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View Diary: CIA Expert to Bush/Cheney: "Get A Grip On Reality" of Iraq (220 comments)

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  •  great link (4.00)
    Thanks for bringing this item to our attention. There are a few parts of Johnson's analysis that need to be examined though.

    I don't know his views on the dissolution of the old Iraqi security forces after the fall of Baghdad, but it should be noted that the Sunni components of the recomposed Iraqi security forces are both sparse and thoroughly compromised by their associations with the Sunni insurgency. The April 2004 Fallujah arrangement is a good example of this.

    The post-Baath Iraq, once the US was forced onto the democratic track, has by definition propelled the Shia into the ascendancy. It is unsurprising that the bulk of the Iraqi security forces that are being called on to police and provide security are drawn from that community. They do, after all, have a stake in power.

    Given the sectarian nature of parts of the violence in Iraq, and the manifest US failure to stem it, it is unsurprising that the convergence of Shia interests has resulted in the cooperation of Iranian and Iraqi actors on the ground. The US military has been spectacularly inept: whilst Iranian-backed hit squads may be brutal and nasty, they tend to a greater precision in their activities ( thanks to superior intelligence ) than the indiscriminate use of helicopter gunships, ground-attack aircraft and large-scale marine assaults.

    Whilst noting the pitfalls of sending Shia to police Sunnis, there's little appreciation that it was the US policing Sunnis that initiated the problems in the first place.

    What I take issue with most of all is the notion that the US has allies who are fighting with it in Iraq. This almost unconscious assumption that the current government is somehow signed up to the US project in Iraq and it strategic goals is flawed, and per recent events, demonstrably wrong. Johnson is writing from within the confines of the US narcissistic prism, that sees the US as history's actor writing it's destiny on, quite literally, the canvass of other people's willing bodies. I do not believe this to be the case: my best guess is that the current disposers of power in Iraq consider the US military and the incompetents in the administration who wield its power to be useful idiots.

    They, the Iraqi Shia and their allies, have their own destiny to write and are playing their cards close to their chest as they write it. But make no mistake, they have strategic goals of their own and are well-positioned to advance them. Perhaps I'm pre-empting his sequel on the emergence of a second Shia power in the region so I will say no more.

    Sometimes my enemy's enemy is also my enemy, and it is the smart policy to let my enemies kill each other for me; a nudge here and there often help the process along.

    •  Excellent .. (none)
      I didn't agree with all he wrote either.  For one thing, he seems to be of the mind that more U.S. troops will help.... that I'm not sure of, particularly since, as Juan Cole points out this morning, tiwce as many Iraqis have been killed by U.S. troops as by the insurgents.

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 09:06:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm (none)
      The flaw in your reasoning is the Shia need those 150,000 US soldiers to keep them from getting killed by the Ba'athists.

      I think that the US controls the Shia more than you acknowledge.

      The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

      by Armando on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 11:00:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  questions of calibration (none)
        I think that there's an interesting tightrope being walked. I have no doubts, though, that a central - and popular - plank of the Iraqi Shia platform is the removal of US forces from Iraq.

        The question will be at what point and under what circumstances they decide to do that. In the end, I think it comes down to a judgement of how you calibrate the violence in Baghdad and the Sunni West and North between anti-occupation and nakedly sectarian. This is tough to call.

        I can't speak to local judgements on this. But, if you reckoned that the end of occupation would lead to a 50% reduction in violence plus the possibility of bringing a significant section of the Sunni population into the national dialogue, then it would be an interesting calculation. At what point this calculation gets made is another matter. My guess is that we'll find out in the next 12-18 months.

        It's also noteworthy that the bulk of the violence occurs where the US happens to be. The 9 Shia provinces of the South are lightly patrolled by small coalition contingents, and simply not gripped by the endless, endemic violence found elsewhere. Either the local Shia security apparatus is shit-hot, or there are other variables at play - the most glaring being the collision of US occupation with a hostile population.

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