December 31, 2006
Cordesman, Heisbourg, Etc.
I think one great problem is can we, at this point, really strengthen the Iraqi army? I mean, Tom Ricks of the Post says that out of 121 army battalions there are 10 effective. I would put it at 20 to 30. It certainly isn’t anything like the reports of the units in the lead that are in the press. There was a time where a combination of the best army units and the U.S. could control Baghdad and limit the Mahdi army. I don’t know if that’s still possible. It will not be possible with the police. The fact is the police are going to take at least three to four years to build, and Baghdad is as much of a problem as the countryside. It is a very uncertain issue now. We are – because we deny there is a civil conflict, we have failed to come to grips with it, General Chiarelli pointed out quite, I thought, well. Part of the problem too is you’ve got to solve the economic dimensions. There have to be jobs. There have to be alternatives to civil violence. You have to find ways of limiting this problem of ethnic and sectarian cleansing. Let me put it in terms I think every American can understand. Suppose you had to abandon your house tomorrow without selling it, and most of the things in it. Suppose you worked near where you live and by being forced away from your home, you had to give up your business or your job, and you then had to find a relative or a friend or someplace to go with no capital and no savings. That’s what’s happening in large parts of Baghdad and Iraq. And if we turn this over to the government without adequate constraints and controls, what we are doing is licensing the Shi’ites to try to dominate Baghdad. That will not be peaceful. It will lead to a much more intense civil conflict. And we need to be honest and face these issues.
The Battle for Baghdad will, in large part, ultimately be about whether the U.S. can stave off attempts to Shi'a-ize the entire city, one suspects. In this, the U.S. will have to hope against hope that the impulses of men like those who executed Saddam over the weekend can be moderated, via better security, jobs programs, reconstruction, and the emergence of a more 'moderate' Shi'a politics. Is this even possible, surge or no surge? I don't pretend to know, but let's at least agree that Cordesman is likely correct that allowing the Shi'a to overtake all of Baghdad will only lead to an intensification of the large-scale sectarian violence underway. For anyone in the Administration entertaining the absurd 80% solution, this should be food for thought, one would think.
NB: The link is actually mostly about Afghanistan, and it makes for troubling reading. Cordesman appears particularly disdainful of what he calls "stand-aside forces" in Afghanistan, of which more at the link. The deeper question is whether NATO core member states view 'out of area' peacemaking missions as vital to their national interests. I suspect many of them don't, which explains some of the lackadaisical (at best) efforts underway in theater. For example, see this bit where Cordesman lets loose, in this instance, about the German (non)-role:
Q: Just to understand, why do you classify what the Germans are doing in the north as standing aside? It’s –
When I see this type of stuff now and again, I'm reminded of Francois Heisbourg's cautionary notes in the FT back in November:
In itself, this reduction of Nato’s place in the overall scheme of strategic affairs should not be a big concern for those who live and work beyond the confines of the Nato bureaucracy. After all, Nato is immensely and uniquely useful in fostering interoperability between the military forces of its members, which is key to forming effective coalitions of forces. In a world in which the mission determines the coalition, this ability is more important than ever. Similarly, Nato remains key in ensuring that the partner states of eastern Europe press on with reform of their security sectors.
Now that we actually have a Secretary of Defense in place less worried about his own reputation and bureaucratic standing, or hell-bent on absurdly calling Iraq and Afghanistan successes, but rather hugely more seized of the grave and detiorating situation in both countries--one hopes a better strategic overlay will be brought to bear towards analyzing, not only the grevious errors committed to date in Iraq (and increasingly Afghanistan, given lack of requisite resources and sustained focus), but also the future of alliance structures like NATO that are undergoing a period of real flux and uncertainty.
December 30, 2006
I will shed no tears for Saddam Hussein. An odious genocidaire, he ranks high in the pantheon of 20th Century monsters. But it is clear as day that this judicial process, not least the rush to execution, positively reeked of victor's justice. This is not to say the trial could not have been even worse, as genuine attempts by some in the USG were made to assist the Iraqi authorities in putting together a credible tribunal. But, like the rest of the Iraq War, it was mostly a fiasco (see here for detail regarding some of the many shortcomings in the process).
