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01 August 2005


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This is perhaps the best clearly elucidated, pragmatic appraisal of the dynamics involved with the Iraq insurgency and our military presence there. It has seemed abundantly clear for quite a while now that at a certain point Sunni interests and the broader and intrusive jihadi interests would diverge, and Dale Davis's view of this seems quite realistic.

My broader question about all this goes to US behavior in response to these dynamics. I happen to believe that the Bush administration, for all it's grandiose rhetoric and posturing, doesn't really want stability to take root in Iraq for fear that such stability will undercut their ability to legitimize what I regard as their desire to maintain a large, long-term military presence in the region. In short, I suspect the US leadership would prefer to remain a catalyst for inciting the violence and providing grounds for the Sunni/Jihadi interests to remain united in their quest to force us out of that territory.

I'd be interested in your thoughts, (both Dale's and Pat's). Is there a useful benefit in considering that what I surmise as to US intent might be true? Is there an argument to be put forward to specifically counter US behavior if it does in turn take a path that will only continue serving as the catalyst for this violence?


I like the sound of all of it save the "give them a taste of it" at the end. It seems like Sabra and Shatilla in the making. Do we really want to enable a strictly Shi'a policing of Sunni neighborhoods?

It's a straight question, not grinding an ax.



The Shia police and military are already trying to establish their power in
Sunni neighborhaoods and the process is leading to increased violence on both sides.

At some point we are going to have to acknowledge that our project in social engineering in Iraq and elswhere just doesn't work at any price that we would be willing to pay. I think that in the end we will withdraw and the "game" will be left as Alexander predicted before his death, to "the strongest." pl



our causality count has now hit the '2000' mark.




Keep reminding us. pl



Many thanks for your reply. sbj


A clear and concise precis, in which I think there are two significant loose ends.

One is pointed to by sbj in asking whether withdrawal can be squared with a putative Bush Admin goal of establishing long-term presence on the ground. Perhaps the cost has forced a reconsideration of this scenario.

The other, unaddressed point is I think the Iranian role. The benefit to Iran's conservative Shi'a of our money and blood is almost off the chart. I think it explains, in part anyway, the apparent resurgence of a non-reform polity, even if it is based on election chicanery (known in other parts of the world as well...). The argument would be that the benefits of a shared or Iran-dominated Shi'a partnership in the region greatly outweigh and render far less useful those flowing from stonger links to west, which would require a more "reformist" posture from the mullahs.

On the one hand, secure Shi'a dominance in Iraq might limit the attraction of Iranian "help". On the other, it is looking far more likely that the Bush Admin, regardless of realpolitik, will engineer military action against Iran (as Dale points out more recently). The reasons for this direction may be at base purely domestic, but it will complicate the withdrawal picture...

I don't think I've seen the contrast between the original Wolfowitz/Feith utopian "success" formulation and the pass in which we find ourselves more concisely or clearly expressed. My grandfather saw action in Mesopotamia during the First World War, and based on some of his notes I think he would certainly recognize the current situation, but never credit the earlier view...

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