Jan

31

I know this is not a political website, but let me make a prediction about something that will have dramatic consequences, economic and otherwise: Bush (or more precisely the U.S.) will succeed in Iraq, in the sense that within a year the situation there will be significantly calmer that it is today, to the point that it will be hard to argue that it's not a relative success, whatever the definition. I've been following the conflict very closely in minute detail for at least a year based on all available public information. For the first time I believe the U.S. has reached critical mass, based on the latest military, local political, and economic trends and very recent achievements by the U.S. military on the ground. Also the tactics have finally been improved to an acceptable level. With all Democrats of importance heavily and very publicly invested in the notion that to continue there is unequivocal madness, and that some form of "phased redeployment" is the only way to go, and a general consensus of people sympathetic to the cause that anything that Bush will do is too little too late, the political (and economic) implications are enormous.

Gary Rogan follows up:

First some evidence:

(a) There was a recent major win in one of the two troublesome provinces outside of Baghdad. This was a major operation involving mostly Iraqi troops with American support that demonstrated the ability to properly cooperate on the battlefield in a mixed Suni-Shia province. [Read IA, CF shut down terrorist group ‘The Council’]

(b) As the Jan. 28 entry (and many others) from this trusted blog of a Baghdad resident demonstrates that the intent of the surge is having an effect already. It's worth reading many other entries to realize how much more positive the situation in Baghdad is than is reported in mainstream media.

(c) It's worth reading this journal from an independent correspondent who went to Al-Anbar and Musul (the latest) to learn about the optimism of American troops and exciting levels of cooperation between the Iraqi Army and American soldiers.

It's worth noting that there's been a dramatic and unexplained surge of police recruitment in the worst cities of the Anbar province, such as Faludja nad Ramadi, as evidenced in the journal and a U.S. military press release, which can be found further down in this post.

(d) Read about the dramatic surge of the Iraqi dinar after the Nov. American election.

It is likely that the violence in October was in a large part designed to influence the American election.

(e) It's worth reading the opinions on this Iraqi scholar about the turnaround in Baghdad and many other things in different articles.

(f) Read about the U.S. military opinion about operations and overall changes in the Anbar province.

There are other press releases attesting to the dramatic turnaround in the number of tribes supportive/neutral to the Coalition that used to be opposed.

(g) Read about the fairly dramatic transfers to the Iraqi forces of the local military theater control.

This and many other pieces of evidence show that outside of Baghdad (and to some degree even there, although it's much more problematic in the mixed Sunni-Shia areas), the Iraqi forces with American Air and logistics support can maintain security.

As to other things that shape my opinion where I won't provide links:

-Recent visits by many other bloggers/independent journalists to Iraq that indicate the level of optimism of the troops and cooperation between the Iraqi forces and the U.S.

-Recent changes in rules of engagement targeting Iranian agents that used to be caught and released. Much greater understanding of the role of Iranians in supplying both Shia (their natural allies) and Baathist and Sunni religious extremists due to the recent raids in Irbil and Baghdad.

-Indications to other classified changes to the rules of engagement that will make it easier for American forces to fight.

-Selection of a very intelligent general (Petraeus) to lead the fight in Iraq. Although not everyone likes him, he has made achievements in Mosul, he has a penchant for self-promotion, and his intelligence is admired by most people. He did achieve many good things in Mosul and has just personally written the U.S. anti-insurgency manual. He has a Ph. D. in International Relations, which is no cureall, obviously, but it's some indication that he can think more broadly than a typical military man.

-Selection of Admiral Fox for the Central command. The admiral has proven to be very good in the Pacific in fighting the war on terror.

-Various articles and press-releases indicate that the economic growth in Iraq has become at the top of the Middle East category, perhaps the fastest.

In summary, the anti-American forces are being worn down by continuous decimation, the economy is improving, the Iraqi military forces are able to function and they do not continuously turn on their American masters. The sectarian violence has started to subside, although very slowly. In fact, the previous sectarian violence has worked somewhat to separate the warring fractions. Most areas of Iraq are dominated by one sect or another and are not subject to sectarian violence. Concerning the extent to which the violence is occurring, it was triggered by a determined enemy campaign terminating in the destruction of the Golden Mosque of Samarra a year ago. This didn't happen by accident, which means it's not "natural." The Kurdish areas are achieving incredible economic success and are not violent. They also create a permanent stable platform for the U.S.

Gary Rogan further adds:

As it's becoming clear to the party of defeat that the war may in fact be won if the current course of event is left unaltered and that the whole Iraq Surrender Group effort was just a head fake, a dilemma has arisen: now that it has been publicly stated that the war is lost, can that loss be left to chance? The consequences of an "inadvertent" win would be so catastrophic to the radical agenda that the resounding answer is "no." The epic, but all in the family struggle between the "Pant Suite" and the "Rock Star" must take the back seat to the important business of running out the clock before the game is over. The experts on constitutional law have been lined up to state that it's possible. "Their own man" from Nebraska has been found for the bi-partisan illusion, new exciting scatalogical slogans have been given to the hoi polloi to chant on the barricades, and Barbarella came out of retirement. Unlike the sixties, the time frame is six months. Let the games begin.

Stefan Jovanovich comments:

I agree with Charles that we chose the easiest country (along with Afghanistan) with which to tangle. However, given the forces used and the constraints of politics, Iraq and Afghanistan were probably the only countries that we could have attacked. As targets, they shared the advantage of having secure staging areas for air cover - the bases in the Gulf and Diego Garcia - and compliant neutrals/allies on the enemy's border - Kuwait and Pakistan. The primary mistake in the pre-war planning for Iraq was the presumption that Turkey would be equally compliant. Their refusal to allow any supply or transit through their territory gave the Baathists an open evacuation route to Syria. We can guess what escaped to Syria in the first two months of the war, but I doubt that even the Pentagon really knows the full extent of what was evacuated. The Israelis probably know, but by now it is in no one's domestic political interest for the truth to come out. The Administration would have to concede that it made a true blunder, and the Democratic Congress might have to listen to testimony that "yes, there really was some nasty stuff that Saddam had locked away."

North Korea did not offer as comparatively easy a target four years ago. Given the political situation in South Korea and Japan in 2003, it is inconceivable that their governments would allow us to stage an invasion of North Korea or even air strikes from our bases on their territories. I doubt they would even allow us to take Congressman Murtha's suggestion and use Okinawa as a destination for our 9,000 mile retreat from Baghdad.

It is equally hopeless to assume that Russia would have allowed us to stage an invasion of Iran from the north in 2003. With U.S. forces' present control of Iraq, an invasion of Iran from the west, beginning probably from Sulaymaniyah, would certainly be feasible. However, four years ago, without control of Iraq, the only available invasion routes would have been from the South, from the Indian Ocean, from the East, or from either Afghanistan or Pakistan. None of those seem like a particularly attractive proposition, given the historical precedents and political realities on the ground. To invade from the south would even now be particularly foolhardy. Alexander's one military defeat was in his return from India through Southern coastal Persia; he lost nearly the same percentage of his initial force as Napoleon did in the march back from Moscow.


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