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August 23, 2007

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I read Bush's "Vietnam" speech as a concession that a majority of US citizens have irrevocably given up on the war, and now he is setting up a "who lost Iraq" talking point for the neocons.

He is trying to frame the ultimate post-pullout disaster as a "who didn't try hard enough to avoid the consequences" discussion, to re-frame the discussion away from "what idiot thought this was a good idea and that we would be greeted as liberators?"

Like cockroaches, Republicans survive, survive, survive....

Someone via email just pointed out that we've got NATO treaty obligations to Turkey.

Which means if Turkey can manufacture the appearance of an attack by Kurdistan, then we've got to help Turkey, against the Kurds. It is not inconceivable--it's likely, even--that Iran would get involved.

Voila, you've got a regional war between NATO and Iran.

So yeah, we've lost, but we're getting close to a solution that's precisley what DIck Cheney would like.

In theory, sowing division amongst your opponents is good counter-insurgency strategy, even to the point of arming one faction against another. Unfortunately, this looks like U.S. policymakers taking a short-term, local tactical success and turning it into a strategic blunder. We're going to take Cheney's obsession with Iran and this bit of business and use it as an excuse to install a secular Sunni dictator which is obviously a big improvement over that secular Sunni dictator we overthrew.

I don't suppose that any of the Very Serious People (does Atrios have that phrase trademarked?) are going to point out that while everybody is fretting over those "tribal areas" in Pakistan, we're about to recreate them in Iraq.

Albert -- I would ordinarily think it's unlikely that Bush is trying to benefit long-term Republican prospects, since he has repeatedly shown that he doesn't care about anyone but himself. However, it is certainly telling that the speech marks the departure of the advisor who shared that purely selfish point of view (Rove), and from all accounts was the result of heavy influence from Ed Gillespie, who is a former chair of the RNC and most likely doesn't.

Bush's apologists regale him for his decisiveness - I find arming both sides of a civil war pretty ambivalent.

As heinous as it is, given the US agression that's brought us to this point, as radical as it sounds, and as desperate as it seems, there is a historical reality inherent in such a split as you discuss. And, notwithstanding the row between the Kurds and Turks inside Turkey (and the "danger" of giving the Kurds over the border both autonomy and oil), there is a good chance that division would end up looking like a "practical" and feasible solution to the quandry/quagmire the Iraquis now face. Iraq, after all, is an invented nation, the product of racist, imperialist, colonial powers. It has always been 'divided' amongst Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shiite Arabs, with the Shia being the majority. Part of the fuel for the sectarian violence has to be the fear among Sunni Arabs that the majority Shia will make them a permanent underclass, with no access to the oil wealth that lies beneath the sands they inhabit. And, although a tripartite division would rile both the Turks and the Americans (because it would mean ceding more power to the Iranians), it would at least represent a workable division of the wealth of this invented country. And despite the friction it would create along the Turkish border, it should satisfy even the most distrustful of Iraqui factions. The Shia have traditionally lived in the southern and easter portions of the 'country'. Whether as an autonomous nation or as a province of Iran, those same Shia would get along quite well with access to the Gulf of Arabia and a goodly quantity of oil from which to profit. The Kurds, too, will have their oil, whether autonomous, a union of seccessionist Turkish and formerly Iraqui Kurds, or as an appendage of Turkey. Which leaves the Sunnis. Well, as fretful as they are about their present lack of access to oil, the sands of western Iraq, historically the homeland of the Sunni Arabs, rest upon one of the largest untapped oil reserves in the world. So, whether autonomous, or a part of an expanded Saudi Kingdom, the sunnis will have their oil. It is to the shame of every European and ex-colonial of European descent that the world encompasssing Iraq is at present so riven with hatred, distrust, radicalism and internecine violence. Had it not been for the European imperialist powers, whose power began to wane precipitously in the 1950s and 60s, we would not be in Iraq. There would not be a Palestinian 'problem', no corrupt, arrogant bedouin "Kings" of the Arabian Peninsula or of Jordan, nor a Baathist regime in Syria, nor Hezbollah in Lebanon, nor Hamas in Gaza. The negotiation of a comprehensive, fair partitioning of "Iraq" might indeed be a beginning of the redress that Europe and the rich, first world, owe the people of the desert.

Redshift:

I agree Bush has no long-term view. I think he is setting up the long-term neocon talking point because they are his last remaining constituency with any real money, and it is what they want.

So they have a long-term view, and he gets their near term support promoting it.

We have been working qwith Sunni insurgents--that's been discussed for the last few months. Selected insurgents, to be sure, but Sunni "former" insurgents nonetheless. That's what accounts for the much-heralded successes in Anbar province and I believe another province (Diyala?) that we hear about when folks come back from the Iraq dog and pony show.

Of course, this military success is limited, and there's no guarantee that if the foreign salafis could be driven out that the Sunni insurgents would not turn on the Shi'a, or us, but as a short term strategy it is pacifying some areas, evidently. This may have been done at the behest of, or in cooperation with, or in lieu of, the Saudis, but that's not at all clear.

