Monday, December 10, 2007

An Iraq Update

You may have noticed that there have been a steady trickle of 'good' news from Iraq - not good in the sense it is now all the Land-of-Milk-&-Honey but good in the sense that less people are being brutally murdered that the most recent high. Does this mean we have 'turned a corner' and victory is in sight? I don't see how...the first sign that things are far from good the all the 'surprise' visits. 'Surprise' is a good word as in surprise party, but what they mean here is that the government does not announce in advance that they plan to visit the country as is the normal diplomatic protocol. This is because the place is still so violent that to announce in advance that you are going to be there is to invite an attack. IMHO If Brown and Bu$h can't announce in advance their schedule, then it's not classified as safe. The war-mongers behind the Iraq war got a huge shock back in 2003 when Neo-Con Wolfowitz was nearly hit in a rocket attack. Seems to me that after that all the visits became 'surprise' or 'unannounced'. So where is the war now? Juan Cole is not optimistic:

Guerrillas differ from conventional armies in that they typically avoid direct, conventional engagements on the battlefield. They melt away before a conventional army's advance, and then reemerge to engage in sniping, sneak attacks, and bombings from an unexpected quarter. The advantage of Fred Kagan's troop escalation or "surge" is that it allowed a tamping down of violence in Baghdad through a US campaign to disarm the Sunni Arabs there. There were two disadvantages of it. First, it allowed the Shiite militias to take advantage of the disarming of many Sunni Arabs, and to ethnically cleanse hundreds of thousands of Sunnis from the capital during the past six months. As a result, Baghdad is virtually a Shiite city now, like Isfahan or Shiraz. Second, the Sunni guerrillas melted away in West Baghdad, either laying low or relocating to other provinces, so that the violence was displaced to the provinces. Very likely when the extra US troops are removed, the guerrillas will reemerge in the capital, though their loss of so many Sunni neighborhoods to the ethnic cleansing may put them at a disadvantage now.

While helena Cobban seem the groundwork being laid for a withdraw:

If Petraeus is to have any hope of executing an orderly or near-orderly drawdown of US forces from Iraq, he will need forces in both the Sunni and Shiite community who are prepared to (a) cooperate somewhat with each other, and (b) gain substantial control over most of the Arab-majority parts of the country, so that the US troop drawdown is not a rout-- and to prevent as much as possible the direct military intervention of Iraq's neighbors in the country as the drawdown occurs.

Which just reminds me of the ignominious British retreat withdrawal from Basra, a low-key claim of (a very pyrrhic) victory and hope nobody notices the rampant violence and fighting because it is too dangerous for reporters.

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