12/04/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Some Sunnis get the message. But then, maybe they don't read the Western newspapers.

"Baghdad — With sectarian violence reaching new extremes, some Sunni Muslim clerics are breaking with the most militant factions in their sect and reaching out to Shiite clergy in an effort to pull Iraq back from the abyss." (LA Times, hat tip Mudville Gazette)

12/04/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

The sunni they get rid of them the better.

12/04/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More Iranian meddling:

Turkey and Iran announced that the two nations have established a bilateral "commission" to combat "Kurdish" terrorism. The commission will deal with the PKK and the Iranian PEJAK (PKK in Iran). It is unclear exactly what the commission will do. However, Turkish officials reported that there are groups in Iran that have called for "joint operations" (ie, Turkish and Iranian troops operating together) against Kurdish separatists. Approximately four million Kurds live in Iran. Six million Kurds live in Iraq. From twelve to fifteen million (depending on the source of the figures) live in Turkey.

Unclear? "Joint operations" would allow Turkey to somehow give Iran casus belli to directly interfere and destabilise the Kurdish peace in Iraq. The mullahs fear that the Kurds might present a viable threat to the complete dominance of Shiites in Iraq and are thus aiming to propel Iraq into a civil war whereby nobody is spared - since the Sunnis are being so efficiently cleansed away, why not the Kurds as well?

December 4, 2006: Alarmed as the increasing military power of Iran, and a Shia government in Iraq, Saudi Arabia is going to spend $60 billion, over the next few years, to increase the quantity and quality of its armed forces.

Looks like the Saudis are prepping themselves for what seems like an inevitable American withdrawal - are they giving up on their co-religionists already? Has the Saudi faith in us dissipated, that we have failed to ward off burgeoning Iranian influence and guarantee the sanctity of Sunnis in Iraq?

wretchard wrote: Without the Sunnis, there is nothing to divide between.

You can trust Arabs to always find someone to fight against. Internecine conflict remains a potent mainstay of the Middle East, one that will not go away even if we pull out and give the Shiites carte blanche to annihilate the Sunnis. al-Hakim and al-Sadr are competing centres of Shiite power within Iraq, and you can bet that Badr and Sadr death squads will be running rampant faster than you can say "peace out".

The fiction that if we pull out, things will be any better - needs to be dispelled. Post-withdrawal, we'll be inclined yet again to save Shiites from Shiites, if only to prevent an imminent Iranian proxy state from emerging. al-Hakim's aversion to a "regional solution" cannot possibly be taken at face value: for all we know, his parameters might include Iran but not the US.

wretchard, let's hope the Sunnis and Shiites get the message from Anbar.

Imagine this scenario: both al-Hakim and al-Sadr want the US out, but the former fears that SCIRI influence is waning in the face of burgeoning appeal of the Sadrists, so al-Hakim persuades Maliki to install al-Sadr in government whereby his actions can be monitored and moderated by parliament. al-Hakim convinces Maliki that he can control al-Sadr.

Sound familiar?

12/04/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

The more I look at the situation deteriorating in Iraq and the coming storm in Lebanon, the the better GWB looks.

Every Muslim leader in the ME (and in NE Africa) seeking power, it seems, is now trying to play his hand - the lust for power being too irresistable to suppress.

And Sistani, the only leader shown to have demonstrated any degree of wisdom and concern for the governed is noticably silent.

With the Muslim-on Muslim violence ramping up only one conclusion can be reached - Muslims must either convert or die.


12/04/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harrison said, " al-Hakim persuades Maliki to install al-Sadr in government whereby his actions can be monitored and moderated by parliament..."

And the parliamentarians are, in turn, monitored and moderated by the al-Sadr militia with their battery chargers and steel wool and buckets of salt water.

12/04/2006 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Some time ago I commented on an article written in the Washington Post about would happen if we abandon Iraq prematurely. The article is written by a Saud stating if we leave Iraq and leave the Sunnis hanging (literally) then Saudi Arabia would be forced in by pressure from its Sunni population. According to the article the Saudi gov. already feels tremendous pressure to intervene but its close ties (however sincere they may or may not be, and no doubt Saudi's ties to us are closer than Iran to us) with us have managed to prevent Saudi government interference. However, absent the US (or the attempts to protect the Sunnis from the depradations of the Shias) in Iraq that feter would be gone.

Enscout's suggestion to ... hunker down & not fire a round. is very tempting, but as to justice of it, I am not certain of it.

