Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Who's Surge Is It, Anyway? In this video from AEI, Frederick Kagan and Gen. Jack Keane, originators of the "surge" strategy, make it as clear as can be that they do not intend for surging U.S. or Iraqi troops to go after on Moqtada al-Sadr's Shiite Mahdi Army or to attempt to enter and clear out the vast Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City.** Yet in his speech tonight, President Bush said (without mentioning Sadr's name) that Iraqi prime minister al-Maliki had given U.S. forces the "green light" to do just that--and news accounts played up the anti-Sadr angle. ... Either Bush's surge is some other kind of surge from the Kagan/Keane surge, or there's some Kabuki goin' on (e.g., al-Maliki doesn't really mean it, and perhaps the Bush administration knows al-Maliki doesn't really mean it, but wants a) Iraqi Sunnis, b) Americans, c) Sadr or d) himself to think he means it). ...
P.S.: Kagan and Keane also wrote:
It is difficult to imagine a responsible plan for getting the violence in and around Baghdad under control that could succeed with fewer than 30,000 combat troops beyond the forces already in Iraq.
Bush is sending "roughly 20,000" additional U.S. troops, according to the NYT. ...
Update: Juan Cole has an idea what the Kabuki is:
I would suggest that PM Nuri al-Maliki's warning to the Mahdi Militia to disarm or face the US military is in fact code. He is telling the Sadrists to lie low while the US mops up the Sunni Arab guerrillas. Sadr's militia became relatively quiescent for a whole year after the Marines defeated it at Najaf in August, 2004. But since it is rooted in an enormous social movement, the militia is fairly easy to reconstitute after it goes into hiding.
But if this is the case, is that a problem for the U.S. strategy, or the key to its implementation--i.e., if "lie low" means the Mahdi Army stops sectarian killings without the U.S. having to attack it?
**--Kagan and Keane want the troops to patrol "Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods," in part to convince Shiites they don't need Sadr's militias, which is different from taking them on. Attacking Sadr in Sadr City, Kagan says, would be a "very bloody opertation" that would "look something like Fallujah." (See video at 9:58.) While we would "win," he argues that it would have the political effect of "driving all of the Shia parties together to oppose us." 11:27 P.M. link
Tuesday, January 9, 2007