Let's cut the bullshit
The Ambassador would be dead without his
ex-Operators. He cannot move five feet in Iraq
The Beltway Retreat
The insurgents are hitting their targets--in Washington.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
We need to be realist but not defeatist. We need to understand that there is a need of utmost urgency to deal with many of the problems of Iraq but we must not give in to panic.
So said Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih on Monday, in a BBC interview while in London for talks with Tony Blair. If only such statesmanship prevailed on this side of the Atlantic, where election politics and a spate of critical new books have combined to paint an increasingly desperate--and false--picture of what's happening in Iraq.
As the critics describe it, all of Iraq is in chaos, its new government isn't functioning, the U.S. is helpless to act against these inexorable forces, and it is only a matter of time before we must pack up and leave in abject defeat. "We're on the verge of chaos, and the current plan is not working," declares Senator Lindsey Graham, in one of the purer expressions of this elite inconstancy. Just what Mr. Graham would do about this, he doesn't say; but in the land of blind panic, the sound-bite Senator is king.
Yes, the Iraq project is difficult, and its outcome dangerously uncertain. The Bush Administration and its military generals have so far failed to stem insurgent attacks or pacify Baghdad, and the factions comprising Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government have so far failed to make essential political compromises. But the American response to this should be to change military tactics or deployments until they do succeed, and to reassure Iraqi leaders that their hard political choices will result in U.S. support, not precipitous withdrawal.
The current American panic, by contrast, is precisely what the insurgents intend with their surge of October violence. The Baathists and Sadrists can read the U.S. political calendar, and they'd like nothing better than to feed the perception that the violence is intractable. They want our election to be perceived as a referendum on Iraq that will speed the pace of American withdrawal
A measure of rationality at least came yesterday out of Baghdad, where General George Casey and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad tried to put the violence in some larger context. The Iraq government is in fact "functioning," as Iraqis continue to get their food rations, and as more than a million civil servants, Iraqi security force members and teachers continue to show up for work every day and get paid. Just this weekend, Iraq's oil minister announced that production had surpassed pre-war levels.
"Economically, I see an Iraq every day that I do not think the American people know about--where cell phones and satellite dishes, once forbidden, are now common, where economic reform takes place on a regular basis, where agricultural production is rising dramatically, and where the overall economy and the consumer sector is growing," said Mr. Khalilzad, who for this attempt at hopeful realism will be derided in some quarters as a Pollyanna
But the political truth is that none of this will happen any sooner if Americans look like they are heading for the exits. Timetables and deadlines may sound like realpolitik, but they only feed suspicions that the U.S. will abandon Iraq's leaders once they have walked out onto a political limb. Iraq is not yet in a state of "civil war," and it has a functioning, if imperfect, government. If changes of tactics or force levels are needed, by all means make them. But what Iraqis most need from Washington is reassurance of support for the tough decisions and battles that lie ahead
There is no Iraqi government
There is no Iraqi Army
There is no Iraqi police force.
There are people playing at them, but for the most part, the government is inefficient, crooked and rarely in Iraq.
The Army fights, mostly against their ethnic enemies, when they choose
The Police are the hardest working men in Iraq. Ignoring death squads by day, joining them at night.
But in no way does this create a government.
It is easy to sit in an office in New York and say other people must continue to struggle, but all Iraqis did was elect their militia leaders to office. Maliki is a tool of the Shia militias. Asking him to disband them is like asking Uncle Junior to get Tony to quit the Mafia. He has no power to do that, no matter how many fictional deadlines are being presented by Washington.
Maliki does a good job staying alive. But he has no power. The power is in the streets and even Sadr can't control all his people, nor the Badr Organization. So they can talk about deadlines in the same way high school virgins talk about sex. Doesn't mean they can make it happen unless someone wants to make it happen. And no one wants that.
There is going to be one winner here, and it's between the Sadrs and the Hakims and the Sadrs have the bodies and the respect. All this talk about disbanding the militias and standing up is as real as Army Group Steiner. It isn't going to happen, not unles Moqtada Sadr is president of Iraq.
posted by Steve @ 2:30:00 AM