Friday, March 02, 2007

To Talk or Not to Talk! (with Solutions for Iraq)

Sometimes it is instructive to send news articles amongst friends, so I did:

Message:Oh, so Bush has actually been pressuring Arab states to talk... but they don't want to. "Two Arab diplomats in Cairo said Wednesday that the U.S. recently increased pressure on some Arab governments to press them to attend the conference,..."
Of course the response was worthy for a liberal rant:
Ah, now read the entire section..

"Two Arab diplomats in Cairo said Wednesday that the U.S. recently increased pressure on some Arab governments to press them to attend the conference, after they initially had turned down invitations from the Iraqi government. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity. Syria and Egypt confirmed separately they would attend, but there was no immediate comment from Jordan or Saudi Arabia. Bahrain, Turkey and Kuwait also were invited, along with the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference."

Each side in the Mideast's widening Shiite-Sunni split has accused another of being responsible for the spiraling violence in Iraq. Iraqi officials have complained that Sunni countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia are not doing enough to help calm Iraq, while the Sunni countries in turn blame Iraq's Shiite-led government for failing to rein in death squads and Shiite militias. Well, I can think of at least two reasons why other Arab governments might not want to get involved. First, they don’t want their own populations to get any idea the they might be acting as tools of the warmonger Americans simply by being in the same room with those who kill fellow Muslims by the thousands without any remorse, concern or care. Second, they are a mix of Sunni and Shia, and do not want to get involved in the Shite/Sunni dispute. Take Saudi Arabia, where the government is largely of one sect and the people are largely of the other. Who needs to cause problems at home? Who believes the Americans are REALLY after anything constructive? Not me. What’s really interesting is that AFTER Iran said it would attend, the Bushies very quickly said, well, of course we aren’t going to talk DIRECTLY with Iran or Syria. What are the Americans gunna do, walk around the buffet dinner with their eyes on the ceiling so they don’t see Iranians or Syrians? What a bunch of fools! Hey, Condi, bring the President of Iran a cup of coffee and a finger sandwich and sit down in a nice quiet corner of the room and have a heart to heart talk. What have we got to lose? But now, the phony-Christian moralists wanna be pure and not get contaminated by the axis of evil Muslim Persian devils!
Hah! What arrogance, as if I didn't read the article. Apart from the thinly veiled religious bigotry, where is the answer to my provocation? The liberal perspective is always "If Bush is involved, it has got to be bad." Wow, eight years of complete mental and emotional constipation. If nothing else, Bush will leave a lasting legacy in the world of therapists serving liberals. When I first began a response, it was to be short and snippy. Then I caught a thought that I tried to run with, you decide if it was successful or not.
Still nothing good you can find anywhere? Surprise surprise. Not that I expected any change in consistency... (smile) I love this: "Who believes the Americans are REALLY after anything constructive? Not me." No kidding? Couldn't have figured that out from any previous statements. Notice how that view is DESTRUCTIVE and creates a myriad of mental traps you consistently fall into with any situation? There is no escape for you from this mental and emotional bondage it seems. Anyhow, back to the reality of Arab insanity. We can leave Bush out of it, as you seem to have no objectivity or measured context from which to argue if the president is involved. (It's called BDS, Bush Derangement Syndrome)

I see two possible scenarios playing out from here, and they depend on Iraq Shia motivations. Even with that there are qualifications due to the mixed primary source messages that are available ('mist' of war?). It appears that there is a general sentiment of revenge against Bath atrocity fueling the sectarian violence. On the other side (still considering Iraqi Shia) there is a sentiment aligned with (but not attached to) the same nutty 12th Imam stuff who could be increasingly influenced by Iranian Mullah magic. Neither of these has matured into a pervasive force, and self interest still rules the public. But both sentiments are fluid and could easily ignite frenzied violence if given enough room or provocation. So, the overall general public must back their government to a extent where they can maintain the lid on both common popular movements. Yet unlike Al Qaida, or other foreign involvement, the government has to court the Shia population away from support of these movements, just crushing them will only add to the fervency of each. The revenue sharing agreement recently passed will go a ways toward this goal, as money begins to flow. And what money it is! Iraq already produces more oil than Indonesia and Qatar combined, with increased production on the horizon with increased stability. Of course, Iran would like to control some of that, so would many others.

If the general Shia populations perceives that the Government will be able to provide jobs and security they may abandon the more radical ideas. If they wont give up support of these populist semi-radical ideas, then security will be very difficult for anyone to provide. This seems to be key. Fighting the Islamist Radicals will continue no matter what happens, and is a separate issue at this point. I don't think the average Iraqi would hesitate long in giving up a Al Qaida member or other radical. But they obviously have not changed sentiment regarding the other two elements. If they had, it would take less than a month to stabilize much of the violent regions. So that appears to be the real roadblock at this juncture. Granted, two of the Sunni provinces are still rife with disgruntled former Bathist and Al Qaida sympathizers, but that, like western Pakistan, is a separate problem, and not a real threat to a stable functioning Iraq government (of some form). Pakistan is a bad example of course, as its not exceptionally stable. The whole Arab region is a bad example, as there is not much in the way of freedom, education, or respect of human rights. As a step towards progress though, even a semi democratic Iraq will change the whole Arab map.

