Saturday, January 06, 2007

more surge questions

A propos of Popessa's fine post about the troop surge, and where the surgers are coming from, our new leader-to-be in Iraq is General Dave Petraeus, an accomplished warrior AND scholar(Princeton Ph.D, International Relations) who wrote a praiseworthy tome on counterinsurgency and got good reviews for his hearts-and-minds work in Mosul in the first months of the war. His preferred weapon was the carrot rather than the stick. Now, he faces his toughest challenge in his career, probably, in trying to square the Iraq circle. Here's some of the questions he will have to answer:

General Petraeus wants US surge troops to get out of the green zone and hunt militias and bad guys in the neighborhoods. How are his forces going to be able to tell friend from foe? Shiite from Sunni? Civilian from insurgent/militia member? The only linguistically capable individual in-country was General Abizaid, who just retired. How will he close the language and culture gap in order to convince neighborhood residents to put their faith in US troops rather than sectarian militias?

On a related note, if we go after Shiite militias, how will we avoid alienating the Maliki Shiite majority government? That's a large part of the Maliki constituency, as we saw during the Saddam revenge drama. Won't we will be working against the people whose election we praised? If we target the Sunni insurgents, how will that play among our good friends in the region, who are all...SUNNI Arabs. Saudi Arabia? check. Egypt? check. Jordan? check. Kuwait? check. All Sunni Arab countries.

And just how will our surgers convince the Iraqi army to put their religious and clan identities aside in the interest of the NATION, when it is obvious there IS no Iraqi nation?

I wish General Petraeus well, but putting Humpty Dumpty back together again will likely be beyond even his considerable abilities. I am afraid that a coalition soldier had it absolutely right when he declared, "I think we are all f------- here on every front."


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