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23 May 2007

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Got A Watch

The plan was drawn up in the Dream Zone, of course:
"The campaign plan upholds Bush's long-term goal of creating a stable and unified Iraq that is a partner against terrorism."

Your opinion Col. demonstrates a much clearer grasp of the reality of the situation: "the incoherence of substance and unreality of many of the arguments and positions in these papers may indicate a disintegration of thought that would be alarming."

As was stated in previous comments, I hope those who dream up these things will personally apologise to the families and loved ones of the hundreds of US troops who will die during the duration of these ever-changing "Plans".

Any government built up by America now in Iraq is really built upon shifting sands, the factions are all lying low now and playing the waiting game, "giant sucking sound" indeed. All of these Plans just look like desperate attempts to position Mr. Bush's war for domestic political consumption "in the time we have available because of the U.S. political cycle".

Imagine how many lives would not have been lost and time not wasted if Bush had totally supported the Baker-Hamilton Report in the first place. Instead, he hs come to pretty much the same place, a "B-H Lite" Plan, minus any co-operation with Iraq's neighbors, or even acknowlegment they exist, through the back door and at least 6 months have been wasted on nothing.

It's as if (in the Bushian strategist's mind) Iraq exists in a vacum without neighbors and external factors, much like the vacum insde the typical skull in Washington.

stanley Henning

It looks to me like the Ignatius article is a less informed initial alert, while the Tyson article helps flesh out details, but this is just my initial take. Certainly the details in the Tyson article seem to show an understanding of the problems we face but, all this also seems to be a day late and dollar short -- a very desperate last ditch attempt to turn things around. I fear the obstacles are daunting. It is hard to take back what we have given away.

Stan
One article says that "reconciliation" is impossible and the other says it will be necessary to remove "bad actors" in order to achieve it. pat

swerv21

i found the ignatius article confusing.

he tells us that the thinking is that "Sectarian violence is not a problem we can fix,", but goes on to include this item in the list of objectives:

"· Ensure the near-term continuation of democracy in Iraq. That means supporting top-down reconciliation through a new oil law, new rules to make it easier for former Baath Party members to play a role in the new Iraq, provincial elections and changes to the Iraqi constitution to meet Sunni demands. It also means support for bottom-up reconciliation, such as the recent push against al-Qaeda by Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province, and recent peace feelers from radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr."

This seems to be a relic from the Kagan power points.

My read is the bullet point represents an a-la-carte approach to the plan, a set of chips to be negotiated and is not necessarily indicative of a comprehensive strategy. Many of these items seem to have been included to demonstrate contunuity with the surge plan so that the administration can weasel out of the painful public admission that this strategy has failed or is failing.

If we discard the bullet points and look at what Ignatius' sources are saying, then it looks like the post surge strategy is emphasizing buying off whatever Sunni tribespeople that we can and then backing the goverment and, ultimately, giving them close to free reign.

"Ensuring NEAR TERM continuation of democracy in Iraq." Quite an interesting use of words there.

I think the Petreaus plan is attempting to position itself as a more good faith, rigorous effort at creating the conditions necessary for a diminshment of violence.

But I wonder if it isn't too late. There was an excellent WAPO story a while back about one of the joint neighborhood patrols that involved American and Kurdish soldiers in a formerly mixed, now mostly Shiite neighborhood.

A Sunni woman complained that Shiite sectarians had given her bogus eviction papers. The soldiers detained the men and the woman kept her house.

The following day she was shot dead in the street. The family vacated the house that night.

I don't know how any plan could stop that kind of dynamic once it has been unleashed....

VietnamVet

Colonel,

As usual you are right on top of the situation. The casualty toll is increasing.

All of the action is political. The quandary is that the Bush Administration finds itself fighting a colonial war. The USA is the hated invader. But, the situation cannot be reversed militarily with the current force structure. The USA can overthrow the elected government and put in a CIA stooge but that will hardly calm the situation. There will never be enough boots on the ground until the draft is started and taxes raised to pay for the war.

In the USA, the four month funding bill will pass over the objections of liberal democrats. The selection of the next President is just 9 months away. Due to the Iraq War, along with the bursting of the housing bubble, medical insurance crunch and gasoline price gouging, corporate media propaganda ceases to be effective. A never ending war to preserve a Middle East colony becomes less and less affordable. A Middle East peace settlement and energy independence become viable alternatives awaiting a charismatic proponent.