Can a free Iraq exist in a repressive, 12th century Arab world? Or would it become the prime target of radicals for years to come simply due to its 'Westernization'? This is where I part with established policy. It is not about one country or region. It is about a dark oppressive society that will consume a sea of blood before it emerges from the Arab Dark Age. If we have that perspective, maybe our policy would become less complex. Export freedom, import oil. Yet we can not force freedom on a society, and we can not buy freedom for a region. Men and machines have ravaged the Arab world for many years, to little avail. Much like the trillions of aid dumped into Africa, with little result. Buy the oil, sell them DVD's, and let them duke it out amongst themselves. Unfortunately in this modern time, isolationism has become a impossibility with the advent of global Islamic Radical terror. No future of 'stick to our shores' if we intend to retain our personal security.

With this broad picture in mind, the purpose of securing Iraq should become similar to that of securing the Korean peninsula in the '50s. Create at least a secure functioning region in the Kurdish north where commerce and freedom can flourish. Even this permanent foothold would have a significant impact in the region. Next, focus on secure zones that we have absolute control over. Begin to restrict American patrol and movement to controlling those clear areas and real terror interdiction. What I mean by this is begin to downsize military involvement to anti-Jihadist activities and operations and control of sterile zones. This will lead to increased violence in some areas, but with the perspective outlined, any transfer to Iraq control will be one that has a frictional element. Why is this pullback necessary? It must happen in order to regain the initiative in the propaganda battle.

By 'redeploying' a portion of the Iraq force and then changing the mission publicly to one of anti-Jihadist hunting only, we would be given a time frame to build a structure of security that is easy to maintain and requires lower troop levels. At the same time allowing Iraq security forces to adjust for the conditions they will eventually face many years hence. All this could be implemented rapidly thus thwarting some of the Anti-American element in the Iraqi public perception. In real terms, we could 'cut the force in half' by summer of 2007 without hindering any anti terror activities. In real troop levels this could be masked by the permanent presence in the north being a 'extension' base of power. Rotations and equipment increases would happen there as (hopefully) planned. The one extreme variable in this short term plan hinges on the strengthening Baghdad government. If there is a weakening of power, or a serious collapse of cooperation, this plan would have to include retaining or increasing security around the government, or letting it fall, which would be a severe humanitarian disaster and increased security risk.

In essence, the prolonged formation of a stable governing structure in Iraq coupled with the failure of this administration to marshal the American public has created a situation where we are unable to increase our presence or change tactics easily. So with the current 'surge' and the decrease in violence in Baghdad, there is a bit of political capital that needs to be used effectively, and the implementing the plan as shown before the end of summer would short circuit criticism of the 'surge' tactic and shift gears within the public debate. It will also allow for the Iraqi government to make autonomy claims if it appears that we are downsizing, thus garnering more of the absolutely necessary general Shia confidence and support. Whether the Iraqis can suppress the two sentiments outlined and maintain a level of security long enough for the proverbial "money to flow" will depend entirely on Iraqis, there is nothing in the short term that Americans appear to be able to do apart from what they are doing. We lost the chance to 'crush' and hold the worst areas, and we can not allow the descent into chaos. Now, the effectiveness of 20/20 hindsight is weak and I am not sure that a 100k increase in troops two years ago would have actually suppressed the sectarian uprising, but that is a separate debate.

Of course most of the short term speculation is just that, but the concept of integrating our short term goals into a cohesive long term strategy to counter Islamic Radical expansion that hinges on Arab long term socioeconomics and systematic cultural repression. There are certainly wiser and more informed strategies that could be constructed in the short term, but establishing the long range goal has not been expressed publicly beyond platitudes in most cases. This is something the modern western Muslim could make great strides in and begin to lead the debate eventually. Championing women's rights, economic freedom, and religious tolerance would be a good place to start. Unfortunately, that tend to get one killed in the Arab world, most recently seen in the assassination of a Pakistani woman politician for not wearing a headscarf. They have a long way to go, and seem to be either idling or heading in reverse in some regions. Additionally, the Muslim community living in the west has not raised its voice against the radicals. This should concern them, as they are a target of the Radicals. Leaders in the West need to throw off the yolk of political correctness and reject the diversity police in this long term strategic fight. Concisely frame the argument, even while suffering with archaic policies. Speak truth, even if it offends the Saudis. Challenge partners on the clearest issues, like women's suffrage, even in the face of cooled relations. There can be no other way eventually.
In the end I do advocate discussion! Yet not the unilateral waste of time nutter libs would force upon us in regards to Iran. My discussions would be continual challenges to the Arab world to end repression, free society, and abandon mono-theocracy! Down with Jihad!

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