Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Iraq prospects

Remember Iraq? You know, that ancient Mesopotamian country the United States has been afflicting since 2003? Well, under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that the Bush administration negotiated with Iraq's pretense of a government, U.S. troops are supposed to be all gone by the end of 2011.

Lots of thoughtful people have doubted that will really happen. What -- the empire give up an outpost that also sits on such vast quantities of oil? Can't be.

But I've long thought it would happen, because, little as our media can admit it, the U.S. is quietly slinking out of a country we never controlled nor defeated, though we sure made a mess of millions of Iraqi lives while trying. The Democratic administration can't have our troops dying in any significant numbers in that war zone: Afghanistan is more than enough to roil domestic political waters. And then there's the effort to dispose of Qaddafi.

Thus it is interesting to read what Adam L. Silverman, a culture and foreign language adviser at the U.S. Army War College, thinks is going to happen. From Tom Rick's "defense" blog:

The Iraqis, and here I'm referring to every major faction, have made it very, very clear beginning with our Sawha allies out in Anbar starting back in 2007, that they are waiting for us to leave. They are waiting for us to leave in order to settle scores.

The Sunnis and non-expatriate Shiite that make up the Sawha and primary opposition that composed the Iraqiyya Party (which was disenfranchised from forming the most recent Iraqi government after winning the largest plurality due to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's directing the power of the state at them in a successful attempt to reverse the electoral outcome) know they can't really win a head on confrontation, but they've made it repeatedly clear that they are ready to fight (back).

Maliki is waiting for us to go so that he can cut his forces loose on these folks once and for all and put an end to them. The Sadrists want us gone -- badly! The Kurds want their own state and are just waiting for us to stop paying attention long enough so that they can find an opportune moment to declare independence.

Moreover, given past and/or ongoing Iranian support for the bulk of the parties in the governing coalition (Dawa, Sadrists, the Kurds, ISCI/Badr) they won't allow their proxies to agree to anything that significantly prolongs any significant U.S. presence. They'll tolerate training of security forces as a large number of the Arab portion of the Iraqi Army (IA) are Badr Corps, which is tied directly to the Quds Force. So whatever we teach the IA, we're teaching the Iranians. No need for subterfuge at all.

The Bush administration's war succeeded in none of its objectives -- the current U.S. administration isn't going to waste any of its political capital on trying to hold off the settling of scores that is so likely over the next few years. Silverman worked in Iraq; he thought the occupying force had a responsibility to rebuild what it had destroyed, but was thwarted at every turn by ideologies emanating from GOP Washington. But reading his description of the post-invasion snafus, it seems utterly clear that the U.S. never understood much about Iraq at all. Just enough to blow things and people up.

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