Clifford Kiracofe

Compare with the triumphalist state of mind and "plans" of the foreign policy Establishment in the Council on Foreign Relation's March 2003 Report entitled "Iraq: The Day After."
http://www.cfr.org/publication/5681/
Those "experts" were listed as:
http://www.cfr.org/publication/5681/#author

or with the Pentagon's masterful strategic "thinkers"/planners circa 2003:
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB214/index.htm

or with a raft of other plans and planners,
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200401/fallows

Alice in Wonderland all....

abiodun

Col.,
I just finished a book by Dr Ali Wardi, an Iraqi sociologist- Social Glimpses... These plans outlined in the WaPo do not seem to understand the essential basic nature of Iraqi society, hence they are doomed to fail.
You seem to hit it right by suggesting that these two articles are trial balloons being floated by the "surge" planners.

backsdrummer

Colonel, as per your request, I read through the two articles by Ignatius and Tyson. Here's what I came up with:

The "Ignatius" Plan assumes Maliki's government is hopeless; that "Sectarian violence is not a problem we can fix," and also there is little time left for a solution.

The "Tyson" Plan assumes steps can be taken to strengthen Maliki's government, by eliminating "problem makers" and empowering "nationalists". No mention was made of any time constraints.

The "Ignatius" Plan calls for talks with Syria/Iran, and a regionally structured government. I take this to mean Maliki's government will be ignored, and the regional governments will be empowered.

The "Tyson" Plan has no mention of talks with Syria/Iran, and pushes a reformed national government, "purged" by Maliki, or if necessary, the US, of those the Bush administration deems too sectarian or criminal.

Under the "Ignatius" Plan, the US troops focus on force protection. I take that to mean we reduce the force and withdraw to defensible bases. Limited attacks are made on "al-Qaeda" and "Iranian backed" militias. I believe they also intend to keep Turkish, Iranian, and other "foreign" troops out, after the switch to regional governments.

Under the "Tyson" Plan, there is no talk of force protection, the US force is kept large, and there is talk of protecting Iraqi civil population in areas of sectarian conflict.

Both plans try to get the Sunnis more involved. The "Ignatius" Plan calls for getting the Sunni's a share of the oil revenue through a reformed oil law, and decriminalizing the Baath Party members. The "Tyson" Plan sounds similar, and adds Sunnis that killed Americans could be included.

Both plans talk about strengthening the "Iraqi" Army. The Ignatius Plan focuses on training while the Tyson plan focuses on numbers. I presume under the Ignatius plan the "Iraqi" forces would actually report to the regional governments, while the Tyson plan would support a national army.

The Tyson Plan for me is hard to accept as "reality based". My questions:

Where are they going to find competent "nationalists"? Isn't anyone empowered by the US quickly discredited as a nationalist? Don't they realize they will "martyr" the "problem makers" they intend to eliminate? Especially if the US goes after them directly?

Also, the Tyson Plan requires long-term popular support from voting Americans, as the troops are ordered to referee in areas of sectarian conflict. I don't see that happening.

The Tyson Plan, if it could work, would give the US the ability to get the oil law and constitution reformed, and that would help with Sunni reconciliation. The Ignatius Plan, if they go with regional governments, does not appear to provide any leverage to get the oil law or constitution reformed. Thus the Sunni regional governments continue to lack oil funding and that could lead to long-term sectarian problems.

stanley Henning

Pat

I realized I was perhaps about to put my foot in my mouth on this one. As I see it -- reconciliation-impossible and elimination to reconcile-impossible. Bottom line - imposible! We just cannot escape the fact that we have really botched this one.

anon

thanks for recent post on Lebanon, and new developments in Iraq planning, and very informative comments.

