Monday, January 28, 2008
The Surge, along with the Anbar Awakening, some ethnological reboot, diplomacy with Iran, is part of the greatest unexpected success of the second Bush term: the Iraq War. Weekly Standard has an excellent inside-account of how Bush decided on the Surge that is a must read.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Karim, A. (2007). Iraq nullifies Kurdish oil deals. AFP. 24 November, 2007. Available online: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071124/wl_mideast_afp/iraqoilkurds (from Democratic Underground).
Even discounting the blood and treasure we spill, there are real costs to keeping the fake state of Iraq around. This is one of them:
Iraq's oil ministry has declared all crude contracts signed by the Kurdish regional authorities with foreign companies null and void, a government official said on Saturday.
"The ministry has nullified all contracts signed by the Kurdistan Regional Government," the official told AFP, asking not to be named. "They will not be recognised."
The government in Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish region has signed 15 exploration and exportation contracts with 20 international companies since it passed its own oil law in August, infuriating the Baghdad government.
Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani has in recent weeks angrily denounced the Kurdish authorities for signing the contracts before the national parliament approves a new oil and gas law, declaring them "illegal"
Keeping Iraq as a unified state means the functioning Kurdish north is yoked to the Gappish Shia south, and the Gappish Shia south is tied to the Tony Soprano v. Osama bin Laden funland of the Sunni Arab west.
Iraq should be broken apart as quickly as practical, allowing three very different nations to speed ahead, or fall back, at the rate that is natural for them in this world.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Tom Barnett notes Patreaus appears to be detaching Iraqi Shia from the worst of the militias, like he earlier helped detach Iraqi Sunni Arabs from al Qaeda in Iraq:
Interesting. To extent this repeats like Al-Qaeda in Anbar, Petraeus may be pulling off a double.
Like the Anbar Awakening, Patreaus appears to be smart enough to recognize victory when it presents itself. (This is no small accomplishment.) In particular, now that the Shia appear to have captured the seat of the Caliphs from their Sunni Arab rivals, the main benefit of the Shia militias (clear out Sunni houses, protection from Sunni terrorism) have gone away.
Here's a second possible explanation: the Shia have basically won the Battle of Baghdad. Given their victory plus the additional security that has resulted from the surge of U.S. forces, there simply isn't the need to rely on militias, especially thuggish ones.
Ethnological reboot -- successfully completed ethnic cleansing -- can provide the social harmony a nation needs for growth. It looks like Iraq is getting close to possessing that public good.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
A military force that fights the a war in modern warfare's fifth generation -- that is, a 5GW Army, focuses on altering the rules of the game so that the fighting of lower-generational forces proceed in a way favorable to the 5G force.
In his testimony (of which I have a pdf copy thanks to the Small Wars Council and ZenPundit), General David Petraeus describes his view of America's role in Iraq as 5GW in everything but name:
The fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources. This competition will take place, and its resolution is key to producing long-term stability in the new Iraq. The question is whether the competition takes place more – or less – violently
The United States, and thus the Multinational Force - Iraq more generally, are fighting the state-without kind of 5GW.
Courtesy of Zen Pundit and the Small Wars Council, I was able to read the testimony and examine the presentation of the report that General Petraeus, of the Multinational Force - Iraq, gave to the Congress. The fifth slide is titled "Ethno-Sectarian" violence, and contains maps of Sunni v. Shia attacks on December 2006, February 2007, May 2007, and August 2007.
What's strange about it is that the neighborhood map does not change. The detailed color-coded representation of Baghdad, with Green for majority Shia, blue for majority Sunni, and orange for mixed appears to be the same now as it was twenty months ago.
Everywhere, of course, one reads about the etnic cleansing of Baghdad. So what gives? I'm assuming that those who prepared the slides for Petraeus used the last available census information for generating the ethnic neighborhood maps, but alternatively (and less likely, in my opinion) the discussion of ongoing ethnic cleansing could be overblown.
