Monday, September 03, 2007

Bush in Anbar

President Bush passed Anbar province on his way to the APEC meeting in Australia.

During six hours on the ground, the President met General Petraeus and other military commanders and Mr Crocker before holding a session with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and members of his central government.

Later, Mr Bush met Sunni tribal leaders who have recently ceased insurgent activities and joined the US in the fight against al-Qaeda.

The administration has repeatedly pointed to the success it is having at the local level in some provinces, such as Anbar, in forging a political reconciliation even though co-operation at the national level has proved much more difficult.

Ironically, the President's trip is a symbol of how much better grassroots efforts are working than those directed at the top -- the politicians in Baghdad. The implications of this undigested lesson have not yet affected the debate in Washington, where people still think in terms of "exit strategies", invasions of Syria and Iran or in grand diplomatic bargains with regional actors in the Middle East. It would be unfortunate if both sides of the ideological divide failed to take heed of the lessons -- not the preconceived lessons -- gained at such cost in the war against terrorism. One of these, but not the only one, is the importance of political warfighting capabilities at the grassroots level. Others, such as the key role played by information warfare, achieve but passing mention in a capital often obsessed with its own talking points.


Blogger Arthur Dent said...

I read that former President Carter believes John Edwards is the best candidate for 2008.

9/03/2007 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger PiltdownMan said...

Can you imagine John Edwards hunkering down with former insurgent Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province?

9/03/2007 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Grass roots information warfare is what a some blogs are all about. You're an IO Warlord,wretchard.

The C-in-C is not noted for his strategic communications expertise, but landing at Al Asad, Iraq was a master stroke.

9/03/2007 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Ticker said...

IO warlord, eh? Maybe I can get involved in one of these Mongolian military exercises that Pacific Command participates in. If you look at the video, it's just the thing any warlord will want.

9/03/2007 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Grim said...

Quite right, Wretchard.

9/03/2007 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

IF the grassroots thing is working so well in Iraq, is it transferrable to, say, Afghanistan?

If Bush opens direct communications with the tribal sheikhs, doesn't that seriously de-loop Maliki? Like, if Maliki isn't performing and can't meet his timelines, why do we (or they) need him any more. Just have the grassroots call a new election.

Although the grassroots that Bush is meeting with right now are Sunni, I think, and they're still numerically outnumbered.

9/03/2007 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


Old Iraq i.e. Saddam's Iraq was top down driven and what we are working to establish a bottom up Iraq. Why on earth we expect the pols at the top to work together when the various bases in Iraq are blowing each other up is crazy. Fortunately, a force/diplomacy/political solution more suited to bottoms up construction is now in effect and appears to be working well.

9/04/2007 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger saoirse said...

Ironically, the President's trip is a symbol of how much better grassroots efforts are working than those directed at the top -- the politicians in Baghdad.

Note that the grassroots level equals the Military...the national equals the diplomats. ;-)

9/04/2007 09:34:00 AM  

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