Thursday, January 11, 2007

Iraq Policy

Not that I expected to be surprised. The press has been bellowing everything in the speech for at least a week now. Just once I'd like to be surprised.

So the break down really comes to the surge to enforce security in Baghdad and increase activity in al-Anbar province. The Dems have essentially flipped out on this, as expected. So nothing new there. A lot of analysis in the MSM says that the increase is nothing new and has failed before. That has some accuracy, but in a very limited scope. First, all clear and hold operations have been the US military clearing and the Iraqi military holding. The change is that the US military will be used for prolongation of the holding as embedded units. That is different and should help the Iraqis get more experience and should also help logistics. Not mentioned anywhere that I can find is that this will also help ensure that areas being held aren't abused by sectarian divisions between the police/military and the populations.

Bush didn't mention the militias in his speech. I think this topic needs to be addressed, and it appears that the Iraqi government is starting to give notice. This looks to me like there will be a clash with the Mahdi Army. I question whether the present PM has the political muscle to bring them under control.
Iraq's prime minister has told Shiite militiamen to surrender their weapons or face an all-out assault, part of a commitment U.S. President George W. Bush outlined to bring violence under control with a more aggressive Iraqi Army and 21,500 additional American troops.

Senior Iraqi officials said Wednesday that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, under pressure from the U.S., has agreed to crack down on the fighters even though they are loyal to his most powerful political ally, the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Previously, al-Maliki had resisted the move.
al-Maliki has spoken similarly before, but has never actually backed that up. He has to decide whether he and the Democratically elected government is going to run the country or these rogue clerics. I'm not optimistic.

Other new tactics relate to jobs and the economy:
A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

Again, these all are very dependent on the Iraqi government's will. The Sunni areas must be assured at least a fair shake in these plans. Of course, they want the lion's share, but they also need to come to a realization that if this all fails they may be lucky to remain alive. I don't think this has been setting in strongly. It almost would be instructive to have them feel a little of what they could be up against if they don't come into the government. Not that that will happen, but those thinking that they will get anything like what they have had previous for power need to know their choices are fair to horrific.

Outside support from the middle eastern countries is also discussed.
We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. And on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region, to build support for Iraq and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.
He also discussed Iran and Syria in rather scathing terms. Appropriate in my view. At this point if it isn't clear to everyone that those two countries want US failure for their own hegemony, then no one is looking. I'd even state that talking with them at this point would be used against the US by giving them further propaganda fuel showing the US as weak and begging for help. After the past few president's failures to show any real spine when it comes to conflict, the propaganda value of keeping them out will work for the US. Especially within countries that are sitting on the fence or slightly favoring our stand.
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
I don't see much hope of stabilizing the region with Syria and especially Iran actively undermining stabilization processes. Iran's nuclear ambitions don't indicate any sign of any desire to get along with the rest of the countries in the area, not to mention the world.

Syria has already stood up and said there can be no peace.
Peace in the Middle East was an impossibility in light of US President George Bush's announcement to send more troops to Iraq, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara said on Thursday, according to a report on Israel Radio.

"There is no reason to expect that the peace process will be restarted without the clear commitment of the Americans," al-Shara said.

Again, this appears that they refuse to be part of the solution. I'm certain they would love to be a solution on their own terms, but that would completely fail to bring stabilization. It also brings up a question of how Syria and Saudi Arabia are going to deal with the Sunni weakness in Iraq. If the US fails, the sectarian battlefield could be more than just a localized civil war within Iraq. It could be a regional sectarian war within Iraq. This is part of the issue with those calling for withdrawal. They fail to perceive that the spread of instability will have profound regional effects which will then slowly cause global repercussions.

The political jousting started even before the speech. Pelosi and Reid made their ire well known.
Emerging from their afternoon meeting with Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said they felt they were not able to give input to the Bush plan.

Their meeting "was notification, not consultation," said Pelosi.

My visceral reaction to this was that they believed that they should have been giving permission to the President for his plan. Teddy-the-Tick Kennedy also put forward a similar sounding bite previously with expectations that the president should have to get congress' permission to send in more troops. Funny how they all ignore the constitution when it so suits them. It also is striking that the only alternative that the Dem leadership has come up with continues to be phased-cut-and-run.

It was also informative to see how many news hits one found on that quote. I only got three hits on the google-news search. I did see the quote on the TV media more, but the print press seems not to want to show that to the public.

I'm not optimistic. I think the strategic alterations of value, only I don't see it as probable that the US public will have sufficient patients to allow success. With the political screeching going on, I'm going to bet that the troop surge will be especially poorly received. The President really needs to push this plan to the public and counter the Dems whining with resolve. Sadly, this is something that Bush hasn't had much success with in the past.

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