As far as the sentiment Wretchard picks up on Finish them or let us do it. Michael Yon (IIRC) reported the same thing. Iraqi police/military wanting to get at the guys captured by US Forces. Trying to have the US Military let the captured guys "escape" to be caught by the IP or the Iraqi Army. I am sure a goodly number of times it was because they had someone's buddy, but I am also sure a goodly number of times the captured insurgent would have been shown to his dirt-nap instead of 3 squares and habeus corpus.

12/04/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


Interesting points you raise there. Maybe there was never a Sunni strategy. Or perhaps there was one based on a "irrational actor" model with the Sunnis consistently working against their best interests. But may there is some element of truth in my belief that the Sunnis have been egged on by their apparent PR successes. Do you recall Haifa Street murder and how AP portrayed that as proof of the power of the insurgency?

It was actually a snapshot of the Sunni insurgency committing political suicide as they excluded themselves from the process. Even as they have declined in strength they can still get the MSM to carry the words of "Captain Jamil Hussein" to a worldwide audience. I think the Sunnis will know they have finally lost when the wires stop believing in their victories. But long will that day be.

Maybe I'm being stubborn, but I think they got inordinate encouragement from their info war successes. But in reality they were being ground down. And now, not even the newspapers can save them. So they are shopping around for a "regional solution" to save their butts. But the Shi'ites are having none of it and want to go for the kill.

State is asking, "why not join the winning team?". Diplomats were always a cold-blooded bunch, their smooth demeanors notwithstanding. All the same, I share your unease and distaste for leaving the Shi'ites to cut them up. But I also see an opportunity in the Sunni weakness. Maybe like the Japanese in 1945 they are starting to have enough. "Maybe" because their past behavior gives little confidence in rationality. But if they are starting to crack then despair and fear of the Shi'a may finally make them, if you pardon the expression, experience a Come to Jesus moment. It's a hope.

12/04/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Which Ring?

Is it possible the Sunnis fill all three rings?

12/04/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Seems to me the Sunnis fit nicely with the innermost circle, Cocytus:

Treacherous to their masters,
treacherous to their guests,
treacherous to their country,
treacherous to their kin.

12/04/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woman catholic wrote: And the parliamentarians are, in turn, monitored and moderated by the al-Sadr militia with their battery chargers and steel wool and buckets of salt water.

Remember von Papen?

12/04/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Wood of Suicides

12/04/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

I've always held that the Bush administrations decision to invade Iraq had something to do with the general nastiness of the regime there. Hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths is good enough reason alone to interfere. And please know that I get a bit cynical about the situation there given the circumstances.

But we've deposed that tyrant and still the deaths of innocent(?) civilians continues - and it's not the occupation force that's taking out the indigs,nor is it due to some tyrannical overlord but to the nature of the Muslim population itself.

All we've heard from the MSM & the left for the last 6 years is how Bush made a mess in the ME. But now we know that the ME was a mess without us and continues to be dispite our best efforts to the contrary. The Dems' cut & run policy confirms that.

OIF has given ME Islam an opportunity for a fresh start. A chance to govern themselves. But they are of such a worldview that it may be impossible for them to share governance.

12/04/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: Cocytus

So many choices, so little time.

12/04/2006 08:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their leaves are painfully eaten by the Harpies, mythological birds which destroy all they touch.

When their leaves or branches are plucked, they bleed - and it is the only moments in which they can speak.

Only at the brink of existence - after being tormented, beseiged and ripped to shreds by the Shiites (Harpies?) do the Sunnis in Iraq finally "speak", as wretchard mentioned: But if they are starting to crack then despair and fear of the Shi'a may finally make them, if you pardon the expression, experience a Come to Jesus moment. It's a hope.

Very apt allusion, allen! And thank you for showing support for me and respecting my opinions in the previous posts.

12/04/2006 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Coach Mark said...

If anyone is interested I just finished my interview with Tommy Franks #2 on what he knew about Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda while planning for the invasion. He mentioned some NEW intelligence on the link between the two. Solid intelligence yet to be seen.

3-Star General reveals additional details of former regime's ties to terror (al Qaeda)

12/04/2006 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger IceCold said...

wretchard and others, I think we're mostly discussing the Iraqi Sunnis in a way that inaccurately, and importantly, exaggerates their solidarity or even similarity. Not just because it's the Arab world - but there are divisions within divisions, both regional and tribal and political.