Finally, presuming the violence in Baghdad is leading to ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, it would be interesting to compare a real time-sequenced map of Baghdad with theoretical work on homogenization and inter-group tournaments that's now appearing in the academic literature.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Hegseth, P. (2007). MoveOn.org calls Petraeus a traitor. Weekly Standard. September 9, 2007. Available online: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/091rhesh.asp.
Since the very first time I heard the name "General Petreaus," I've been waiting for someone, anyone, to make the obvious pun. It's even better than Joseph Lieberman, and far surpasses President Ray-gun. My big, big thanks to MoveOn.org for finally pulling the trigger, and using "General Betray Us" in a newspaper attack ad:
Tomorrow--as General David Petraeus provides his Iraq assessment to Congress--the antiwar group MoveOn.org is running a full-page advertisement in the New York Times under the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray us? Cooking the books for the White House."
Other brave souls, including Corrente, No Quarter, and Peking Duck, have already made the pun, but now, it finally reached the New York Times as a full-page ad.
I have nothing against Dave Petraeus. I've heard only good things about him, and expect to support his report. But the pun is too obvious. And now, that pun is fulfillzed.
Thank you, MoveOn.org!
Friday, September 07, 2007
Dehghanpishesh, B. & Kaplow, L. (2007). Baghdad's new owners: Shiites now dominate the once mixed capital, and there is little chance of reversing the process. Newsweek. September 10, 2007. Available online: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20546328/site/newsweek/page/0/ (from Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog).
Faluda, S. (2007). America's guardian myths. The New York Times. September 7, 2007. Available online: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/07/opinion/07faludi.html?ref=todayspaper.
Two good articles on pre-modern wars, which may be called "0GW." In the New York Times a reminder of genocide-scale violence against English settlers:
The assault on Lancaster came several months into King Philip’s War (or Metacom’s Rebellion, for those who prefer the actual name of the Wampanoag chief). That fearsome and formative confrontation between white settlers and the New England tribes remains, per capita, America’s deadliest war. In one year, one of every 10 white men of military age in Massachusetts Bay was killed, and one of every 16 in the Northeastern colonies. Two-thirds of New England towns were attacked and more than half the settlements were left in ruins. Settlers were forced to retreat nearly to the coast, and the Colonial economy was devastated.
And, in Newsweek, the violent ethnic cleansing of Baghdad:
Thousands of other Sunnis like Kamal have been cleared out of the western half of Baghdad, which they once dominated, in recent months. The surge of U.S. troops—meant in part to halt the sectarian cleansing of the Iraqi capital—has hardly stemmed the problem. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July was slightly higher than in February, when the surge began. According to the Iraqi Red Crescent, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has more than doubled to 1.1 million since the beginning of the year, nearly 200,000 of those in Baghdad governorate alone. Rafiq Tschannen, chief of the Iraq mission for the International Organization for Migration, says that the fighting that accompanied the influx of U.S. troops actually "has increased the IDPs to some extent."
Both the Massachusettes Bay Colony of Prince William's War and the contemporary Baghdad Governorate are fake states, lines on that could only be enforced by violence. Like Massachusettes Bay before her, Baghdad has one choice if she wishes to become a real political region: become a cultural region, as well.
In colonial New England, the "trigger pullers" of the colonial militia was backed up by a restrictive but pro-market ruleset, the religious puritanism of the area's new inhabitans. In the same way, contemporary Baghdad is only born by the violence of the Shia militias: a restrictive but pro-market ruleset, probably Sharia, is needed to raise her up.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
A.E. (2007). Declaring defeat in Iraq. Simulated laughter. September 4, 2007. Available online: http://simulatedlaughter.blogspot.com/2007/09/declaring-defeat-in-iraq.html.
Reacting a post on Lawyers, Guns, and Money, my friend A.E. writes:
In the name of defeating the media-hungry but militarily weak Al Qaeda in Iraq, we are amplifying and accelerating the warlordization of the country. It amounts to nothing less than a public declaration of defeat, as our stated aim remains the reconciling of ethnic factions and the construction of a strong central government. President Bush's visit to Anbar and meetings with Sunni chieftains responsible for the deaths of American servicemen puts a very public face on this surrender.
