Monday, October 10, 2005

Deadly threats we must confront in Iraq

The plights of our friends in Iraq and our brave service-men and -women require nothing less than a new foreign policy doctrine -- an Iraqi Doctrine -- to ensure the continued, benign nature of America in the 21st Century.

"Warfare is the greatest affair of the state, the basis of life and death, the Way to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed ... seek out its true nature" wrote the great Sun Tzu, in Ralph D. Sawyer's translation.

The nature of war in Iraq

Let us posit two forms of warfare. One is warfare by choice and the other is out of necessity. Warfare by choice may achieve the interests of a nation but it is not warfare that is immediately necessary -- nor would it always meet the usual tests for moral justification. Necessary warfare is a martial response to an existential challenge; your enemy seeks to inflict great harm and a military response needs to be dispatched without delay or diplomacy. Our war in Afghanistan met that criterion at its inception. Our war in Iraq did not.

The response to the challenge present in Afghanistan in October 2001 required military intervention and such action was morally justified. The Taliban and al Qaeda were well enough established to do tremendous harm to the United States -- they should have been attacked before 9/11 but they most certainly had to be attacked after that horrible day. It was necessary that the full force of the U.S. military be brought to bear against these foes.

Iraq also required a response -- but not a martial one. Further analysis than the administration was willing to conduct would have indicated that Iraq was not, at the moment of the war's inception, a substantial WMD threat, nor was Iraq a partner with al Qaeda.

Iraq did have the infrastructure in place to restore some WMD ability, and that would necessitate diplomatic diligence to prevent. Further concessions from Iraq or from the United Nations were possible with aggressive military power in place to force the issue. That power was exerted long before this Iraq war became a possibility in the United Nations; U.S. air power was directed against command and control sites in addition to anti-air positions for punitive responses to Iraqi activity in the No-Fly Zone.

At that point, the battle space was more highly engaged than it had been since Bill Clinton's cruise missle strikes for the assasination plans against George H. W. Bush. Intelligence work conducted before the official war could have been useful in more thorough analysis of Iraq's intentions and more importantly their abilities.

Analysis of the complete array of intelligence available in March of 2003 would indicate that WMD was at best a possibility in Iraq and potentially no longer a real threat. That should have lead to further review, not a hasty and poorly planned war. Blame can be placed at both sides of the political aisle and with the main stream media. This hasty race to war resulted in a war of choice, not necessity, and the war was morally inexcuseable. Sin compounded upon sin with the poor post-war planning, the administration and hawks shirked their sacred duty to conduct their existential role with seriousness and deliberate planning.

However, Iraq now meets or soon will meet the immediate existential threat to our way of life and the way of life of our dear friends around the world. The threats that hawks say that they saw in Iraq have manifested themselves in a home-grown Sunni insurgency augmented with foreign fighters of a brutal al Qaeda inspired ilk. That threat is not the only one present on the battle space, as Shiite militias have fought Sunni, Coalition powers and other Shiite groups.

State of affairs

Shiite militias have infiltrated the police force in Basra, New York Times. British forces have fought against militia backed police in Basra. The governor of Bara has accused the British of destabilizing the region, BBC News. Moqtada al-Sadr, a rival of the powerful Badr Brigade, has grown his movement's muscle power in spite of engaging the United States in pitched battle, Christian Science Monitor.

The state of affairs is an undeclared civil war, according to some analysts in this August report in the Christian Science Monitor:

"We are living in an undeclared civil war among Iraq's political groups,'' says Nabil Yunos, the head of political affairs for the Dignity Party, a Sunni party. "It's not just Sunnis that are the problem. It's the Shiites, the Kurds, it's everyone. The violence has gotten worse, and we're entering a very dangerous period."

In their hasty rush to war and lack of proper post-war planning, the administration violated well established principles that have guided good leaders for as long as civilization has blessed the earth. In their unwillingness to counter and limit the administration, the United States Congress violated the founding principle of this republic, that the people would determine how our way of life would be protected and fostered and not a cabal of the powerful or even a King -- especially an ignorant King. The best case scenario for Iraq will only arrive after the following steps are taken.

Reënter the Senate

Correcting some of the ills in Iraq and preventing those ills from haunting our future combat operations will require a more vocal and engaged Congress -- in particular the Senate -- willing to risk its unique politcal capital to make decisions in the best interest of the nation.

Leslie H. Gelb and Anne-Marie Slaughter argue for just that sort of involvement in November's issue of The Atlantic:

Our Framers could not have foreseen the present age of nuclear missiles and cataclysmic terrorism. But they understood political accountability, and—as their deliberations in Philadelphia attest—they knew that sending Americans into battle demanded careful reflection and vigorous debate. So they created a simple means of ensuring that debate: in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution they gave Congress the power to declare war.

Declarations of war may seem to be relics of a bygone era—a time more deeply steeped in ritual, when ambassadors in frock coats delivered sealed communiqués to foreign courts. Yet a declaration of war has a great deal to recommend it today: it forces a deliberate, public conversation about the reasons for going to war, the costs, the risks, the likely gains, the strategies for achieving them—all followed by a formal vote.

In fits and starts, the Congress has regained some of that control. The recent 90 to 9 vote to limit interrogation techniques, Washington Post account, was an important step in the right direction, against the wishes of the chief executive. The techniques that the Senate asked are nothing different than the army's own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions.