I don't think genocide or ethnic cleansing on any grand scale are in prospect. Given enough pressure - the kind they've never felt due mostly to our tactics of warfare-free war and the instantaneous hand-over of sovereignty and nearly exclusive focus on political milestones and Al Qaeda - the various Sunni communities will crack. This may take various forms by area or individual - flee the area, flee the country, make a deal with the central govt. or the next-door community, etc. There's not a chance they'll both scuttle and go down with their own ship, in my view.

"Sunni engagement" is a curious case. One skeptic at the embassy used to say that he "supported Sunni engagement - as long as it included lots of airpower, kinetic ops, mass preventive detention, roadblocks, and economic quarantines" and other measures to break their will. The strategy had its accomplishments, and in a sense the current unity govt. is a sort of empty version of the real thing that some day will actually rule a united country - but the groundwork for it, and the conditions for its maximum success, were never created. The lack of military pressure and short-term consequences for the insurgency and support/connivance/tolerance of AQ have made it easier on the "state Sunnis" to survive since the election but have left the insurgency, of course, viable. It was a version of Frederick the Great's orchesta without instruments - a strategy in the midst of war that lacks compulsion or violence as tools.

Had the occasion to speak to a college class recently and the one thing that got them was when I pointed out that what we've seen since mid-2003 has been a relentless campaign of incredibly barbaric terrorism, by Sunnis both domestic and foreign, against Iraqi Shi'a. There has been no break - none of the elections has changed it (even the last one that led to Sunni participation in a unity govt.); none of the various tweaks in US military strategy have changed it; only brief localized interludes have occurred when the US leviathan bestirred itself to action beyond raids and supply route patrols (Fallujah 2004, some parts of B'dad during the recent security ops). Otherwise it's been this relentless, barbaric terror campaign - Sunni against Shi'a. The students seemed to understand when I related that many Iraqi Shi'a spit with contempt when they hear of "civil war" only since February 2006 - i.e., when anti-Sunni attacks stepped up to a new level (these are sophisticated, urban Shi'a who work for the US - hardly the most sectarian or intense people).

If, against the odds, the US finally decides to fight the insurgency in a serious manner, it will have great success at historically low costs, the Sunni community will splinter, but in the end most of it will make its peace with us and the central govt. - because there'll be no choice.

We might sum up the US failure to achieve its security objectives Iraq to date easily: we've almost never forced any of our Iraqi adversaries to really make a choice. Abizaid and Casey and Rumsfeld et al are smart guys, but it has been an impenetrable mystery (and one that goes back nearly two years in the active conversations of many close to the situation) how they thought they were going to change behavior in the most hobbesian environment on Earth relying almost entirely on political development and lacking compulsion or force.

There are no non-military solutions to military problems.

12/04/2006 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


"There are no non-military solutions to military problems". This insight should undergo a revival alongside the realization that unity has been maintained by intimidation and force. If I understand your argument aright, the enemy has always been speaking one language, "terror" while we have been speaking in another -- "politics and development" -- but now we are in a place where to speak at all is to speak in force.

Maybe its no coincidence that many of the indigenous voices are calling for violence, or put another way, "law and order. Al-Hakim wants violence used against the Sunnis, and the US wants Maliki to force the "militias" out of business. Maybe the new consensus is that more than talk is required.

These are all interesting ideas, but which will be chosen? The Pentagon wants to "go long" or so we are told. The State Department has floated this "screw the Sunnis" idea. In about two days we will know what the Baker commission has decided on. From the sound of it they were internally divided. And the leaks say they will recommend for withdrawal with no timetable, which is a lot like talking out of both sides of the mouth.

For the first time in about two years, all these ideas are busting out, freed from political constraints. It will all depend on whether the political leadership is able to pick up the right threads that lead to victory -- John McCain used that word, so maybe its ok -- in the coming months.

12/04/2006 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's a pity that only when the possibility of withdrawal has become almost imminent - even somehow inevitable as the MSM and realists would have us believe and submit to without deliberate consideration - that the Sunnis are finally (fingers crossed) having an epiphanous realisation of sorts, a coming-to-terms with their absolutely self-defeating non-strategy (courtesy of starko) of speaking through sectarianism and revanchism that was of their own creation following the aftermath of the Iraqi war.