This entry below from a rather attitudinal and lefty blog argues that the Ignatius' column was 100% incoherent. Seems like several commenters here are saying the same thing in much gentler and more polite ways.

http://www.sadlyno.com/archives/6044.html
------
Four things bothering me:
1. the frequency with which we are hearing that Iraq passing 'the oil law' will help something or other (reconciliation, stability, reconstruction). As another commenter said, this sounds far-fetched. In desparation, is the Cheney faction revealing one of their ulterior motives for the war? I cannot believe that anyone would be so stupid as to think invading Iraq the way the administration did could be a good way to approach the problem of ME oil security, but there it is!
2. The recent reports of Pentagon planning for manning garrisons on those super huge airbases over the long term -regardless of what happens politically in Iraq. Are those plans from teh military or the civilians? Is that really a new idea, or another 'tell' of what the Cheney faction planned all along? Is it a sane plan?
3. Signs appear that probability of Iran attack are increasing
4. Bush's convenient declassification of bin Laden orders for attack on US from Iraqi AQ. Is that believable? Could it be disinformation from Bush/Cheney, or disinformation from Al Qaeda? Seems to me that if bin Laden has to ask his fighter is Iraq to try a direct attack on the US, things must be pretty desparate for AQ. In any case, so what if it was genuine, what does it have to do with best policy in Iraq -I guess Bush wants us to believe that whatever he chooses to do in Iraq is best strategy for countering Al Qaeda forces there. It would be nice to have a straight up debate about that, rather than using it as a thoughtless talking point on whether current Bush Iraq policy should be continued without any check or meaningful debate.

anon

Several commenters above make good point that passing an oil law with provisions for revenue sharing with Sunni might improve stability (reduce Sunni insurgency).

But this is the same oil law that also effectively denationalizes the oil inndustry and gives foreign (mostly US, I think) very favorable terms. Am I wrong there? There is *one* proposed oil law sponsored by the US, right? Some argue that favorable terms are needed given the mess in Iraq, but since same foreign interests MADE the mess in Iraq, that is not a convincing argument.

Anyway, if the oil law does both, what would be the net effect on Sunni insrugency. It has effects that seem to cancel out, as far as effect Sunni insurgency goes.

Cold War Zoomie

Anyone else feel overwhelmed and clueless when trying to noodle through these articles?

I'm lost.

FB Ali

Tyson concludes her piece on the Crocker-Petraeus plan thus : The plan is a thick tome with more than 20 annexes on topics such as policy on Iraqi security forces, detainees, the rule of law and regional diplomatic engagement, one participant said.

Such "huge" plans are made at the start of a war or a battle, not in the middle of an operation that is not going too well. Especially when you are faced with an elusive, resourceful enemy whose plan is a one-liner : Create as much mayhem and chaos as possible.

The solution to the US's Iraq problem does not lie in-country; it requires a regional solution. You do not get regional cooperation by issuing a Presidential Finding to the CIA to destabilize a key regional govt.

These plans, complementary or competing, are not going anywhere. For readers who want it laid out less starkly, read Juan Cole's take on the Baghdad plan.

john in the boro

Von Clausewitz writes: “If policy is right, that is, if it succeeds in hitting the object, then it can only act with advantage on the War. If this influence of policy causes a divergence from the object, the cause is only to be looked for in a mistaken policy.” (“On War”)

One of the “two plans” rises to the level of policy in the international sense; the other descends to the level of the politics in the domestic sense. One has the scope but not the authority; the other has the authority but not the scope. Thus, Pat notes the “divergence from the object.” The “Commander Guy’s” definition of the national interest is January 20, 2007. This is the vision that Ignatius promotes. The Baghdad team’s definition of the national interest looks a bit farther. This is the vision that Tyson reports. Washington and Baghdad are definitely in different reality zones.

Charles

Re: "disintegration of thought that would be alarming"

Thought!!? What a novel idea.

Charles

Re: "disintegration of thought that would be alarming"

Thought!!? What a novel idea.

walrus

There is only one group with a coherent, simple and workable plan for Iraq at the moment - the insurgency.

Their plan is to get us out of Iraq.

Kilcullens influence is too little, too late in my opinion, but he is heading people in the right direction, in that he is advising the same reasoned common sense approach, and making the same noises, as I was trained in many, many, years ago.

ie: Create a security environment where Iraqis can give themselves permission to trust us and support us.

I fear however that we are going to be overtaken by events if the obviously 'planted" media reports demonizing Iran yet again are anything to go by.

I fear for the entire force in Iraq. I have a recurring nightmare of yelling, smiling, AK47 carrying insurgents on the back of an Abrams tank, driving down a city street.

JT Davis

I wanted to find out about Kilcullen, Lt. Col in the Australian Army, Ph.D. in anthropology, Chief Strategist in the Office of the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism...

His last presentation to USGCOIN:

The 3 Pillars of Counterinsurgency

http://www.usgcoin.org/docs1/3PillarsOfCounterinsurgency.pdf

This sounds like the basis of the plan... to me at least.

