Carol Platt Liebau: The <i>Real</i> Battle of Iraq

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Real Battle of Iraq

Discussing the impact of General Petraeus' appearance on Capitol Hill, Charles Krauthammer hits the nail squarely on the head:

His testimony, steady and forthright, bought him the time to achieve his "realistic chance" of success. Not the unified, democratic Iraq we had hoped for the day Saddam Hussein's statue came down, but a radically decentralized Iraq with enough regional autonomy and self-sufficiency to produce a tolerable stalemated coexistence between contending forces.

That's for the longer term and still quite problematic. In the shorter term, however, there is a realistic chance of achieving a separate success that, within the context of Iraq, is of a second order but in the global context is of the highest order -- the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Having poisoned one country and been expelled from it (Afghanistan), al-Qaeda seized upon post-Hussein instability to establish itself in the very heart of the Arab Middle East -- Sunni Iraq. Yet now, in front of all the world, Iraq's Sunnis are, to use the biblical phrase, vomiting out al-Qaeda. This is a defeat and humiliation in the extreme -- an Arab Muslim population rejecting al-Qaeda so violently that it allies itself in battle with the infidel, the foreigner, the occupier.


Humiliating, indeed.

4 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

"Yet now, in front of all the world, Iraq's Sunnis are, to use the biblical phrase, vomiting out al-Qaeda."

GREAT LINE!

8:38 AM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

Since there are no strategic plans coming from the Decider, we will have to rely on faith and hope. Let us also hope that the next President will not be so cavalier about trading American troop deaths for Iraqi fat cat vacations.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

It's good to see commentary rational enough to admit that the goal of a unified, democratic Iraq was a phantasm. The big question is, what outcomes are feasible? Mr. Krauthammer believes in the possibility of attaining "a radically decentralized Iraq with enough regional autonomy and self-sufficiency to produce a tolerable stalemated coexistence between contending forces."

I won't rule out this possibility, but I am not at all optimistic that it can be achieved. There are four monumental obstacles to achieving it:

1. The Shia majority. Why should they accept anything less than full control when they are in fact the majority? They've got a lot of resentment over how the Sunnis lorded it over them for decades -- now they'd very much like to do a little lording themselves. They've got the brute strength to win this -- why should they compromise with the Kurds and the Sunnis?

2. The mixing of the population. While it is true that there are identifiable Kurdish, Shia, and Sunni regions, most of the big cities are mixed in population. And who gets Baghdad? The Sunnis would naturally claim it for themselves, but are the Shias really going to walk away from the historic capital of Mesopotamia when they're the majority?

3. The Turks. They have made it clear that they will not under any circumstances tolerate a separate Kurdish state. They will invade if that happens. The balancing act here is very, very delicate; our chances of finding the right balance are tiny.

4. The Iranians. They want a friendly Shia regime in charge in Iraq, and they can easily supply the weapons, training, and assistance to make that happen. This is a huge opportunity for them to prove the impotence of the USA, and they are not going to let this opportunity slip away.

Put all these pieces together and the only stable outcome I see is a Shia central government that oppresses both the Sunnis and the Kurds. It will be less radically Islamist than the Iranian government (the Iraqis are themselves more secular than the Iranians), but it will still be the worst possible outcome in US eyes.

I don't really see anything we can do to prevent this other than permanent occupation or a massive increase in troop levels to stamp out all resistance and install a friendly government. Neither of these two strategies will enjoy domestic American political support. To it appears that the final outcome will be a Shia government in Iraq.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Duke-Stir said...

"Having poisoned one country and been expelled from it (Afghanistan)..."

Ludicrous. Unless, of course, you wish to split hairs and disregard the nebulous region beyond Tora Bora to which Bin Laden and countless others were allowed to escape by President Cut n' Run. (And what of the resurgent Taliban?)

"...al-Qaeda seized upon post-Hussein instability to establish itself in the very heart of the Arab Middle East -- Sunni Iraq."

Well at least ONE neoCON has come forth with the right answer to the chicken-or-the-egg question.

Meanwhile, most of America snoozes and accepts everything that comes out of the mouths of this incompetent cabal and their enablers.

2:19 PM  

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