Why Iraq is not working
Take a good look. As soon as Blair is forced from office, these members of the Paras will be going home
This will be short and painless. Print it out and hand it to your few remaining friends who support the war.
1) There is no internal political support for either the IGC or the UN version of an occupational government
The UN rep picking the new head of Vichy Iraq was enraged when someone from the GOPCPA leaked his name. The guy, realizing that the resistance would kill him like a dog via car bomb, promptly refused the job. The fact is that the only representative Iraqi leadership are religious leaders. Brahimi wanted to pick a technocrat, but no matter how you say it, it's still spelled P-e-t-a-i-n, and we all know how he wound up. Not that it matters. Without a heads up from Sistani and the Sunni clerics, the guy is going to be killed by the resistance, Al Qaeda or the US (by accident, of course)
The Kurds, with 20 percent of the population, are now demanding the Presidency or Vice Presidency, which is sure to send Sadr and his Sunni allies into a rage. The Kurds took part in the fighting at Fallujah, and many, many Iraqis are none to happy with their countrymen.
2) Splitting Iraq is vastly unpopular with most Iraqis
While Peter Galbraith has been running around on the behest of his Kurdish allies, calling for "a loose confederation", which would let the Kurds destroy the territorial integrity of Iraq, while doing their own thing (smuggling, disrupting neighboring nations), Phebe Marr, one of the few actual Iraq historians in the US, gave him the smackdown on Nightline last week. The simple fact is that the Kurds will face a massive Turkish invasion if they get what they want. They also forget how ALL Iraqis opposed the Turks joining the occupation force.
This new "splitting Iraq" meme is really based in an ignorance of Iraq's economy. Without access to the income from the southern oil fields, the rest of Iraq will go bankrupt. You can't leave the Sunnis without income and splitting Iraq would turn it into a Middle Bank, with poor people with guns fighting their neighbors.
Besides the fact that it would be a violation of international law, it's just a very stupid idea based on our perceptions of Iraq and not reality.
3) Our allies are not coming to help us
As the German Ambassador to the US said so plainly on CNN, how would NATO help the occupation? The Iraqis will kill Germans just like they kill Poles, British and until recently, the Spanish. There is no clamor for NATO to occupy Iraq.Iraqs aren;t s aying, Germany save us. Besides, there aren;t the votes to deploy troop[s in these Parliaments. International occupation is just adding targets for the resistance.
4)The iraqis have made a choice:to undermine the occupation
The fact is that anyone working for the occupation faces intimidation or death. This isn't the consensus of a few people, but widely supported by average Iraqis. Someone has to be talking to the resistance. That resistance is widespread, with people in every corner of the GOPCPA. One of the fundamental mistakes of the US was to assume, despite all available evidence, Iraqis supported the occupation. SIistani could have sent thousands into the police and military with one word. So when Bush says "the Iraqis have to stand for freedom" he ignores the reality that most Iraqis are content to watch Americans die without lifting a finger to help.
5) Reconstruction is a corrupt, poorly managed nightmare
The GOPCPA cannot maintain anything in Iraq. Instead of hiring reconstruction experts from NGO's, they hired from the Heritage Foundation's reject list. People who were ideologically sound were hired over the competant and trained. People like Michael Ledeen's daughter, Simone, were given the task of rebuilding Iraq's economy. Imagine the reaction of highly educated, Harvard, Oxford and Sorbonne trained Iraqi economists, when they could get into the Green Zone, dealing with these idiot children. By sending the pure, loyal and untrained, they told the Iraqis they were not serious people. The neocons were allowed to turn Iraq into their playground, and test their wacky theories. Meanwhile Iraqi oil facilities have been attacked 54 times since the occupation started.
Rumors of overcharging and kickback litter the news on a near daily basis. Halliburton has been accused of running empty trailers to get paid from the US government. Even so, the lack of security which is endemic in Iraq makes reconstruction a nightmare.
6) No security means nothing can get done
Even reporters have to travel with "security consultants" to do their stories. Baghdad is effectively cut off from the rest of the country. The road net is insecure and remains that way, at best. The fact is that the US doesn't have the troops to secure the roads, and will not get any. This is the kind of job our Pakistani auxillaries would have done, but since their intervention would immediately launch a civil war in Pakistan, it's not going to happen. We're about to send two training units to Iraq, we're so short of troops. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the OPFOR unit at Ft. Irwin, is being sent to Iraq. Now, you don't have to be a nuclear physicist or a military strategist to see how dangerous this is. The 11th ACR is the unit other units need to train in combat proficiency. Sending them to Iraq is a sign of pure desperation. Other units cannot train effectively if the 11th ACR is in Iraq, hunting guerrillas.
The US's reliance on Iraqi security forces is really a reliance on a force which will ultimately fail. They have no commitment to the government and no support within the wider community. We can Iraqimize the force, but if Sistani issues a fatwa, who do you think they will support? The US and Iraqi Vichy governments? Or their clerics?
In short, Bush's strategy is failing, and none of this relies on the abject hatred caused by our actions at Abu Ghraib. That just makes any US plan in Iraq unsustainable. The IGC hasn't been asking questions about kicking US forces out of Iraq for their health. No Iraqi government could ever be considered legitimate if it allowed the US to establish bases there. That's a political non-starter as much as shipping oil to Haifa. The Army thinks they'll be there five year, but in reality, five months is a stretch. We don't have the men and NATO is going to decline to lend us a hand, no matter what they say in Congress. The US has to leave Iraq at some point and that point will be sooner rather than later. We are at the early stages of the Abu Ghraib scandal and in the end, it will so discredit US policy that we'll have to flee the country.
posted by Steve @ 6:43:00 AM