To be sure, an international war crimes tribunal sitting in the Hague, or a South African style Truth and Reconciliation Commission, either would have been far better than the process we witnessed--particularly given the critical imperative of forging better national reconciliation among Iraq's different ethnic groups and sects. And, yes, as David Kurtz points out, we cannot help sensing in the motley gaggle of hooded hangmen (pictured above) a revanchist, vigilante-style justice that gives the lie to the impartiality of the entire process.
Above all, however, what saddens me in all this was that Saddam was not methodically tried and convicted while alive, not only for the murder of the males of one hapless Shi'a villlage on the outskirts of Baghdad, but for the entire gamut of his despicable crimes--his brutal campaign of genocide in Kurdistan, his massacres of thousands upon thousands of Marsh Arabs, his command decisions during the long Iran-Iraq war, and more. Could we not have tried him in the Hague, even if it lasted past Bush's Presidency, say, on the whole panoply of crimes he was rightly accused of, with witnesses, prosecution and defense teams better protected, rather than under a state of seige, with fewer grave shortcomings in standards of judicial procedure, and above all, with a better sense that justice had been pursued deliberately rather than in a vengeful (however understandable) rush to execution?
P.S. Don't miss John Burns writing this weekend on Saddam's end.
Carrots and Sticks
I found this interview of Javad Zarif, the Iranian Ambassador to the U.N., of interest, particularly this snippet:
As far as U.S. polices are concerned and the aftermath of the Baker-Hamilton report, what is needed is a change in the approach of the U.S. towards Iran, towards Iraq, and towards the region. What has brought all these miseries to the region is that the U.S. has dealt with the region based on wrong perceptions and a totally erroneous approach. The U.S. must come to realize that other countries have interests, have concerns, have anxieties. The U.S. must deal with these anxieties, concerns and interests, and not be concerned with only its own. Of course any country in any situation will try to maximize its national interest. That’s a given. But, you have to address any situation based on a recognition that the other side also has these similar national interests.(Hat Tip: Nikolas Gvosdev)
Saddam's Last Words?
Were they really: "Avoid engagement with Iranians"? Condeleeza Rice would be pleased!
UPDATE: This Haaretz piece has Saddam's last words as "Palestine is Arab". Does anyone have more definitive press accounts of what exactly he said during his final minutes? Perhaps both these things, perhaps neither, but I'd be curious to see. Just by way of trivia and historical comparison, note Adolf Eichmann's last words (another war criminal sentenced to death via a hangman's noose) were: "Long live Germany. Long live Austria. Long live Argentina. These are the countries with which I have been most closely associated and I shall not forget them. I had to obey the rules of war and my flag. I am ready."
MORE: This account, perhaps the most plausible, has Saddam's last words as: "Down with the traitors, the Americans, the spies and the Persians." Don't miss this part either:
When he rose to be led back to the execution room at 6 a.m., he looked strong, confident and incredibly calm. Whatever apprehension he may have had only minutes earlier had faded.
It's somewhat ironic that the guards at Saddam's execution were Sadrites--supporters of arguably our greatest foe in today's Iraq.
Lieberman and the "V" Word
Joe Lieberman: "Rather than engaging in hand-wringing, carping or calls for withdrawal, we must summon the vision, will and courage to take the difficult and decisive steps needed for success and, yes, victory in Iraq. [emphasis added]"
Wow. The "V" word, eh? Even GOP stalwarts like Ed Meese, James Baker and Sandra Day O'Connor have been reticent, of late, to use same (see the ISG report), substituting the more modest "success" for "victory". But "independent" Democrats are more courageous, it appears. Piddling semantic word parsing, perhaps, but one can't help feeling the Senator is rather on the jingo-bullish side--especially, it must be said, given that his op-ed provides precious little by way of the specifics regarding the "vision, will and courage" we are urged to summon up on behalf of la patrie.
