Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Surging Violence in Iraq

Hi Everyone,

This is hardly "breaking news" but that's not really the forte of opinion blogs like this anyway.

I have some comments about the brief battle between the Iraqi government and the Medhi Army loyal to Ayatollah Al Sadr.

First, the fact that the battle was initiated by the Iraqi army on its own has a good news/bad news aspect to it. On the one hand, it suggests that the military preparedness of the Iraqi military has finally started to improve. And one thing that an emerging democracy absolutely must do is prove it can defend itself against armed anti-regime elements. This was the great failing of the Weimar Republic in Germany.

On the other hand, the way this latest battle played out raises some serious questions. It was widely reported that the Iraqi military is itself heavily penetrated by a primarily Shia militia that sees Sadr's militia as a rival for power in Shia areas. So it is not entirely clear that that we were watching the Iraqi government asserting itself rather than a battle between two armed political parties one of which happens to be in the government at the moment. Furthermore, it rapidly became clear that the Iraqi army could not win without the support of US forces and our folks were brought into the fight within days of it's beginning.

Second, the fight concluded when Sadr agreed to go back to a cease fire (essentially a return to the "status quo antebellum"). Guess who was instrumental in brokering the cease fire...Iran! It was our military that was called upon (again) to settle the fighting but it was Iran that is was needed to be the trusted arbitrator between the beligerants.

The Bush administration and their supporters (like McCain) are putting a very positive spin on this. But it's far from clear that this was a good sign at all. It might be but it could be a sign of some really nasty complications in the ongoing Iraqi civil war.

What do you all think?


History Buff said...

I was not for the war, but based on the information I had at the time I felt that there were just too many unknowns with Iraq to leave Saddam in power. I agree with Hillary Clinton that it was a very tough decision and I'm glad I didn't have to make it.

That being said, I don't think that it is practical right now to leave Iraq. A precipitous withdrawal, besides being logistically impossible, would lead to a Somalia situation.

If Hillary and Barrack are as pragmatic as you all say, then I think they will realize once in office that they cannot fully with draw the troops. I think force reduction is their only option.

Pombat said...

One thing's for sure, whoever the next US president is, they're going to have to work damned hard to 'spin' the invasion of Iraq to convince all of the Iraqi people that the US always saw it in fact as a liberation.

At the moment, Iran is seen as more neutral & friendly (a contradiction in military terms I know) by Iraq than the 'conquering' US army. And that's a massive worry.

Raised By Republicans said...

History Buff,

Here is my take on the war. The Somalia situation you describe is the likely outcome as soon as we leave - whether that departure is rapid or not. I have seen quite a lot of research on civil wars and how a third party intervention influences them (this is the situation in Iraq now). The evidence seems to show that a third party intervener can put a civil war on hold but until either the underlying causes go away or the warring sides fight themselve to such a state of exhaustion that they'll prefer compromise to continued war. The first path is not likely given that Iraq continues to be ethnically divided and totally dependent on a single economic activity - oil. The second option won't happen so long as the US military stands between the two warring sides or (as in the case in this recent violence) takes a side to impose a short term military victory that will only persist so long as our troops are there to enforce it.

As soon as our troops leave whether that is tomorrow or 10 years from now, all hell will break loose. The only question facing the US is whether we spend 10 years, thousands of lives and trillions of dollars putting that inevitable outcome off.

History Buff said...

I guess no matter what, we're screwed.

Raised By Republicans said...

Yeah, pretty much. The question, from my perspective, is "how much are we going to pay for it before it happens?"

This is why nearly every political scientist of any reputation was saying that invading Iraq in the first place would be a HUGE mistake. But Bush got a lot of people fooled.

I do think it is important for those who opposed this war to have an "I told you so" moment. It's the only way the nationalist fervor types will learn.