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23 August 2007


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There's an old saying that applies here, "A patriot for Me." Or to put it more politely, "All politics is local."

But as for how it will affect the ultimate resolution of the Iraq situation--it reminds me of a cartoon in which a disabled airliner has miraculously landed on a Pacific island so small that the plane is shading the entire island. The mechanic joyfully announces, "Hey, I fixed the engine!" to the scorn of the passengers. The joke is that even though the plane is now technically capable of a takeoff, it's now physically impossible to move the plane--yet the mechanic foolishly thinks he's accomplished something. Sometimes "Better late than..." is just a Consolation Prize.

Abu Sinan

The people who faught the AQ guys like America no more than they did before. They just realise that they must deal with one thing at a time.

We are not wise to arm adn train any of these guys. AQ in Iraq is not the bigtgest threat, nor does it have the largest numbers. They just carry out some of the most heinous attacks.

Once AQ is dealt with these guns will be turned back on American troops ans Shi'ites.

The only reason they are fighting against AQ is that they feel that the AQ fighters are more dangerous to their power base long term whereas American troops will eventually leave.

I dont think this really is the "good news" that many are making it out to be.

W. Patrick Lang

Montag and Abu Sinan

Your comments would make sense to me if we were going to stay in Iraq. We must not. we must leave as soons as the situation is fairly stable and we have made some acceptable arrangements with the neighbors. pl


Doesn't this just confirm that Iraq will be partitioned into three states?


The strategic threat from Iran has driven U.S. policy in the ME since 1979: has this threat changed and what evidence do you have that there is any possible "acceptable agreement" now?

Perhaps you think 'reality' is about to start dictating U.S. policy but I doubt it.


your comment "...if we were going to stay in Iraq. We must not." unfortunately sounds like wishful thinking. 4 permanent bases plus the largest US embassy in the world--those don't sound like temporary measures. I agree that we should not and must not stay in Iraq, but I question whether Washington agrees with us.


These were alleged AQ. Any way of finding out if the allegations are true? Or did a Shia militia meet resistance when it attacked a Sunni village and vice versa?

W. Patrick Lang


Of you folks who are comfortable in your self satisfied cynicism ought to go somewhere else. pl

robt willmann

In reply to Montag and Abu Sinan in these comments, Col. Lang notes that--

"We must not [stay in Iraq]. We must not. We must leave as soon as the situation is fairly stable and we have made some acceptable arrangements with the neighbors."

This is sensible and sane. But it is not the desire or plan of the promoters of the Mideast activities and Iraq War inside and outside of the U.S. government.

I know I am repeating myself, but the main goal of the Iraq invasion is to be sure that there is not an independent and nationalist government or leader in Iraq. The next goals are for the U.S., Britain, and Israel to control the oil, water, and financial structure of Iraq. The remaining goals that are obvious are to suppress some of the moral and business principles of the Muslim world.

Military bases that have been completed or nearly completed in Iraq sure look like permanent bases.

Keep your eye not only on the laws passed by Congress, but also on the "resolutions" that are passed which are not laws but are supposed to be non-binding expressions of Congressional opinion. These resolutions, especially, are persuasive techniques or Pavlovian conditioning used on Congress to minimize or prevent it from taking action contrary to these nonbinding resolutions (or laws that are passed) and ending the war.

If you read the resolutions passed about Iran, you can see that Congress is being set up for a possible attack on that country.

The U.S., Britain, and Israel are not leaving Iraq unless some catastrophic event will shove Congress over the lobbying groups and cause it to no longer fund the war. Or a president is elected in 2008 who will end it. Only three contenders clearly would: Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel. Mike Huckabee might.
The remaining candidates are sock puppets for the gangster foreign policy.

Thus, the tribes in these areas of Iraq will turn their guns on us when AQinM, to the extent that it exists, is minimized or neutralized because, absent a new or resurgent Congress, or a markedly different person as president, we're not leaving.

I have seen no evidence to indicate otherwise.

Cold War Zoomie

"Military bases that have been completed or nearly completed in Iraq sure look like permanent bases."

Don't underestimate the ability for the Department of Defense to abandon bases even after spending tons of cash on them.