First, let it be said that the United States' objective in Iraq is balancing Iranian power, creating and supporting a Sunni Arab counterweight that will prevent the active cooperation of the (Shia) Baghdad regime with the (Shia) Tehran government in an attack on Saudi Arabia.
Divering oil revenue to the Sunni tribes surely does this, as does supporting a tribal/paramilitary capacity to attack the government of Iraq within her own borders.
That said, these actions have to be viewed in the context of the millineal victory of 2003. If Afghanistan was "retaliation" for the Pentagon, then the Iraq War is the response to the twin towers attack, a shocking experience that "changes everything" and creates a "new normal." In particular, Sunni Arabs have now lost two states in three generations, putting them well on the way to loss of territory and prestige rivaled only by the early-twentieth-century collapse of the Germans.
I enjoy A.E.'s blog, Simulated Laughter, and I hold views similar to his. Unfortunately, A.E.'s use of the word "defeat" is strange and use of "surrender" is bizarre.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Rasheed, A. (2007). Iraq says Iran continues shelling despite protest. Reuters. August 30, 2007. Available online: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070830/wl_nm/iraq_iran_shelling_dc_1.
A few weeks ago, chatter from Washington hinted at airstrikes against the PKK, an anti-Turkish Kurdish group on the terror watch list, but with close ties to our friends in Iraqi Kurdistan. This tactic was designed to force our friends, the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, into either abandoning the fight for Turkish Kurdistan or destruction.
Instead, the PKK goes through the horns of the dilemma: last weekend, they attacked and destroyed an Iranian helicopter. This week, Iran's been shelling Iraqi Kurdistan.
This is a smart move by the PKK, which positions itself as an anti-Iranian thug organization, and a bad move by Iran, which traditionally has good relations with its ethnic minorities (though this has frayed in recent years).
Lastly, this is also a sign of our missing diplomatic surge: Iran should be helping us battle al Qaeda and connect the Middle East. This proxy war between Washington and Tehran is unfortunate, to say the least.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
So it appears the military Surge is working. We also need a diplomatic "Surge." In particular, the U.S. government should intensively pursue the following goals with respect to Iraq.
- an emphasis on victory as a fait accompli. With respect to our primary enemies -- supporters of al Qaeda and supporters of al Baath -- the only question left is the nature and extent of their obliteration. With respect to our primary clients -- al Dawa, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the Kurdish Democratic Party, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan -- the only question left is the nature and extent of their triumph.
- an emphasis on The 2K Solution. The war leaves us with two stable and friendly allies who enthusiastically wish us to remain and do not require counter-insurgency operations: Kuwait and Kurdistan. The American military presence should be accompanied by an increased American economic presence, focusing on the role of Kurdistan and Kuwait as developmental hubs for the region.
- an emphasis on Iran. Like cancer, the Iraqi Baath Party and the Islamist Qaeda Movement are blight on everyone's house. Now that the first disease has been cured and the second seemingly quarantined, enemies (Iran) as well as clients (Saudi Arabia) and friends (Israel) all benefit. A favorable regional balance of power can be sustained through military arms and materiel sells at favorable rates. American troops in Iraq are not needed. Similarly, the ruling parties of Iraq are naturally grateful to Iran for years of underground support. Iran's help should be embraced.
- an emphasis on feedback. The reality of the deed -- the overthrow of one of the most prominent Sunni Arab states and its replacement by a Shia Arab regime -- is matched by the propaganda of the deed -- that partisans of Ali now control the ancient seat of the Caliphate that murdered their Imams. In every way, the greatness of the deed and the thunderousness of the propaganda should be emphasized. To the extent possible, both should be used to destabilize the broader Sunni Arab world.
I was skeptical of the Surge, but if our military progress is matched by an equal effort on the diplomatic effort, it will have been worth it.