After reading the column by David Ignatius in the WaPo (09 SEP 2007), there is only one phrase that comes immediately to mind, and that from Gen. Honore during Katrina:
Stuck on Stupid.There is much in the way of wishful thinking and much in the way of plain stupidity, not to mention good old fashioned ignorance that he has put out, so it is time to dispel some of that once and for all. Before going on, however, I will say that the fate of Iraq is more and more in the hands of Iraqis right where it should be. They have created a constitution, which we may criticize but it is for them to work their way with it. They have abided by the vote of the majority to accept that constitution, which is democracy at work. They have elected a common government, for good or ill, that is filled with newly minted POLITICIANS. And since they are newly minted they have no idea how to work this 'democracy' business, and are finding out that it is harder than a dictatorship! Yes, strong man rule is extremely easy - safeguarding freedom and liberty via democracy is like working in a slaughterhouse and making sausage and then getting to muck out the sewers to analyze the results. That is why it is the best system around: properly done it has input, process and feedback... maybe... someday... in America, too!
So first up: the vaunted troop reduction! Enough to give a Leftist shakes to think of a Republican President actually drawing down troops in a far off land. Be that as it may, do you know what will actually guide that decision? The folks putting their lives on the line as they report back day after day, week after week, and tell of the advances and difficulties seen on the ground. Right now things are going relatively well and the multiple insurgent organizations (al Qaeda in Iraq, Sadr's Mehdi Army, Iranian 'Secret Cells' and various criminal gangs) are getting put down, taken out or just hauled into the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. Rebuilding rates will also decide that, along with infrastructure projects. The Army Corps has an expected timeline for slowly replacing the entire electrical infrastructure of Iraq by 2012 with the majority of that paid by, yes, Iraqis. Those same insurgents may have figured out ways to thwart some security measures and stage a high level come-back. You never know with the billions of dollars Tehran has been throwing into terrorism. Time will tell.
Also, the second thing that will determine this? The Iraqi Army. Mr. Ignatius, further on, goes on to try and invalidate the Iraqi Army through the report that they will not be ready to take over things in 12-18 months at *least*. Do you know *why*? Whenever the amateurs talk tactics, like Mr. Ignatius, the professionals talk logistics, and it is that area that the Iraqi Army also needs to fully understand, comprehend, staff, train and pick up. This is an Army unready for fully autonomous work: it does not have the internal supply and logistics lines in place as of yet to fully work on their own.
Additionally their Officer Corps. does not have many individuals with a deep history of knowing how to run an Army well. They are getting some of the hardest, fastest, deadliest training on the planet that is killing them off at a high ratio compared to their US counterparts. What gets left, however, is a veteran, battle-hardened force that is no-nonsense and understands their job. As Iraqis learn to plough that into their training capability this makes the force self-sustaining and builds a competent Officer Corps. The metric for this is: how good is their Non-Commissioned Officer Corps? I examined the problems of creating an army before and that outlook still holds true. The type of question that one can ask on the Iraqi Army's progress is: How well are they doing at generating up a new Officer Corps that understands the nature of the force compared to the US drawdown once the draft was removed? It took the US, arguably, 15 years to recover from the draft and also change the structure and outlook of its forces. Those forces failed to even begin staging a hostage rescue attempt in 1979, and yet, by 1991, was fully ready to take to the field in Iraq.
So the Iraqi Army might take 12-18 months *more* to become autonomous enough to finally get its own supply systems down? This is a problem?
On the question of the integration of the Iraqi Army, I will point over to Michael Yon in Bless the Beasts and Children, Pt. 2. The IA 5ID is a trustworthy division, and I have heard similar of others, particularly 2ID. These are fully integrated units as the soldiers will attest to on the ground: Arabs, Kurds, Sunni, Shia, Yezidi, Turkomen, Assyrians... they are all IRAQIS FIRST. They have seen the slaughter of the innocents done by the insurgent terrorists, their units have been shifted around to give them a good taste of each of the insurgents, and 5ID was one of the first to stand up and these men are veterans who have seen what the killers in Iraq *do* to their children. THEIR CHILDREN.
Talking in lovely tones of 'soft separation', which Mr. Ignatius goes onto do, pointing to the vaunted wisdom of plagiarist Sen. Biden, is a paternal way of saying: 'You Iraqis don't really belong together.' Good job! Sounding colonialist, paternalistic and 'realistic' all at the same time! Just the sort of person that Osama bin Laden really rails against.
Instead the Iraqis have finally learned that the killers from outside allying with the ex-Ba'athist thugs and criminal elements actually *do* mean to kill or enslave Iraqis. So when he comes up with this lovely line, I really begin to wonder just which Iraq Mr. Ignatius is talking about:
If we agree with Petraeus that the tribal sheiks in Anbar and their U.S.-armed militias are the best hope in combating al-Qaeda, we have to accept that this will undermine the aspiration of training a national army that can unite Iraq's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Regional solutions, in the short run, are the enemy of national ones.Do you mean that if I find a good way to ensure children get taught locally that I have slowed up the teaching of children across the Nation?