The Sunnis have realised that force per se isn't necessarily the only, or best, channel through which to ensure their sanctity in a Shia-dominated Iraq; while the Shiites have grasped the reins of power, on the verge of monopolising and legitimising the use of state-sponsored violence and sectarian justice upon Sunnis - that is, if we do nothing and withdraw.

Power relations have finally reversed 180 degrees from since Saddam's reign. If we believe that the Sunnis - however undeserving of our sympathy and protection - are at the precipice of either reaching out to the Shiites or joining the insurgency and effectively condemning themselves to eradication, I fear that al-Sadr, al-Hakim and the Shiite powerbrokers will exploit this sudden rejection of force as an option employed by the Sunnis.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The ravenous Shiites smell blood, and they are bound to continue their rampaging run. As wretchard noted, either we do it or they'll seize the initiative to do it themselves.

We cannot trust the Shiites to employ moderated force with regards to the situation, because they know no limits. The ball is in our court now, and it's up to us to signal to the Shiites that however politically and diplomatically restrained we might be at home by those realists, MSM and proponents of defeatism, good ol' force still works when dealing with the Middle East.

12/05/2006 12:25:00 AM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

"The only way for us to lose this, is to leave." President Bush 2005.

It was true then, and it is true today. The US led MNF forces cannot be defeated in the field. The enemy cannot hold any ground without risk of destruction. Time is on the US side, provided it doesn't lose its nerve. I'm still of the mind that the Iraqis still need some bloodletting before the forces of "national peace" will begin to hold sway. Only when the Sunnis realize that yesterday will never return, and tomorrow is going with or without them will a political solution be found. But then it may be too late. Hearts have hardened and the refrain could very well be: "Screw the Sunnis."

12/05/2006 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger AST said...

vali Nasr and Yitzak Nakash have written books recently about Shiite efforts to secure power so as to protect themselves from Sunni impositions. Nakash's book, Reaching for Power, discusses the history of Shiites in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq and the different ways they have been treated and how they have attempted to secure themselves against abuse by Sunnis who were sometimes in the minority, yet treated Shiites as less than infidels. The Wahhabis and Salafis clerics in Saudi Arabia have called for Shiites in the kingdom to be forcibly converted or killed.

The Saudis have been using oil wealth to build moaques and pay imams to spread their fundamentalist throughout the world and make themselves the "Vatican" of Islam.

The Iranians are determined not to let that happen, but the Iraqi Shiites are Arabs and don't wish to be subject to the Persian regime.

Both authors discuss the role that al-Sistani has played without becoming directly involved in politics. His main interest seems to be to protect the Shia identity from suppression by Sunnis, as during the Baath period, but his preaching has been that all Iraqis should vote and practice restraint in the face of Sunni provocations, and support an Iraqi solution for all Iraqis. He has immense influence and distributes a lot of offering funds in social services.

Al-Sadr strikes me as a Khomeini wannabe, a revolutionary who would seize power if he could and rule the way the Mullahs in Iran do. That is contrary to the weight of Shia tradition, however, and I doubt he'll succeed in the long run.

Neither author discusses the anti-american rhetoric or the impression all this violence creates among us infidels, but I guess that just isn't done among Muslim intellectuals. They both claim that Hizbollah is moderating from its original behavior, although I don't see it.

Nasr, who teaches Middle East Politics at the Navy Postgraduate University, seems to think that the best thing we can do is to provide cover while the various groups resolves their issues. He seems to think the hostilities will have to burn themselves out, but it could go out of control if outsiders are allowed to supply local militias and resistance movements. I think that Sistani's influence has been the most powerful, but we can't be seen to be negotiating with him or he to be too directly involved in the political processes. I think that Bush understands this and will continue to train local forces and do what we can to hold off those who would exploit the violence until the government can accept complete responsibility for its territory.

That's been their goal from the start. It may not work, but it's still too early to declare it a failure. There is more going on than just the sectarian violence.

12/05/2006 01:36:00 AM  
Blogger Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Leaving “the thorny task of reconciliation to the Iraqis” is merely a euphemism for waving through Shi’ite and Kurdish ethnic cleansing of greater Baghdad.

And of the christian Assyrians, who being least guilty will be well and truely wiped out.

The US-goaded West interved in Bosnia, and Kosovo precisely to prevent smaller ethnic cleansings a decade ago, and is still talking about intervention in Darfur for the same reason.