PSD

Cold War Zoomie--
you're in good company....I was already having problems yesterday when I read the WaPo article by Ignatius. The Tyson article just made things more complicated to me. I think my problem is I'm not clued into the intricacies of DC politics. I'm not giving up yet, tho'. I'm gonna read them once again!

anon

Juan Cole says that a constitutional ammendment is key to national revenue sharing in Iraq (and to get more money to Sunnis), not the oil law. Is that correct? If so, what is so important about the oil law? For anything in short- or medium-term regarding security or reconciliation or political stability? Since turning over oil to foreign investment and control will be controversial among many in Iraq, how will it help with insurgency? Makes no sense to me, unless Cole is wrong about its potential role in revenue sharing. Ane even then, it would be a very mixed bag.


http://www.juancole.com/2007/05/effort-to-amend-constitution-founders.html

john in the boro

Von Clausewitz writes: “If policy is right, that is, if it succeeds in hitting the object, then it can only act with advantage on the War. If this influence of policy causes a divergence from the object, the cause is only to be looked for in a mistaken policy.” (“On War”)

One of the “two plans” rises to the level of policy in the international sense; the other descends to the level of the politics in the domestic sense. One has the scope but not the authority; the other has the authority but not the scope. Thus, Pat notes the “divergence from the object.” The “Commander Guy’s” definition of the national interest is January 20, 2009. This is the vision that Ignatius promotes. The Baghdad team’s definition of the national interest looks a bit farther. This is the vision that Tyson reports. Washington and Baghdad are definitely in different reality zones.
(corrected 2007 in my earlier post--old age)

MarcLord

Cold War Zoomie:

There was a plan similar to these tail-chasers (though Chatham House might've come dangerously close to making sense once), in the middle of WWI. Am still a little fuzzy on the name, so don't quote me on this one, but I think it was called the Von Fucked Plan.

MarcLord

In research, when faced with ignorant, generally disinterested, or hostile bosses whose funding you depend upon, you would think that it is crucial to make them understand what you're proposing. When often the opposite is the case.

It is helpful to make a long, technical name for your invention, particularly when you haven't got it working quite right yet and aren't really sure if you can ever get it to. When in such a situation, think up an acronym, preferably one which rolls nicely off the tongue and is easily remembered. Management is just as likely to say, "That's brilliant!," and pretend to understand as they are to cut your project. Above all, they often do not wish to appear dumber than you.

That seems to be somewhat akin to what the writers of these reports did.

pbrownlee

Since the leader of the free world appears to have said that resolution of the Iraq adventure will not be left to the next administration, I assume that that is Plan Z exactly.

Wasn't it Bismarck who said you should not believe anything until it's been officially denied?

Until then we will have the stale fruit salad versions ISG-Lite.

pbrownlee

"In many ways the U.S. is following contradictory objectives: Its security strategy will inevitably strengthen the hand of the alliance in charge of the government, while its political strategy claims that it is seeking to build a nonsectarian political order. The U.S. is trying to finesse this by setting political markers for the [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki government as a condition of further support, but it will tie itself up in more knots, I believe.

"Iraqis are thoroughly fed up with the presence of foreign troops that have done nothing to stem the violence and mayhem in the country. All the recent polls confirm this. But the foreign military presence acts as an uncomfortable security blanket in the absence of a definitive political settlement. Should the U.S. pull out its troops? On balance I would say yes, within a 12-to-18-month framework. The U.S. should be explicit about the Iraq that it wants and is prepared to support. If the Iraqi political class is not willing to make the necessary adjustments and learn to forget each community's grievances in the drawing up of a new national compact — and if the regional powers are not prepared to make their own compromises on Iraq in pursuit of their own interests — I can't see how and why the Americans should be expected to keep the house from falling."

What's Next in Iraq? Juan Cole Interviews Ali A. Allawi

http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=mfnl83k4pvvmhbf50mnntpr4vy7fs7td

(time-limited for non-subscribers)

anna missed

What walrus said:

"There is only one group with a coherent, simple and workable plan for Iraq at the moment - the insurgency.

Their plan is to get us out of Iraq."


As perhaps evidenced in the simultaneous reformulation of both the http://www.antiwar.com/porter/?articleid=11016>Sadr trend and the newly formed (R)eform and (J)ihad (F)ront into a potentially new nationalist movement.

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