Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Just How Bad Was It SUPPOSED To Be?

"U.S.-led troops hold most of Fallujah; Insurgent resistance is weaker than anticipated": Frontpage Headline, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/10/04

"In Fallujah, a bloody fight for every inch": Headline, Minneapolis Star Tribune, same day.

"A bloody fight for every inch" is WEAKER than anticipated? I suppose we can be grateful it isn't "a bloody fight for every millimeter."

Meanwhile, Fallujah seems to be a rollout of the new insurgency strategy: "Pushing for a secretarian-based civil war. TNR's "Iraq'd" blog reports:
"Politically, the insurgents have significantly advanced what could be called the Sunni persecution strategy: That is, to gather recruits, material, and political support for the insurgency by aggravating the sense among Sunnis that they have no future in the U.S.-sponsored political process. The only Sunni political party in the Allawi government has quit in protest and the largest Sunni religious organization has formally called for their adherents to boycott the January elections. One member of the Iraqi Islamic Party who refused to resign his position--and who has since been renounced by the party--explained his decision: "It will be a big mistake not to have the Sunnis' participation in the election. We would have problems for decades to come."

Exactly. That's the insurgents' strategy: Ensure that the U.S.-backed process takes on an overwhelmingly sectarian character, with the Shia dominating outright alongside a restive Kurdish delegation waiting in the wings to seek independence. Since the insurgency will by all estimates continue on into January, a Shia victory sets the stage for pushing the vicious cycle of Sunni alienation and violent resistance forward. That is why attacks have been occurring in Shia areas like Karbala and Najaf, and why, except for the occasional outburst by Moqtada Al Sadr, no Shia are coming to the aid of Falluja this time. Understood through this prism, the Sunni insurgency is in a revolutionary situation, viewing itself as far more likely to gain what it seeks--restored domination of Iraq and the removal of U.S. forces--through violence than through any political settlement. Much of the Sunni insurgency appears to be figuring that they can win a civil war, and as such are looking to start one."

This, unfortunately, is a sadistically brilliant strategy. By specifically undermining the prospects of a future democracy (by claiming that the Sunni's voice is going to be suppressed by the new government), the insurgents virtually guarentee that a) they'll continue to be able to get new recruits no matter how many the US kills and b) that the Shi'a majority government that will be formed in January will be unable to govern. And of course, if the Shi'a government launches into a widescale offensive against the nation's Sunni population, well, that's what would be impolitely called a "civil war."

It's about time US politicians and foreign policy elites start discussing what happens if the US loses this war in Iraq (I define "losing in Iraq" as the emergence of either a civil war or a non-democratic tyranny as the government in Iraq). I'm not saying we're past the point of no return, but the consequences of losing in Iraq are so dire that we need to have contingency plans in place now if we're going to prevent a total foreign policy disaster (we all remember the problems that go along with a lack of advance planning, right?)

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