I've heard many a person exclaim "they can't close this base, they just built a new x, y and z!"

My prediction is that we'll start leaving in 2009.


I found, in English (and perhaps a reader of Arabic can find more) on albasrah.net a lament that Al Qaida is responsible for the "wrecking" of the resistance in Al-Anbar; Al Qaida is responsible for a mass grave of 300 civilians found there; and that Iranians, US neocons, Zionists and Al Qaida all favor the partition of Iraq.


Presumably this is one Sunni faction opposed to Al Qaeda but not allied to the US.


Fog of war:


Things look good in Fallujah to this Congress person. But there is no mention that all vehicles have been banned for many weeks now in Fallujah.


As far as fighting AQiM is concerned that is good news. It's a bitter irony and a bloody pity that it ever became neccessary to fight AQ in M.

What worries me is not so much the integrity of the splendid constitutional Iraqi state - IMO as soon as they have a say the Mesopotamians will make a choice of their own anyway - what worries me is that the support of the Sunni is seen in DC circles as a good start of the first stage in pitting the Sunni against the Shia in Iraq and beyond - especially Iran.

Before the Sunni stand a chance to confront the Sia government they got to rid themselves of AQiM and achieve a degree of unity. Only then they can try to force themselves back into the political realm that is today Shia dominated. But I think that cavalierly exchanging al Maliki to make that happen won't work. Mesopotamia probably will have a civil war about this.

There's a chance that the Cheney crowd reads and presents that as a part of a Sunni-Shia war in lobbying for bombs on Iran. If they succeed in having the last word in this with the decider, that'd be very bad news.


I am confused by your two comments above concerning others’ posts to your original post as – having read much you have written – they don’t seem to be at odds with your views.
Abu Sinan seems to be arguing that the White House spinning of Sunni (non AQ) on Sunni (AQ) fighting is a sign of alignment with the US is a misrepresentation and this is a tactical move and once ‘foreign’ Sunni influence has been dealt with normal service will be resumed. This picture seems to fit well with what I thought was your position regarding the Muslim view of ‘self’ as being not the individual but some self defined group with a shared religious interpretation. If we assume these local (non AQ) leaders have not bought into the American dream then, if they manage to remove AQ influence in their area, will they not return to removing US influence followed by combating Shia influence.
Leigh seemed to be asking a legitimate question about the meaning of ‘withdrawal of US troops’. Assuming we have given up on ‘winning’ the war in terms of installing a US friendly democratic stable unified Iraqi state what do we leave behind. A US embassy in the capital? A US embassy plus some troops to secure it (if so based where)? The above with some other permanent bases and if so who is going to ‘invite’ this presence? If we are to withdraw in the short or medium term it seems unlikely we will leave a viable peaceful unified Iraqi state to sanction these bases also wouldn’t any remaining bases – or embassy – be under continuous attack?
Arun’s question also seemed reasonable the MSM accounts reported it as an AQ attack – which seems likely – but it always seems prudent in the current climate to double check the facts when AQ are being blamed for something, as there has been a tendency to use it interchangeably with ‘Islamic Terrorism’ of others stripes.


COL Lang:

We may achieve tactical success at the price of strategic failure.

Tactical success: we get Sunni tribals to suppress AQM.

Strategic failure: Iraq enters a period of warlordism encouraged by us. China in the 1920's, possibly followed by a nationalist white knight who necessarily will be anti-foreigner and dictatorial.

If we want to appeal to history, I suggest we look hard at China post Sun Yat Sen.

I suppose what I am saying is that our policies now seem to me to aid and abet retrograde incipient warlords, the one criterion being a willingness to take on AQM.

I think an apt description of this policy is "cynical and brutal, if tactically effective".

W. Patrick Lang


I do not share their concern with regard to the sincerity or permanence of the motivations of those who might help us injure the takfiris or balance political forces inside Iraq.

Since I regard the political/anthropological discord in Iraq as essentially of no objective importance to the US, I am quite willing to accept "insincere" help in achieving our goals which I think should be:

1- Damage the takfiris

2- leave behind an Iraq that will not disintegrate because of sectarian/ethnic warfare. To achieve this last we need to see a situation in which the Sunni arabs and Shia see the necessity of "sharing" no matter how much they dislike each other. To achieve that end the Sunnis must have more real power (not seats in parliament).

