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25 January 2007

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It is impossible to fight this kind of war effectively without good local intelligence. This means natives who actively support and believe in the American cause, and believe that they will not be sold out by the Americans.

The Americans have turned about 90% of the local population in Baghdad against them; just about the only thing Sunnis and Shias (including pro-Iranian and Iraqi nationalists under al-Sadr) agree on is that they want the Americans out.

The only thing the anti-American forces need to do to turn someone over to their side is to say "Who is going to protect your family after the Americans are gone? Iraq is just the desert version of Vietnam. Remember Vietnam?"

This is exactly the strategy which turned many South Vietnamese into spies for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army; appeal to the personal safety of the fighters' families. It is something which will weaken even the most determined fighter. Personal bravery in the battlefield is one thing; being reckless with one's own unprotected family members is quite another.

While there were many South Vietnamese who were loyal to the Americans, the number of South Vietnamese who were functionaries in the Republic of Vietnam government who became officials in the Communist government of South Vietnam showed that the South Vietnamese government had been completely compromised on the intelligence level, and the Communists were able to counter every move the ARVN made. The same situation is now happening in the Iraqi government, except that there are more sides, factions and loyalties in Iraq.

There simply is no good clear response to this question for the Americans.

So what are the chances for Petraeus being successful? I would say that they are about the same as Bush's popularity getting back above 80% in the US.

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