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March 08, 2006
Keep Nixon Out Of Baghdad

I read this and I wonder if he's right. Is Iraq today's Vietnam, not because the wars are the same, but because our strategies for fighting each of them seem to be so much the same, even though the situations themselves are incredibly different?

I found the comparisons between Maoist people's wars and communal civil wars both interesting and educational.

The underlying dynamic of many communal wars is a security problem driven by mutual fear. Especially in states lacking strong central governments, communal groups worry that other groups with historical grievances will try to settle scores. The stakes can be existential, and genocide is a real possibility. Ideologues or nationalists can also be brutal toward their enemies -- Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge come to mind -- but in communal conflicts the risk of mass slaughter is especially high.

This certainly sounds like what's building in Iraq.

The only way to break the logjam is to change the parties' relative comfort with the status quo by drastically raising the costs of their failure to negotiate. The U.S. presence now caps the war's intensity, and U.S. aid could give any side an enormous military advantage. Thus Washington should threaten to use its influence to alter the balance of power depending on the parties' behavior. By doing so, it could make stubbornness look worse than cooperation and compel all sides to compromise.

This would be a really tough stance, but that quite probably is what is needed.

In the same essay comes the recommendation that the USofA stop trying to train and arm so many Iraqi security forces so quickly and accept that we, and our money, are going to be there for quite a while. I find that less palatable.

I've complained about our continued presence in Iraq on more than one occasion. And yet.... In the back of my mind, there was always the thought that running away while things were so bad wasn't much better than what we did in Afghanistan, and I've complained about that even more. I guess the only reason I never admitted this private thought was that I didn't have any idea at all what we could do by staying that might contribute to an improvement in the situation.

I'm pondering this essay and wondering if these might be the ideas I was looking for.

I guess the bottom line is really going to be the question of whether the neocons want a stable Iraq, or a Middle East that's a fragmented collection of little territories?

Posted by AnneZook at 07:04 PM