Debate seems to gain some momentum as the situation in Iraq remains chaotic, bloody and difficult -- and elections in 2006 and 2008 approach. Senator Carl Levin in Monday's edition of the Washington Post offered that no entity, with the exception of the most extreme of the insurgencies, wants an immediate U.S. withdrawal without better security and infrastructure. So Senator Levin concludes:

The American people are rapidly losing patience with the mounting casualties and costs while Iraqis squabble among themselves over their future. The administration should tell Iraqis that if they do not reach a political settlement by year's end, we will consider a timetable for our withdrawal. Making that clear to them will insert a healthy dose of mind-focusing reality that is their best hope for defeating the insurgents and becoming a nation.

The would be peace planners

There is no derth of peace planners offering different ideas as to how peace -- or even just order -- can be developed in Iraq. The Sunni insurgents have even stated in cogent terms what they would like to see from the foreign actors in the country.

One source, in Foreign Policy, says that insurgents realize it will take time for Congress and the administration to reconsider Iraqi policy. Though the caveat that there are many different insurgencies/militias and it is uncertain who can speak and to what extent, it is important that people are talking. From Foreign Policy:

First, they want a U.S. troop pullout from most urban areas and an end to military checkpoints and raids in residential zones. “The Americans and British must leave all residential areas,” said Esam al-Rawi, a leader of the Muslim Scholars Association, a group of 3,000 Sunni clerics....

Second, they demand the release of American-held prisoners and an end to the “de-Baathification” process that turns every former mid to high-ranking Baath Party member into an unemployable outcast. ... “Several relatives of mine were imprisoned for months, and there was no evidence,” said Nadhmi. “That makes Iraqis very, very angry.”

All the Iraqis interviewed for this article said they did not advocate release of Saddam Hussein or others accused of involvement in killings and torture. “No, it is not necessary to release them,” al-Rawi said. “They are bad men. They have committed crimes. But you must release the others.”

Third, they want to end the Shiite and Kurdish militias’ dominance of the Iraqi Army and National Guard, especially within the so-called Sunni Triangle. Although the White House and Democrats alike say they want to turn over security duties to Iraqi government forces as soon as possible, Sunni Arabs point out that those institutions are almost completely composed of the Sunnis’ archenemies—the Shiite Badr Brigade and the Kurdish peshmerga....

Peter W. Galbraith in the New York Review of Books has offered the following optimistic portrait of the constitution:

The outcome of the Iraqi constitutional process will therefore very likely be the three-state solution that ... I described in these pages in May 2004.[1] Iraq is well on the way to becoming a loose union of three separate and radically different states (or more, if the Shiites choose to divide themselves into two regions).

... It is merely the ratification of a breakup that has already happened. And far from igniting a widespread civil war, the constitution provides ways of resolving the very issues that could provoke such a war: oil and territory. The "old oil, new oil" compromise in the constitution stipulates that oil revenues from current production will be distributed equitably among Iraq's regions, which means that the Sunni region will receive large infusions of money. And while current production is concentrated in the Kurdish north and Shiite south, all of Iraq's regions have unexploited resources that are likely to produce considerable revenues for them in the future. In the recent negotiations, the fight about oil was not over revenue—the principle of sharing with the oil-poor regions was readily accepted by Kurds and Shiites—but over control. When controlled by Baghdad, Iraq's oil revenues were used not only to finance development projects concentrated in the Sunni Arab heartland but also to pay for military campaigns that ravaged Kurdistan and the Shiite south. It is hardly surprising that both groups considered regional control of future oil development one of their nonnegotiable conditions.

... The strongest argument for the new constitution is that it could avoid civil war. But it has three other virtues: (1) it may hold the country together, (2) it limits Iranian domination to the southern half of the country, and (3) it provides for a more workable military strategy than the one to which the US is now committed.

But what Galbraith shades with optimism, other experts paint in darker tones.

Under the headline "A Central Pillar of Iraq Policy Crumbling" the Los Angeles Times reported the following:

But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and efforts to reduce insurgent attacks.

Now, with Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the insurgency.

The reality of the battle space

United States generals, testifying to Congress and in private, said that the current force deployment in Iraq may result in more harm than good, Los Angeles Times. Further, the commitment of about 150,000 U.S. troops may not be sustainable with the present force deployments around the globe.

A reduced American footprint will benefit the integrity of the military, the ability to deploy elsewhere and to keep troops healthy and happy, and reduce tensions with Iraqis. However, extensive United States military involvement will be needed in the country for some time.

Congress and an Iraqi Doctrine

If someone can propose a poorly titled opinion "oil-spot" theory for pacifying a country of 25 million, then I can be so bold as to call for an Iraqi Doctrine. This will not originate from our less-than creative White House, but it could come from Congress on a hot seat.

In a thumbnail sketch, this Iraqi Doctrine will be issued by the Congress to ensure the boundries and integrity of Iraq as a United States protectorate until an internationally recognized Iraqi government asks for a different relationship, perhaps even immediate United States withdrawal. This mission would be defined as an ongoing process of continued, benign United States commitment in recognition of the mistakes made by the government of the United States in failing to ensure the peace and security of Iraqis from the year 1991 until the present day.

Only after the United States admits the mistakes so plainly protruding from our own eye that we can begin to work on the eyes of our friends. In addition to asking pardon for the past, the reliance on remaining the invited guest of the Iraqi government will require the United States to begin producing results.

That means results must be realized in the quality of life for Iraqis and in the political process. Sunnis must be able to count on a reliable Iraqi security force, devoid of sectarian suspicion like the old Royal Ulster Constabulary. Congressional oversight of reconstruction will remove control from the Bush administration that has failed to achieve even modest progress in the past two-and-a-half years. Civil servants in America, be they Democrat or Republican, and Iraq, be they Sunni or Shiite, will be rewarded for success and dedication to the cause.

The Iraqi people and our service-members deserve nothing less than the most effective efforts from the people of the United States.


Post a Comment

<< Home