But the real problem is getting some sort of functioning central government, and, as you say, that is as elusive as ever, and nothing we do on the ground seems to overcome the centrifugal forces in the country. The failure to provide minimal services means that the local parties and tribes and militias try to do what they can. The country is really disintegrating.

Which brings up the question of what we do. The DC Consensus, as set forth by Jay Ackroyd at TPM Cafe, is that it is all so bad we can't possibly withdraw more than the few tens of thousands that the military will absolutely need to begin bringing home next year, and everyone in DC bleieves this, Dems included, but they aren't telling us because we'd get too upset.

This will leave somewhere around 50-120,000 troops at those permanent bases, like sitting ducks, somehow able to do what the 160,000 we have now can't do. Hello?

The whole September thing now seems to be falling apart as a strategy because the Dems are getting all squishy. They aren't going to do anything "irresponsible" even though our President has been totally feckless and irresponsible for the last 5 years in getting us into this mess.

The propaganda machine (welcome back Ari Fleischer) is setting the Dems up as losers and shoring up the wavering GOPers.

So what will the Dems do? Thewy have been given solid arguments by the returning vets' piece in the NYT and the NIE--there is no military solution. Period. It isn't supporting the troops to keep them in a situation that is unwinnable because it isn't a military problem.

So let's talk about why we have to begin withdrawing ASAP, while we can, and why permanent bases is not going to solve the problems but is going to keep riling up the extremists and provide more recruits for AQ.

Partition is the answer to the Intelligence communtity, but we are headed for a parliamentary coup.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/8/23/12486/2761

This NIE neutralizes al-Maliki.
Bush Admin leaked this for a purpose.
Bush Support for al-Maliki is Tepid.
Big GOP lobbyist make WaPo editorial for "parliamentary coup" and removal of Al maliki and installation of allawi.
Levin and Clinton support the puppet switch.

Puppet switch will prolong war: "we need to give them time to reestablish control in the new Government.


It's either walk away or partition.
I think less people die with partition.

As I understand it, Britain after WWI set up the current State and Boundaries of Iraq, though for at least back to the 6th or 5th century BC, the land has been fought over and divided many times by many factions.

In 1979AD Saddam Hussein took charge and ruled with an iron hand.

If the people of that land Al-Iraq now wish to take a different path, and revert to tribal areas, then we should respect their wishes and do the cowboy thing and get "the hell out of Dodge."

Albert:
I think the long term view is to delay this until it becomes someone else's problem.
Replace al-maliki and all will be solved.

drational

BushCo did not leak this. It was planned for public release since at least as early as June, and was written with that intent.

In the first place, there is no replacement for Maliki. Anyone we agree to will automatically be toast in the eyes of the Iraqis, and rightfully so at this point. In the second place, it just doesn't solve the fundamental problems of oil and income distribution, desire for sovereignty by the Kurds, security and rights for the Sunnis, infrastructure development, etc. If Maliki is to be out, arguably the best man for the job is Sadr. Who is going to allow that?

"Leaking" is not technically correct in that it is planned release. I should have said selectively dumped. The adverb was the most important part of the sentence, and parallels what they leak.

There are segments of the NIE that have not been released.
Whether the withheld bits are meaningful or not, what we get from the executive branch is what they want us to have. Do you doubt that?

Regardless, IC may want partition, but Hawks want to refight Vietnam.
Removal of al-Maliki will result in a new leader who we must give time and support (more surging).
TPMm points out the WaPo and GOP lobby support for Allawi.
Levin and HRC are on board for a parliamentary coup.

If we install a new puppet, we will buy more war.
Intelligence may want partition, but Cheney et al do not want to lose southern Shia oilfields to Iranian influence.....

bmaz
Levin and HRC want a do-over.
Bush Support for al-maliki is tepid, and we are already supporting Sunnis against the desires of al-Malaki.
The right wants to give Allawi another shot:
http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003978.php

We are heading for a "Diem moment".

Jodi -- you are incorrect about the history of Iraq, though I can understand how you got that impression. Despite the widespread proclamations of politicians and pundits, Sunni and Shia have not been warring in Iraq for centuries, until they were suppressed by Saddam. Sunni-Shia riots were rare before Saddam, and the Sunni and Shia cooperated in their rebellion against the British.

The current widespread sectarian violence has been fueled by the combination of Saddam's repression and our government's ham-fisted handling of the aftermath, which put in power parties and militias which had spent their exile in Iran and barred from government a huge portion of the Sunni population.

However, you have managed to reach the correct conclusion, so I'm glad we can agree on that.

bmaz -- I agree that a new prime minister (especially one who failed before) will do no good. Bush as always is incapable of distinguishing between the government and the person of its leader. The more fundamental problem than the person of the prime minister is that the post does not have the power under the Iraqi constitution to accomplish most of the things he is being called upon to do. (Sadly, far too many Democrats are making the same mistake.)

