Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Shiite Is Hitting The Fan



Via Sully, here is a gem of a chart potraying how far we have to go towards winning the hearts and minds of the Shiite community in Iraq. It would appear that a clear majority of Shiites now support attacks on American forces, and they want the US to leave even if that causes violence to increase.

I don't think I'm giving any original analysis when I say that the Shiites wouldn't mind us leaving because they feel like they are the dominant power in Iraq. They have superior preponderance, funding (Iran), and political power (the Maliki government). The Shiite community has become emboldened in recent months as they stepped up their attacks on the Sunni community and have even begun to kidnap well-armed and well-protected contractors in broad daylight. True, it hasn't gotten to a point where they are trying such bold attacks on American military personnel, but that seems to be the next logical step.


So what can the US and allies do to fight Shiite extremists through the lens of the recent "Go Big, Go Long, or Go Home" approach? None of the options seem perfect. To "Go Big" this late in the game would have little to no effect. Iran IS the player in southern Iraq, not the US. The Iranian government has already funded the building of a train station and airport in southern Iraq. Furthermore, NBC's Peter Engel has reported that if you're booking a hotel in southern Iraq, you're doing it while speaking Farsi. To also "Go Big" would also be politically impossible as the Maliki government would never let it happen.

The "Go Home" approach also seems highly problematic. As General Abizaid recently testified, civil war is the biggest threat to Iraq, not the insurgency. To "Go Home" would allow further sectarian killings in Baghdad and greater Iraq. Not to mention a likely terrorist haven in the Anbar Province, followed by a likely Turkish invasion of the north, and Iran getting even stronger.

The "Go Long" approach, therefore, is my choice by default--the lesser of two other evils. The "Go Long" strategy might curb violence enough for the Iraqi government to decide for itself to get serious about sectarian violence. More importantly, it would likely prevent further regional chaos. I do, however, believe that it is time to set a time table. I think the time table should be set for a 12-18 months from now, and it would include the pullout of 75% of our troops. I think a deadline will do more to "incentivize" the Iraqi's to get their shit together more than anything else.

...well, guess I have to go back to spending time with my extended family. Shucks.

UPDATE:

Newsweek announces the The Most Dangerous Man In Iraq.

3 comments:

The Geriatric Three said...

Gus-
-Killer find- it raises some hella questions, huh? I'm not so sure about the survey's methodology (it's been a while since Bathke struck me); the N on the survey is 1000 Iraqis "+ 150 Sunni Arab over-sample" (whatever that is). But I'm not gonna quibble over methods. http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/sep06/Iraq_Sep06_quaire.pdf.
-However, once you get into the meat of the survey, some odd things start happening. For one, the numbers are all over the place: Iraqis are guessing about when their own troops can take over for the US, the same for projected violence six months from now, etc.
-It seems this survey suggests something else: Iraqis aren't getting information of any kind (pro or anti-US. There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason as to the distribution of the results.
-Anyone else have thoughts?

displayname said...

The bar for 36% is larger than the bar for 43%.

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