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July 11, 2008

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WTF are we doing there?

WTF are we doing there?


Bringing freedom and democracy to the region.

Sort of like how Union Carbide brought life to Bophal.

Seriously, I have a 1960's National Geographic with a full page by UC making that ironic statement.

Gary Brecher's analysis seems generally sound, but contains a curious flaw. It's not just the IRA that adopted this model; it's also Hizbollah and to a lesser extent Hamas. Indeed, Hizbollah seems to be both (1) a better model to understand what's going on and (2) a more likely model for Sadr to look to. Why Brecher stretches to the Troubles when a better comparison is sitting (nearly) next door.

Sorry, that last sentence should read "Why Brecher stretches to the Troubles when a better comparison is sitting (nearly) next door is unknown to me."

Also, I don't think that anything in Brecher's analysis supports (much less requires) a US presence for 100 years. To the contrary, the Iraqi government will probably be able to deal with disruptions at the level of the Troubles without US help. Even if we presume that the US really intends to be on the front lines every step of the way, the IRA model burned itself out in a generation. And, there are, of course, a lot of ways this thing could go, some quite positive and some quite negative. The example of Hizbollah in Lebanon should provide some encouragement, at least. (Yes, I'm very aware of Lebanon's current problems & history .... But achieving a Lebanonese-style state would be a huge step ford. Lebanon is doing quite well by comparison to most of its neighbors, after all.)

Also, I don't think that anything in Brecher's analysis supports (much less requires) a US presence for 100 years.

Oh I agree. My point was more along the lines of, why would we want/deem it in our interests to remain in such a situation for 100 years?

Using your analogy instead of Brecher's, Reagan recognized that getting out of Lebanon was wiser than sticking around.

Bush/McCain? Not so much.

Also: In Brecher's defense, he does cite Hezbollah as a useful guide/model in certain respects.

Still, I think Hezbollah is actually less analogous because it tends to be more out in the open than the JAM 2.0 or IRA 2.0. And might not have followed such a similar evolutionary trajectory.

Using your analogy instead of Brecher's, Reagan recognized that getting out of Lebanon was wiser than sticking around.

True enough, although Lebanon lacks Iraq's strategic position or reserves.

Reserves. Indeed. There is oil in Iraq isn't there. Fancy that.

Reserves. Indeed. There is oil in Iraq isn't there. Fancy that.

Ya don't think that's worth considering? It may not be "all about the oooooiiiiilllll" but I damn well hope that it's "partly about the ooooooiiiiiiilllllll" or our foreign policy has been even more stupidly terrible than I thought.

Of course it's worth considering. And it was considered. It was likely the primary reason that we invaded (not taking the oil in a theft sense, but several issues related to Iraq's position as oil producer in that region).

But we screwed that pooch and it isn't taking to getting unscrewed. Pooches are like that.

And honestly, no matter what, one faction or another of Iraqis will pump the oil, and we will buy the oil. Oil has a way of making it out of the ground and into the market place. It's rather impatient like that.

What we might not get is a chance to exploit the situation, and box out others that would seek to get the pole position on development, etc.

I can live with that. The alternative is worse.

Von --- regarding your question of choosing the IRA v. Hezbollah, I think Brecher's choice is one of catering to his audience. Americans as a whole are way, way, way more familiar with the IRA and will have far less of an emotional negative reaction to the mention of it than a mention and analysis of Hezbollah as a model of emulation.

Eric, an excellent post. I've been wondering what we have been doing in Iraq. I still don't know, but this gives me some understanding of what is actually happening there. One sure can't find out from the MSM.

Does this give any clue as to what "Victory" might mean? That's the other part of this "war" that leaves me completely in the dark.

Is JAM still the biggest social services provider in Sadr city? Doubtful. Does anybody in Basra miss Sadr. Apparently not. Has Sadr's stripped down elite Ninja force launched any successful attacks against coalition forces. Not so much.

Sadr's power seems to be limited to incredulous journalists who need him to explain away the success of the surge.

"Does anybody in Basra miss Sadr. Apparently not."

Uh, what are you talking about? Moktada Sadr's forces have never been in control of Basra. So it would be hard for anyone to "miss" them.

Uh, what are you talking about? Moktada Sadr's forces have never been in control of Basra. So it would be hard for anyone to "miss" them.

Mr. Forward said nothing nothing about Sadr's forces being "in control" of Basra. It also doesn't follow that Sadr had to have been in control of Basra for him to be "missed" by the population.

I assume Mr. Forward is referencing the Iranian-brokered plan by which Sadr's militia in Basra agreed to disband and cede control to government forces in return for amnesty.

"BASRA, Iraq, July 8 (Reuters) - The Shi'ite Mehdi Army militia is finished as a fighting force in Iraq's oil rich Basra province and upcoming provincial elections should pass without violence, the province's governor said on Tuesday.

Mohammed al-Waeli said an Iraqi security offensive against the Mehdi Army of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr as well as other militias had cut violence in the southern province by up to 90 percent since April.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki launched a crackdown on Shi'ite militias in late March, breaking the stranglehold gunmen had over the province and its capital, Basra city.

The Mehdi Army initially put up fierce resistance, forcing the U.S. military to step in with air and ground support.

A week into fighting, Sadr ordered his militia to lay down their arms.

"I think the militias are over in the province of Basra. I really think the Mehdi Army is finished," "
http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL08394316

"Security is better without the Mahdi Army," said a 42-year-old
resident who wanted to be identified only by his nickname, Abu
Israa. "We don't want them back."

Most residents do not seem to miss the Mahdi Army, and the
U.S. and Iraqi governments hope that sentiment sticks. So Sadr
City is witnessing a flurry of public works projects - part of an
effort to build confidence in the government and make it more
difficult for the extremists to return."

http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews+articleid_
2387256&title=On_the.html

Has Sadr's stripped down elite Ninja force launched any successful attacks against coalition forces.

This is not true. There was that targeted bombing in Sadr City that took out US military and diplomatic personnel. They were attending a meeting to oust a local council leader and appoint a new, Non-Sadrist official in his place.

There have also been other such targeted killings in recent weeks.

Is JAM still the biggest social services provider in Sadr city? Doubtful.

Not just Sadr City, but throughout much of the Shiite south. They are still very much seen as the go to guys.

Sadr's power seems to be limited to incredulous journalists who need him to explain away the success of the surge.

Nonsense. That is the same foolish attitude that the US adopted since the invasion itself. Hasn't worked out too well.

ISCI isn't brash enough to underestimate Sadr, and neither is Iran. You should learn from their appreciation of the situation.

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