Do you mean that if my town has a township police force that it has automatically invalidated the FBI?
Do you mean that if my State has a police force that it has automatically made supporting a National Army impossible?
Has Mr. Ignatius ever heard of the word: federalism? Because, apparently, he has no idea of the meaning of 'local government'. The fact is that thousands of Iraqis from Anbar have been signing up for: the Iraqi Army, local police and neighborhood watches. This does not sound like a set of folks wanting a 'soft partition' of Iraq. In fact it sounds like Mr. Ignatius is looking to some 'realism' in foreign policy, which I addressed in this article about the end of the Unreal 'Realists' and I will pick up just after listing all the known tribes of Iraq:
And as one may have noticed these tribes are geographically dispersed with sections and sub-sections all over the map, so to speak and that trying to find a way to 'Divide Iraq' has about as much chance as 'dividing a fruitcake into nuts, dough and fruit after it has been mixed and baked'. Further if one wishes to know a bit more about this wondrous 'Parting of the Tribes' based on ethnicity one can see from this map of genealogy that things are not that simple.Yes, that *includes* Sen. Biden. And, apparently, a good swath of the Democratic Party at this point, that cannot put partisan politics aside and do any analysis of Iraq and, instead, rely upon old tropes and wisdom passed down from the 'Realists'. Because they are offering the simplistic solution, that is glib and quick to pass the lips... not the simple one of building society, democracy and helping those trodden under tyrannical rule to stand up on their own and then decide for THEMSELVES what to do. That will take some time.
While one can discern some things that might lead an individual in one direction of thought, note that this is basic GENEALOGY, not permanent HOMELAND. And since the shortened listing will not really fit well into something short of 1m resolution imagery for all of Iraq, a simplified view of the major tribes may help, but realize that the actual boundaries of the tribes are like an actual boundary of a SNEEZE.
And then, after these Great and Wise Thinkers of All Wars Chilly put their Awesome Powers of Insight into this Matter, then perhaps the Rest of Us can leave them while They Take Tea and mull this over. Because an Iraq that is *not* Federal and that has *no* commonality of Government will Fly Apart and make the Balkans look like a Minor Familial Feud in the Appalachians. A mere Hatfields and McCoys compared to what will happen in Iraq. A failed Nation State scenario winds up with NO NATION there and the entirety of the Tribal System or lack of same holding full and absolute force as the only cohesive force LEFT if a Government fails. And as this is something that Iran and al Qaeda are set up to take full advantage of, they will DO SO. The Grand Road to Islamic Empire will be STARTED because the US was unwilling to tough out a minor back alley brawl or two, and would run out on its friends.
Realpolitik in running from Viet Nam got the World millions dead in South Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos all due to the fact that such an ongoing fight wasn't seen as 'worth it' to the American People. It is the great thinkers like those of Realpolitik that let the USSR go into Afghanistan because they had so denuded the Nation of ability that it could NOT block them. You may remember Afghanistan as it served as an incubator for the next great threat to Freedom, Liberty and Nations.
It helped CREATE a Non-Nation State Actor that cannot be directly gotten by the Great Wisdom of all of Realpolitik. If they could not stop al Qaeda from forming nor find a way to fight it THEN and that encouraged it to grow, what makes anyone think that running from Iraq will come to ANY GOOD END AT ALL?
Because these are the exact, self-same bozos that got us INTO THIS MESS and they have ZERO idea of how to clean it up.
It has been going over 60 years to get all the troops out of Japan and we *still* to this day have troops INSIDE Germany. And South Korea. And quite some few other places for long periods of time. Once we have finally helped to drive the killers out, helped to stand up an Army and also Air Force and brown water Navy, and given what aid is asked for to help get things running in Iraq at a level that Iraqis find acceptable, then we will, indeed, not be needed. Once they can control their own borders they will actually be ahead of the US on that score. If you want to see some real basket cases, look at Germany, still whimpering whenever we make any noises of relocating bases. Tell you what, lets pull out of Germany, free up our armed forces, give a longer rotation cycle to our troops and slowly get fresh troops into combat so they can understand what fighting terrorism is all about.
Someone has to do it. And I expect that the General and Ambassador will point the way forward from where we are to goals of a free Iraq able to make her own way in the world.
Congress is only barely holding on to supporting the Nation, at this point.
And not looking to find a way forward to success of liberty, freedom and democracy in what the Nation does is betrayal. We cannot run from this fight, not in Iraq nor anyplace. When America runs from her fights, liberty LOSES and tyranny WINS. Our political class used to understand that America is united in its stance overseas in foreign policy. That was true from the founding until the 1960's, and without it we now find ourselves in deadly danger of losing the meaning of both liberty and freedom. That was the fight handed to us by Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Paine... the Revolution did not end with the ending of the fighting then. I will not betray those who created this Nation by walking away from their views on mankind and the US.
Let us hope our clueless and incapable political class can remember that above mere partisanship.