P.S. Incidentally, I agree with Lieberman that the paramount challenge we face in Iraq is our failure to provide basic security, but that's a rather blindingly obvious insight by now, isn't it? But when Lieberman writes: "(t)he most pressing problem we face in Iraq is not an absence of Iraqi political will or American diplomatic initiative, both of which are increasing and improving; it is a lack of basic security," one is compelled to ask: what "American diplomitic initiative" could he possibly be speaking of? And one that's "increasing and improving"? Pray tell more, Senator. This observer, at least, is all ears....
Like the seasons coming and going, it seems we are perennially treated to such recurring photo montages of the "war council" convening amidst the Crawford tundra. I guess a sense of resolve and hard work and confidence is meant to be portrayed by these (increasingly tiresome) photo-ops. What I feel instead, alas (with the exception of Bob Gates), is a deep lack of confidence in this team. Their specific skills and aptitudes aside, the bottom line is this: we're nearing four years into this conflict, one we've incessantly been told is the central front in the war on terror and, for all intensive purposes-- the Commander-in-Chief is still without an effective war strategy (having now cast about for weeks in search of one, at very least let's say since Rumsfeld's hugely belated departure). Unpardonable, to quote Chuck Hagel. But that's what happens when a nation rushes to war with cheap swagger, not even planning for an insurgency, or post-conflict stability operations. And when discredited national security actors are (in the main) running the show. (Photo Credit: Evan Yucci/AP)
UPDATE: Related fare, from Bush: "It's my job to listen to a lot of opinions and come up with a strategy that says we have a plan." (via Bruce M via Dan Froomkin)
December 12, 2006
I'm terribly sorry this site has been down these past 4-5 days. I'm not really sure precisely what happened yet, save that access to the site has been severely restricted with most visitors seeing a blank page now for days (as of this writing the side-bars appear to still be down, and I'm not sure comments are working). Given this (continuing) mishap, as well as similar events in the past, I'm very much in the market for an accomplished site design guru to, first and foremost, prevent any such recurrences, to include ensuring I've got enough 'hosting' space on the web, and potentially also doing some varied site re-design work. Basically, I need someone with a range of expertise to perform a major tune-up. Note I'm happy to pay for this service, I just really need someone of quality with a track record to do a really good job of it, and put these types of site melt-down episodes behind us here at B.D. Please E-mail me at email@example.com if you're interested or have any suggestions. Thanks in advance.
UPDATE: I've gotten some initial feedback from site designers and others, and I'll be getting in touch in the coming days. For B.D. readers, I would suggest that you probably start checking back over at this site sometime after the New Year, at which point hopefully it will be functioning well again, and equally important, I'll have some time to write here too. Sorry to be out of commission during a busy time on the foreign policy front, but I've got little choice given varied committments. This said, I do hope to be back in the swing of things in the New Year, though perhaps with slightly different emphases here (of which more later). Best wishes to all during the holidays in the meantime.
December 07, 2006
ISG Excerpts (VII)
Iraq cannot be addressed effectively in isolation from other major regional issues, interests, and unresolved conflicts. To put it simply, all key issues in the Middle East—the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms, and extremism and terrorism—are inextricably linked. In addition to supporting stability in Iraq, a comprehensive diplomatic offensive—the New Diplomatic Offensive—should address these key regional issues. By doing so, it would help marginalize extremists and terrorists, promote U.S. values and interests, and improve America’s global image.
RECOMMENDATION 1: The United States, working with the Iraqi government, should launch the comprehensive New Diplomatic Offensive to deal with the problems of Iraq and of the region. This new diplomatic offensive should be launched before December 31, 2006.
The New Diplomatic Offensive and the work of the Support Group should be carried out with urgency, and should be conducted by and organized at the level of foreign minister or above. The Secretary of State, if not the President, should lead the U.S. effort. That effort should be both bilateral and multilateral, as circumstances require.