12/05/2006 01:43:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/05/2006 03:39:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Talk of eliminating Sunnis and breaking the country into three and all these other theories is foolishness. You want to have a hint about what you will accomplish, stop thinking about what you wish to accomplish. Think about what you have accomplished so far. That should interject some modesty into your ambitions and reality into your thinking about what the US is going to do in the Arab World.

It is after all an "Arab World."

12/05/2006 03:40:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

anointiata delenda est,

Your Spengler link is a must read - clear, concise, and devastating.

12/05/2006 04:53:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The War in Iraq is no longer military, tarnsman. That ended. The Phase line was crossed in '03.

Mr Rumsfeld was correct when he said the Insurgency was not militarily signifigant, he was and is right.

It was and is POLITICALLY signifigant.

The US can lose in Iraq, politically.
We are well on the way.

12/05/2006 05:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Clinton makes a big mistake with the Irak War.

Best Regards from

12/05/2006 05:50:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

My first perference would be tell the Sunnis in Iraq that we will be glad to provide them with arms and a safe haven in Iraq if they would care to try to take over Iran.

Talk about a win-win strategy....

12/05/2006 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger John F. Opie said...

Hi -

I think you're all missing the point, to a certain degree.

Let's talk root causes.

Ok, everyone stop groaning. This is better, because I think it recognizes the real problem in Iraq and Lebanon, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East (and it's a shameless plug for my blog...).

Take a look here:

and you can see what I mean.


12/05/2006 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

From the AP:

Al-Maliki to Call for Regional Meeting

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Tuesday his government will send envoys to neighboring countries to pave the way for a regional conference on ending the rampant violence in Iraq.

The Shiite leader appeared to back down from previous opposition to handing neighboring nations a say in Iraqi affairs but stressed that the conference would be held in Iraq, and that while his government would welcome help, it would not tolerate interference.

``After the political climate is cleared, we will call for the convening of a regional conference in which these countries that are keen on the stability and security of Iraq will participate,'' he said.

Quite the apparent reversal. I believe that Maliki, who ran Dawa's Jihad Office out of Damascus in the 80's has maintained close ties to the Syrian regime. I also think that his policy preferences will be suspiciously closer to Syria than they will be to ours. Anyone care to argue the opposite, that Maliki is "the right man for the job"?

12/05/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger goesh said...

- up the ante to a nation that wrings its hands over putting a woman's panties on an enemy's head and balks at profiling muslims from hostile nations and whose rules of engagement favor the enemy - why they aren't bombing our embassies the world over is beyond me.....

12/05/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim said, "US is not winning the war in Iraq, says defense secretary nominee Robert Gates at Senate confirmation hearings Tuesday."

That gets him through the Senate, but as soon as he gets to the Pentagon, he serves at the pleasure of the President, and the President was pleased to say that we are winning the war. How can there be an exit strategy when Bush believes we are winning? And just how does a third party "win" a civil war?

12/05/2006 06:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedarford said, "America is losing because the Left and transnational Jewish progressives bound us in international and domestic laws that all but ensure our defeat in war unless or until we destroy their power to keep those laws in place."

The power to keep a law in place does not reside in the hands of the billionaire Jewish oligarchs. Once a bill is signed into law, it remains law until the Congress intervenes with another law repealing the first law, unless the law contains a built in sunset provision.

12/05/2006 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedarford said, "Looked at from a global geostrategic perspective - America has suffered a series of major disasters since going into Iraq. Some directly attributable to that - others rising because others see us weakened and stuck in a quagmire."

But look at it this way, if the world's last remaining superpower can't even enforce its will in a divided and weak 7th Century craphole like Iraq, that makes the streets in Peoria quite safe from lesser powers coming here.

12/05/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

On your 'divide and conquer' comment, that's only true if the US is interested in ruling Iraq. We are not- if we ever were the American voters have invalidated the wish.

1. Sunni or Shia Iraq?
That's the choice on the table. We can't have both. Which is better? I think that Sunni Iraq has been an enemy of the US. Shia Iraq may or may not be. We can influence them by our actions now. We have failed to influence the Sunni- not surprising since we are at war with them!

2. Iraqi Shia are Arabs, don't speak Persian, and are 3/4 of the population of non- Kurdish Iraq (Kurdistan is going to happen- has happned.) That's enough for a nation- state distinct from Iran. That's stability- a minority government of Sunnis is NOT.

12/05/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

> There are no non-military solutions to military problems.