3- No permanent bases in Iraq. Those are "sunk costs."

4- Make enough useful deals with neighboring states to ensure a minimally acceptable status quo ante situation. pl

Duncan Kinder

"Alleged al-Qaida fighters attacked a Sunni village east of Baqouba on Thursday and killed a village leader who had led the community in an uprising against the terrorist organization, witness and police said.

It would be interesting to know what sort of Sunnis these villagers are. In particular are they, perchance, Sufis?

Putin, in Chechnya, has attempted to align with the Sufis against the Wahhabis. Is something like this occurring in Iraq?

If so, consider the following:

  • How is this being perceived by Saudia Arabia?
  • By individual Saudis?
  • The Mahdi, whom we recently discussed in a prior thread, was a Sufi.


Dear Col. you write: "we need to see a situation in which the Sunni arabs and Shia see the necessity of "sharing" no matter how much they dislike each other. To achieve that end the Sunnis must have more real power (not seats in parliament)." How do you identify real power for Sunnis after our withdrawl?

W. Patrick Lang


The ability to defend themselves. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

The various Sufi brotherhoods in the Caucasus are traditional there. The Wahhabi penetration began in about 1979, one might say as a second front (anti-Soviet) to Afghanistan. As I recall, the Pak Tablighi Jamaat brothers were circulating through the region then and the Saudis moved in with money and etc. Then AQ comes in. Daghestan seemed to be a particular target.

It is logical for Russia to work with traditional leadership elements in the current context.

The best open source Caucasus material I have seen and used is produced by the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Conflict Studies Research Center.
C.W. Blandy is the master, if not the grand master, of the subject, IMO.


John Howley

Regarding the matter of the "sincerity and permanence of motivations" there is available on youtube a clip of Cheney (1994 version) explaining in some detail why invading Iraq would be a very bad idea.



I think it is a false dichotomy to talk about disintegration versus a unitary state. We end up with a weak (read powerless) central government and local authorities that will fight on the edges of their turf.

Has Lebanon disintegrated? I see Iraq following the Lebanon model until/if another strongman appears.


can we achieve number 2, sunni power, thru number 4,useful deals with neighboring states?

including iran?


Col, forgive my cynicism but this Administration doesn't listen to Middle East experts like yourself.

Every action taken by "G.W." and company has been ideologically and some say even religiously based.

That scares me.

Experts can be wrong and will acknowledge their mistakes by making recommendations, adjustments in strategy or tactics.

Ideological and Religious action are almost impossible to acknowledge or adjust.

Now the administration is using Generals to defend their refusal to acknowledge or adjust the current surge strategy and tactics.



If the original Sunni-led insurgency wasn't enough to prompt Iraq's different Shia groups to share power, how will these new, official Sunni militias convince them?

I agree that what is happening in Anbar is good news. Transforming that good news into a larger trend will be hard, though. The leverage the Sunnis have against their Shia compatriots is continuing and/or intensifying the present civil war. That’s about it.

It reminds me of Deadwood’s finale. Where the people living in Deadwood acquiesce to Hearst’s ownership of its gold, only because to fight him would tear the town apart. Hearst, representing the outside, civilized world, has access to an almost unlimited supply of Pinkerton’s. Furthermore, in the last episode he has corrupted the political process and appears set to obtain political legitimacy.

The people of Deadwood give in because to resist would destroy everything they have built. Similarly, in this scenario, the Sunnis have to hope the Shia leadership, such that it exists and is capable of reaching coherent conclusions, takes the threat of Iraq being torn apart seriously enough they will negotiate.

However, the Sunni don’t live where the oil is. From a Shia perspective, how much more damage can they really do? They can set off bombs in Baghdad, make life uncomfortable, but little else. The Sunni should be acquiescing to the Shia. They are like the people of Deadwood, but without any control over the gold.

Hmmm ... Everything I needed to know about the Iraqi Insurgency I learned from Deadwood?

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