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Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

A new millstone-140 dead after the war

Today, the 140th soldier was killed in Iraq. This is two more than died duing the first part of the war.

Some would call it a milestone, but it's more burden than anything else.

As the Congress debates the magic fairy troop solution, the realities on the ground are grim and getting grimmer by the day.

In a report by CSIS's Tony Cordesman, he outlines the issues:

There are some “stupid mission tricks” the United States and its allies should avoid:

Trying to block infiltration is fine and necessary, but no one who knows Iraq can talk seriously about securing its borders. Iraq’s borders are too long, too diverse, and open to infiltration by anyone or any group willing to move in as a civilian. Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Iran all have areas where it would take vast manpower to cover the border as a whole, and in every case, terrorist cadres could come in as civilians into a nation with arms over the entire area.

* Don’t make Islam the issue: One of the keys to dealing with religious extremism is to be extremely careful not to attack Islam and confuse small elements of extremists with a religion and a culture. Careless references to terrorism, Islamists, etc. will compound the already serious problems the United States faces in alienating the Islamic and Arab world.

* Don’t create problems with the Shi’ites: The present war is likely to be lost or won on the basis of whether the Iraqi Shi’ites join in. The outside Iraqi opposition cannot do this; and the United States must be ready to deal with Iraqi clerics. The United States should be careful not to move more of its own troops into sensitive areas without a clear cause or see allied troops come in.

* Use both sticks and carrots in dealing with Iran: The United States needs to find some modus vivendi that minimizes action from Iran. This is an area where the British and Europe might well take the lead.

* Don’t tolerate quiet ethnic cleansing in the north: The United States cannot afford to have the Kurds alienate more Sunnis and the Turkomans.

* Rush the Iraqis forward wherever possible: The good may be the enemy of the acceptable. Winning hearts and minds means putting Iraqis in charge as fast as possible even at the cost of political compromises and problems in efficiency. Giving the Iraqis the Iraq they want and can build is the goal, not meeting our objectives.

* Take a hardline on Syria but a focused one: The United States cannot afford to get involved in Israel’s priorities; it has its own. It should focus on blocking Syrian support of Iraqi and volunteer hostile elements, and not allow itself to be diverted over issues like the Hezbollah and Lebanon.

* Remember regional allies like Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait: It is far too easy to forget the role local powers can play in limiting infiltration, in providing intelligence and aid, and in helping to deal with Iraq’s ethnic issues. This means hard bargaining with Turkey, and trying to rebuild working relations with Saudi Arabia.

* Don’t overreact in terms of force protection and casualties: Hard as it may be, accept the fact that some casualties are the price of keeping the right profile, interacting with Iraqis, and moving nation building forward. The primary mission is not force protection, and everyone has to understand this.

Of course this all makes sense. Everything he's written since last winter has made sense.

The odds are high that this will be ignored.

posted by Steve @ 12:28:00 PM

12:28:00 PM

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