But it's not a military problem, it is a political one. It's about how the people of Iraq want to govern themselves. However many people we killed, the problem would still be there for the rest of them.

There is no possible military solution, and no one here has ever posted one. The Sunnis and Shiites are equally bad. The Shiites and their militias only support the government because they are the government. Al-Sadr's political party is a key part of Maliki's government. Why should we try to prop that up?

Do we just flip a coin and help one side wipe out the other? We would be at greater risk of terrorism because we would be seen as weak, someone that was easily used as a puppet by Maliki's government.

The way to make the Iraqis take the tough choices is to force them take all the bullets and IED's, instead of us. They will soon tire of their war.

12/06/2006 04:36:00 AM  
Blogger Starko said...


I wouldn't deny that the Sunnis have been encouraged by their PR successes. If they weren't they wouldn't continue to expend the effort on achieving additional successes.

However, I think that being encouraged by successes also fits with the "irrational actor" idea. I think to some Sunnis, these victories are the brights spots on the way to Ragnarök.

For those who don't know, Ragnarök is the end of the world in Norse mythology where good is ultimately defeated by evil, even as the forces of good fight valiantly to the bitter end).

Lastly, I obviously hope you're right about the Sunnis "seeing the light".

I think like all insurgencies, the only way to stamp it out is for the majority to come to their senses and cease to tolerate the bad guys, and if necessary make clear who the bad guys are so the powers that be can cut out the cancer.

It's very hard for a predator to track one zebra in a herd- they're all white with black stripes. But if all of the zebras but one suddenly turned black with white stripes, the lone white one is easy pickin's.

12/06/2006 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

The Sunnis lost a long time ago, and now are scrambling to find an exit strategy, a way to survive. Their original goal was to drive the US out so quickly that they could take the country over again. It won't happen. Saddam's regime is long dead and the best they could have is Sunnistan.

The Sunni terrorist tactics of killing civilians are utterly useless against the Shiites, who just respond in kind. The attacks on civilians are really a sign of extreme weakness in the Sunnis. Sunnis originally used Al Qaeda as puppets, but now are at risk from Al Qaeda.

12/06/2006 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

cedarford gets it wrong as usual:
Sorry, son. You're stuck in a 2003 time warp of altered perception and old rhetoric. The heartland of America has spoken.

I'm not sure you even know what happened in 2003, given that you keep referring back to it.

You're not part of the heartland. The low voter turnout suggests that the heartland didn't speak. And a look at the candidates elected shows that conservative Democrats, not the loon-left was the popular choice.

I'm beginning to think you're the one stuck in some sort of warp.

But come now, let us reason together. Can you please show me how "we lost" based on one election? Of course you can't. All you can do is regurgitate what the MSM has fed you.

So go ahead and type, but leave the thinking to others.

12/06/2006 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...


So, no, says the president. We are staying in Iraq until we win. Great. But what is winning? What is the “victory” we are seeking?

On this, there is no consensus. That is why Americans have soured on Iraq. History proves that the American people have plenty of stomach for a hard fight, however long it takes, if they understand and believe in what we are fighting for. And this, consequently, is where history will condemn the Bush administration.

12/06/2006 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

One more good quote from that article:

On Iraq, the president decided his reelection meant he had already won the argument. But when you’re at war, and you’re the president, you’ve got to win the argument every day. If you’re not winning it, you’re losing it … and with it the public support essential to war-fighting.

12/06/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

> if the world's last remaining superpower can't even enforce its will in a divided and weak 7th Century craphole like Iraq,

If we are really trying to "enforce" our "will", then President Bush should say so and send in enough troops to do it. The next step would be to say that the elections are null and void, and that we'll shoot anyone who ever tries to vote, because what the Iraqis want doesn't matter, they will obey our "will". Perhaps we could say that Iraq is now the 51st state, just like Saddam Hussein declared Kuwait was a province of Iraq.

12/06/2006 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


re: time warp

(Guests) Let's do the Time Warp again.
Let's do the Time Warp again.

(Narrator) It's just a jump to the left.

(Guests) And then a step to the right.

(Narrator) With your hands on your hips.

(Guests) You bring you knees in tight.
But it's the pelvic thrust...
That really drives you insane
Let's do the Time Warp again.
Let's do the Time Warp again.
Let's do the Time Warp again

Soon, it's 1939 all over again.

12/06/2006 12:12:00 PM  

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