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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Iraq: The "R" word 


The purpose of the surge was to create sufficient security, broadly defined, so that the government of Iraq could develop the capability to police the territory under its control. One of the measures of that capability is political "reconciliation," a future state of affairs that has achieved totemic significance in the political debate within the United States. Without "reconciliation," Democrats maintain, the surge will not have succeeded.

Not surprisingly, most journalists covering Iraq strain themselves to avoid using the "R" word, or implying that it is happening now. Also not surprisingly, supporters of continued American military involvement in Iraq, including me, argue that Iraqis are reconciling, even if it is not taking the precise legislative form demanded by the leaders of the United States Congress. So, for example, I would regard the news that Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi "army" is extending its cease fire for another six months as evidence of reconciliation. Why? Because al-Sadr is only extending his cease fire because the political circumstances demand it. Bill Roggio:

While the reporting has focused on the negative implications the US and the Iraqi government if Sadr ended the cease-fire, Sadr himself had his own problems if the truce was ended. After Sadr's political movement withdrew from the government in early 2007, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki had a greater freedom of movement to tackle Sadr and his Mahdi Army. Since then, the Iraqi military has repositioned itself to take on the Mahdi Army in the south....

By calling off the cease-fire, Sadr risked reigniting the violence in Iraq, which has dropped dramatically since last summer. Sadr risked alienating Iraqis as well as exposing his real level of support in the Shia community.

Point is, the Sadrists may not be "reconciled," but other Iraqis are to such a degree that al-Sadr will isolate himself if he does not go along. Iraqi Shiites no longer need al-Sadr's protection because of the surge and the success of the Awakening Movement against the Sunni jihadis; they will reject him politically if he imperils the first real peace they have had in least four years. If that is not reconciliation, I do not know what is.

CWCID: Tottenpundit.

7 Comments:

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Thu Feb 21, 11:11:00 PM:

Reconciliation? Isn't what's going mere bribery? Hey, give me and my militia boys some American taxpayer cash to keep the peace? Some of these gangs (and that's what they are) are led by clowns who were officers in Saddam's security forces. The rest are mullahs who say the darnest things behind closed doors about the U.S.
This is an insane state of affairs. it cannot last forever. Let's get out of there before these loonies decide the bribe money ain't cutting it anymore...  

By Blogger Georg Felis, at Fri Feb 22, 08:15:00 AM:

Is it a cease-fire when you say "Please don't shoot"?

One of the hardest tasks we are having in Iraq is moving dispute resolution from shooting to talking. The key to this move is convincing people that shooting will only make you lose. So far it appears that Al-Sadr is learning this lesson. How well is to be seen.  

By Blogger tyreea, at Fri Feb 22, 10:36:00 AM:

Good news indeed.
My father-in-law was in Japan with the U.S. Marine 3rd Division after the WWII. Rebuilding that country and implementing an entirely new constitutional government took a long time. Decades later our countries compete on the baseball field and in automobile sales. We can do the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 22, 07:22:00 PM:

... so, the US is literally bribing al-Sadr to maintain a ceasefire? With cash? How much? Where does it go? And how do you know that?

And how do you know what these 'mullahs' say behind closed doors? Were you there? How many were there? Where did you learn Arabic?

Are you a spy? Or just a know it all?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 22, 08:35:00 PM:

Mr. Chambers' plea that we "get out of there", like all others, is now increasingly desperate and pathetic. I guess it's pretty humiliating standing there stark naked while events prove you to have been not only wrong - dead wrong - but cynical and craven, ain't it?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 22, 09:39:00 PM:

This argument, like many others about the "Iraq War", has many implied assumptions, but few real- world facts, simply because very few of us (including myself) have the information to base a valid judgement on what is actually going on "over there".
Living in Ohio, I am now getting blanketed by Obama for President TV and radio adds. One in particular has BHO exorting the crowd on hot button issues, such as "Ending this War!". Loud cheers.

Well, we can certainly end our involvement in Iraq, but as far as the "ending this war", I'm not so certain. I'm sure that "smart diplomacy" will solve many of the problems with Iran, et.al., as we bargain with Ahminedijehad (whatever) and the Mullahs over when they can nuke Israel, how much of Lebanon Hezbollah can control, etc.
But just as James Earl Carter was somewhat bamboozled by the Mullahs and their agents, plus bad advice from Zbigdeal Brzinski (hey! where is he now?) among others, and the consequences of that misjudgment are apparently STILL with us, I'm not sure if "End this war now!" as an edict of policy are completely grounded in reality.

But time will tell, I guess.

-David  

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