With all due respect to a very accomplished Secretary of State (putting POTUS aside for obvious reasons), one wonders whether she'd be up to this hugely complex task, keeping in mind all her other responsibilities, with each of Bob Zeollick and Philip Zelikow no longer around, and given her lack of Middle East expertise. Worth noting too, this isn't giddy "transformational" diplomacy (whatever that means) but rather the plain, old fashioned crisis management and damage control kind.
MORE, from Ignatius:
I like this "New Diplomatic Offensive" precisely because it is so ambitious. It would put the United States back in the business of trying to solve the Arab-Israeli problem, which has been driving the Middle East crazy for nearly 40 years. As for Iran and Syria, the great advantage of asking them to join a global effort to stabilize Iraq is that if they say no, it's blood on their hands. As the report notes, "An Iranian refusal to do so would demonstrate to Iraq and the rest of the world Iran's rejectionist attitude and approach, which could lead to its isolation."
I'm not sure the linkage Ignatius makes between the ISG's recommendations and the Obaid op-ed should be quite this direct (update: and see this comment), but having passed through DC for a meeting the day the piece appeared in the Washington Post, I must say it did strike me as somewhat of an atypical opinion piece by Saudi standards, in its attention-grabbing manner, and the timing was not uninteresting either. More on all this soon, including more detail on strategies for U.S. leverage on Iran and Syria that Ignatius doesn't mention, and that might profitably be fleshed out some more in relation to the ISG's recommendations. This Itamar Rabinovich piece is still important for broad context too, I'd think, regarding the Syrian track, and here is some of my initial (hastily put together) analysis.
ISG Excerpts (VI)
The Defense Department and the intelligence community have not invested sufficient people and resources to understand the political and military threat to American men and women in the armed forces. Congress has appropriated almost $2 billion this year for countermeasures to protect our troops in Iraq against improvised explosive devices, but the administration has not put forward a request to invest comparable resources in trying to understand the people who fabricate, plant, and explode those devices.
ISG Excerpts (V)
Recommendation 62: As soon as possible, the U.S. government should provide technical assistance to the Iraqi government to prepare a draft oil law that defines the rights of regional and local governments and creates a fiscal and legal framework for investment. Legal clarity is essential to attract investment.
ISG Excerpts (IV)
RECOMMENDATION 46: The new Secretary of Defense should make every effort to build healthy civil-military relations, by creating an environment in which the senior military feel free to offer independent advice not only to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon but also to the President and the National Security Council, as envisioned in the Goldwater-Nichols legislation.
Why, I wonder what this could be about?
U.S. military forces, especially our ground forces, have been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the repeated deployments in Iraq, with attendant casualties (almost 3,000 dead and more than 21,000 wounded), greater difficulty in recruiting, and accelerated wear on equipment.
Thank God Rumsfeld is out.
ISG Excerpts (III)
RECOMMENDATION 21: If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government.
I'm going to go out on a limb and call this the Panetta/Perry clause.
See also, very importantly:
While these efforts are building up, and as additional Iraqi brigades are being deployed, U.S. combat brigades could begin to move out of Iraq. By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations teams, and in training, equipping, advising, force protection, and search and rescue. Intelligence and support efforts would continue. Even after the United States has moved all combat brigades out of Iraq, we would maintain a considerable military presence in the region, with our still significant force in Iraq and with our powerful air, ground, and naval deployments in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar, as well as an increased presence in Afghanistan. These forces would be sufficiently robust to permit the United States, working with the Iraqi government, to accomplish four missions:
Amidst this withdrawal oriented talk, however, do note at p. 73:
Because of the importance of Iraq to our regional security goals and to our ongoing fight against al Qaeda, we considered proposals to make a substantial increase (100,000 to 200,000) in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. We rejected this course because we do not believe that the needed levels are available for a sustained deployment. Further, adding more American troops could conceivably worsen those aspects of the security problem that are fed by the view that the U.S. presence is intended to be a long-term “occupation.” We could, however, support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad, or to speed up the training and equipping mission, if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective.