Here is the map that T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) thought might work: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4967572 The Brits did not use it, and it has been alleged that the Brits wanted a devisive map, to keep the Arab factions at each others throats while their oil was being ripped off. The whole thing is about oil, and who gets ripped off the most. The ripped off most will probably be the Sunnis, with less oil under their sand: it is too bad that the Saudis don't want the Iraqi Sunnis in their country.

Why does Cheney not want to deal with the Shia in the south and the Iranian influence? I don't get it - Halliburton had (and may still have) an awful lot of dealings with Iran, even post hostage. Their oil is just as good as the Kurds oil. I don't get it.

Didn't Congress ask for a new NIE? As I recall, there hadn;t been one since . . . the last one.

Allawi? WTF? The chuckleheads might as well just start claptrapping for Chalabi again. This is absurd. And any ouster of Maliki most certainly won't be by the Iraqis; it will be, again, at our hand. Hey, thats democracy isn't it? The Iraqis are to busy trying to stay alive by hiding in the unlit, un-airconditioned, waterless, rubble that they used to call home to engage in purposeful political activity. What the hell planet are these people living on?

drational

I'm making a distinction between all previous NIEs, and this one and the July 2007 NIE on terrorism. Your assertion about all previous NIEs would be correct--when they have been declassified (which was rare, anyway), the Administration only selectively declassified stuff.

But these two NIEs are different in that the plan, all along, was to write unclassified key judgments. So while there may well be politics involved in the key judgments, we're getting what everyone else is.

Also, I wouldn't say the IC "wants" division. I'm saying that's the evidence they've provided. What they "want" (and here's one example of how this NIE is different because the key judgments are unclassified--this is awfully close to policy proscription, which didn't used to be the case, I think) is that things carry on as they are.

"Voila, you've got a regional war between NATO and Iran." - EW

That's if NATO have any troops left to also fight Iran. I hear there's a lot of trouble in getting more troops into Afghanistan and Iran has a some ability to create strife in western Afghanistan.

IMO, neither the US nor NATO have any soldiers for a ground war in Iran. Of course they can blow a lot of stuff up with air strikes and missiles. But we saw the outcome of air power in Lebanon last summer - Halutz hounded out and Sheikh Nasrallah a hero.

Scott Horton and Bob Baer think we are going to war with Iran in the next 6 months. Guess that will fix the Iraqi Shi'a when we install our friendlies in Teheran!

Redshift,

please reread what I wrote. It did not refer either explicitly or implicitly to Shia or Sunni

In fact I refer back to 6th and 5th century BC (or BCE), [Cyrus the Great, and Alexander the Great, and the like ]when in fact Mohammed, Muhammed, Mahomet (Blessed be his name) (born 570 AD(CE)) started preaching about 613AD(CE) and then died in 632AD(CE) So I went back 12 centuries before.

In the 7th century AD(CE) Islam spread to Iraq.

EW
"But these two NIEs are different in that the plan, all along, was to write unclassified key judgments. So while there may well be politics involved in the key judgments, we're getting what everyone else is."

Ok: well I will just say that while IC may be a finicky cat, it is owned by the Executive, which ultimately has some control of the product.

"Also, I wouldn't say the IC "wants" division. I'm saying that's the evidence they've provided. What they "want" (and here's one example of how this NIE is different because the key judgments are unclassified--this is awfully close to policy proscription, which didn't used to be the case, I think) is that things carry on as they are."

Well, My take on IC is different. In their heart of hearts they would like nothing more than to influence policy. In the structure of the administration they are fit for a warm lap. Regardless they always know more than their bosses. If the NIE was untamped, I agree with your analysis. IC is advocating for partition, or 3 part segregation under a loose federalism (ala Biden).
If this NIE was shaped by the administration (my contention), the take home message is let's try again with a new puppet.
I just can't see Cheney allowing a Shia oil state.
As an outside pick, the Admin is reintegrating non-qaeda Sunnis for another crack at totalitarianism. The American left and right would likely be happy with an Iraqi escape from freedom as long as our troops come home?

Open those Oil lines to Israel by dividing the country.

Jodi -- so what are you saying, that the three divisions Iraq might break into are tribal areas that existed in the 5th Century BC?

Or that the fighting over what is now Iraq by various powers through the centuries is somehow highly relevant to the current state of affairs, as opposed the the fighting over what is now France or Germany during the same period?

In any case, if I misunderstood what you meant by your historical references, please forgive me and forget I said it. Trying to make any sense of it is giving me a headache.

drational--you are missing the point. Kathleen's got it. Shi'a take the oil, then we take Iran and get it back. That must be the Cheney Plan. And give it to Israel. That's the neocon plan. That may explain some of the Dem squishiness (Levin coming out agiant Maliki, for example.)

Thanks for the links, fwiw, I read Scott Horton as predicting a war. I read Bob Baer as predicting a missile strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. I think either would be nuts, but a sustained campaign, such as Horton fears, is imvho exponentially more nuts.

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