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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Risk of Civil War in Iraq? Sorry, that Train's Left the Station

(Keywords: , , , 's already a civil - someone invite the )

From Associated Press:

Iraq's new prime minister promised Tuesday to show "no mercy" to terrorists and said before President Bush arrived for a surprise visit that a long-awaited security plan for Baghdad will include a curfew and a ban on personal weapons.

That's not what I wanted to blog about; I just wanted to poke gun nuts with a stick. So much for the argument that more guns make everyone safer. Here's the part I wanted to look at:

Security officials said tens of thousands of Iraqi and multinational forces would deploy Wednesday throughout Baghdad, securing roads, launching raids against insurgent hideouts and calling in airstrikes if necessary.

Underscoring the lack of security, a series of explosions struck the northern city of Kirkuk, killing at least 16 people.

Iraqi security forces planned to deploy 75,000 Iraqi and multinational forces in Baghdad as part of al-Maliki's ambitious plan to crack down on security in the capital, a top Iraqi police official said.

Iraq's security forces can't possibly drum up that number and still have a presence elsewhere, so we can safely assume that it'll be mostly 'multinational' forces - meaning, mostly american. This contradicts another AP story:

CAMP DAVID, Md. - Two years ago when an interim, caretaker government assumed political power from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, President Bush suggested that the Iraqis were ready to take off their training wheels.

Now, with a permanent government in place, Bush says the future success in Iraq depends largely on whether the new team in Baghdad is able to secure the nation and take care of its citizens.

On Tuesday, when the face of Iraq's new Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is beamed into the Camp David presidential retreat over a teleconference hookup, Bush will be offering to help the fragile democracy chart its future. At the same time, he'll be expressing the administration's desire to shift responsibility for Iraq to the Iraqis _ a move that would permit a drawdown of U.S. troops.

What kind of a drawdown sees thousands of troops deployed to Baghdad? What we're doing in Iraq right now is running around putting out fires. There's no strategy here anymore. We've become peacekeeping forces who fail to keep the peace. This doesn't stop Bush from trying to paste a big smiley face on the country.

"U.S. President George W. Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq on Tuesday and met new Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki," Reuters reports, "The White House said he would be on the ground for more than five hours and would also meet U.S. troops. The visit comes six days after a U.S. air strike killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq."

He seems to be trying to make hay by keeping Zarqawi's name in the news. But, predictably, Zarqawi's death has done little to stop the violence in Iraq. The largest group fighting in Iraq are not foreign fighters, as the administration hopes you'll believe, but the Sunni insurgency. Often described as 'Saddam loyalists', they're really just Sunni/iraqi nationalists. I doubt they really give a damn about Hussein. This group is well armed and well trained. After Hussein was removed from power, Donald Rumsfeld foolishly disbanded the iraqi army - something we're still trying to rebuild. Not only did this tear down an institution that we needed, it created a massive unemployment crisis in Iraq. A military dictatorship employs a lot of soldiers.

The mostly Sunni Republican Guard, an elite fighting force charged with directly defending Saddam's regime, and other Sunni troops found themselves unemployed and out of power (Saddam was Sunni, so they enjoyed more political power). These well trained troops form a militia and began a violent campaign to consolidate military power.

Many of these militia men are probably radical islamists, but when the administration calls them 'islamo-fascists', they're engaging in a little bit of bullshit. Their cause isn't muslim extremism, their cause is self-interest. At least Bush gets the 'fascist' part right. I don't doubt that if the Sunnis regain power, they'll use radical islam as a way to draw in the extremists and use them to oppress the populace in the name of 'traditional values' (sound like anyone you know?), but expect a lot of military uniforms in government and goosestepping parades through Baghdad.

If we stay in Iraq, we'll simply be delaying the inevitable. Bush sloughs off his responsibility on 'future presidents', but we're building an embassy in Iraq which is, in reality, a small american city to house military personnel. Clearly, there are no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.

If we pull out, there will be civil war. But, then again, it's really a civil war now. In the post-US phase of the civil war, the democratic Iraqi government would be wise to gain the support of the Kurds, who have a standing army all their own. They could do this by promising them autonomy and an independent Kurdistan - this would turn the kurdish fight into a fight for their freedom. The turks wouldn't like this, but screw them, they're dicks anyway.

The argument that pulling troops out of Iraq would result in civil war is nonsense. We're training iraqis to fight iraqis. Sounds like civil war is the exit strategy anyway. Right now, we're keeping civil war simmering in the pot, but it'll boil in a second.

I hate to say it, but it seems to me the best thing we could do right now is step back, let it happen, and support the iraqi government the best we can. I want a democratic Iraq - hell, I want a democratic world - but the way things are right now, we might as well give them a state motto and an NFL franchise. Maybe this fight can be avoided, somehow - Sunnis in the iraqi government should try to assure other Sunnis that they won't become an oppressed minority and invite insurgents to the negotiating table.

If that doesn't work, then it's the iraqi/kurdish coalition forces and the map of the middle east, redrawn so often in the past, is redrawn once more.