I think the Baker-Hamilton Commission (as well as people like Zinni) are holding open the "surge" option for various reasons, including: A) by not going the Gelb-Biden federalism route, trying to stabilize Baghdad becomes even more critical (as some sustainable central authority being nurtured there is imperative if hopes of securing a viable, unitary polity are to be credibly maintained) and B) diplomacy with Syria and Iran would likely be enhanced by a show of American strength in the Iraqi capital, so that we are not seen to be negotiating from a position of blatant weakness.
ISG Excerpts (II)
Engaging Iran is problematic, especially given the state of the U.S.-Iranian relationship. Yet the United States and Iran cooperated in Afghanistan, and both sides should explore whether this model can be replicated in the case of Iraq.
"Dialogue" and "isolation" are touchstone words in Iran in the context of Iranian national interests and diplomacy, which is to say, the players that matter in Teheran will understand well the meaning of those words. In short, if Bush signs on to the Baker-Hamilton approach, agrees to engage with Iran over the Iraq issue (with possible regional overlays), and is then rebuffed by Teheran--the United States will be on much firmer footing to isolate Iran--even, to a significant degree, with countries like Russia and China. (Not being "rebuffed" doesn't mean there can't be difficult exchanges, but certainly if the U.S. makes a good faith effort to move the Iraq agenda forward cooperatively with Iran, only to then be scuttled by Teheran, the U.S. will be better positioned to move to further isolate Iran, likely materially weakening its global position. Worth noting too, "isolation" is something Iran tries to avoid at all costs, and as they have often in the past spoken of their desire to have constructive "dialogue" with various nations, calling their bluff on this score (at least to a fashion), is a smart move, in my view).
Also important to review in this context is "Recommendation 10", which puts the nuclear agenda on a wholly separate track (not really a major concession, as Baker-Hamilton are speaking mostly of a limited Iraq channel with Iran, not pursuing a "Grand Bargain" with the nuclear issue carved out), and see more at p. 51 (carrots that could be provided to Iran--including reassurance on the regime change issue, see roman "v") and p. 53 (positive actions Iran could take to help us in Iraq). Frankly, if I had to guess, I think Baker is somewhat skeptical that Iran will really step up, but is more interested in peeling Damascus away from Teheran's orbit some.
P.S. On moving Syria away from Iran, see importantly "Recommendation 15" and "Recommendation 16", which might signal to Asad (if Bush signs on to this approach, of course) that the U.S. could be re-emerging as an 'honest broker' on the Arab-Israeli front:
RECOMMENDATION 15: Concerning Syria, some elements of that negotiated peace should be:
Syria’s full adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of August 2006, which provides the framework for Lebanon to regain sovereign control over its territory.
Note: See also Recommendation 17 on the Palestinian issue.
ISG Excerpts (I)
The Gelb-Biden approach rejected (p. 39)
The costs associated with devolving Iraq into three semiautonomous regions with loose central control would be too high. Because Iraq’s population is not neatly separated, regional boundaries cannot be easily drawn. All eighteen Iraqi provinces have mixed populations, as do Baghdad and most other major cities in Iraq. A rapid devolution could result in mass population movements, collapse of the Iraqi security forces, strengthening of militias, ethnic cleansing, destabilization of neighboring states, or attempts by neighboring states to dominate Iraqi regions. Iraqis, particularly Sunni Arabs, told us that such a division would confirm wider fears across the Arab world that the United States invaded Iraq to weaken a strong Arab state.
I've been overwhelmed with work and other obligations but did have a chance to make a rapid first-cut through the ISG report. While I don't have time to analyze it in any detail, I will post some of the key passages tonight, and then turn to analysis as soon as time allows. Sorry that's the best I can do right now, but there are only so many hours in the day.
December 06, 2006
It is the season of the memos. Hadley's. Rumsfeld's. More soon, perhaps. These were leaked (purposefully by their respective authors, or on their express direction, in my view) rather transparently so as to say: 'see, we've got ideas too!'--before the much more detailed Baker-Hamilton recommendations are released tomorrow. A somewhat pitiable display of bureaucratic butt-covering, it would appear, but there it is. Regardless, and while we await the release of the ISG's recommendations, it is worth noting perhaps the massive disconnect between the rather clinical recommendations captured in these memos and the actual situation in Iraq. For instance, both Hadley and Rumsfeld appear keen to lessen Shi'a influence in the Ministries, but alas, much more easily said than done, it would appear.
