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.
Newsweek announces the The Most Dangerous Man In Iraq.