Compel his ministers to take small steps — such as providing health services and opening bank branches in Sunni neighborhoods — to demonstrate that his government serves all ethnic communities;
Next, Rumsfeld: "Aggressively beef up the Iraqi MOD and MOI, and other Iraqi ministries critical to the success of the ISF — the Iraqi Ministries of Finance, Planning, Health, Criminal Justice, Prisons, etc. — by reaching out to U.S. military retirees and Reserve/National Guard volunteers (i.e., give up on trying to get other USG Departments to do it.)"
And then, grim realities, via Nir Rosen:
With the January 30, 2005, electoral success of the Shia parties, the balance of power between Shias and Sunnis shifted, initiating an apartheid process. In the ministry of health, pictures of Muqtada and his father were everywhere, along with pictures of Shia saints and banners celebrating Shia holidays. Traditional Shia music reverberated through the hallways. Doctors and ministry employees referred to the minister of health as “imami,” or “my imam,” as though he were a cleric. And in the ministry of transportation, walls were adorned with Shia posters, including some specifically supporting Muqtada. Sadrists instituted a program they called “cleansing the ministry of Saddamists,” with “Saddamist” defined so broadly that all Sunnis felt vulnerable. Ousted Sunnis were replaced by Shias with no apparent qualifications. In one case, a Sunni chief engineer in the transportation ministry was fired and replaced with an unqualified Shia who wore a cleric’s turban to work. Efficiency dropped; the ministries of health and transportation barely functioned, and the ministry of the interior operated an anti-Sunni death squad. Its secret prisons were uncovered in November 2005.
No military expert was more forthright in opposing the war in Iraq than Anthony Zinni.
Even in the context of pressuring the Iraq government to 'perform' (whatever that might mean) by intimating troop reductions are likely and that U.S. forces won't be in country forever, and even in the context of focusing more on training and equipping and related capacity-building of Iraqi Forces via embeds (rather reverse or otherwise)--it appears the situation in Baghdad is so immensely critical that sane observers like Tony Zinni favor a short-term surge (such a move would also allow us to dialogue with Damascus and Teheran from a position of greater strength, rather than with the capital city of Iraq capsizing into greater chaos).
Quote of the Day
Senator Kennedy, the -- 12 graduates of Texas A&M have been killed in Iraq. I would run in the morning with some of those kids. I’d have lunch with them. They’d share with me their aspirations and their hopes. And I’d hand them their degree, I’d attend their commissioning, and then, I would get word of their death. So this all comes down to being very personal for all of us.
While I am open to alternative ideas about our future strategy and tactics in Iraq, I feel quite strongly about one point: Developments in Iraq over the next year or two will, I believe, shape the entire Middle East and greatly influence global geopolitics for many years to come. Our course over the next year or two will determine whether the American and Iraqi people, and the next president of the United States, will face a slowly, but steadily improving situation in Iraq and in the region, or will face the very real risk, and possible reality, of a regional conflagration. We need to work together to develop a strategy that does not leave Iraq in chaos, and that protects our long-term interests in and hopes for the region. I did not seek this position or a return to government. I am here because I love my country and because the president of the United States believes I can help in a difficult time.
"2,889 killed in Iraq as of yesterday morning." It is heartening to see a high-ranking Defense official stressing in Congressional testimony the exact human toll this conflict has exacted on our Armed Services, especially as I recall a senior Pentagon official (not too long ago) struggling to remember how many of our troops had died in Iraq (also during Hill testimony).
Gates on Iran, Syria
SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D-WV): Mr. Chairman, I thank you.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to add my voice to many others who have praised you for your leadership. I’ve really enjoyed being on this committee, and you’ve made it a real pleasure to serve here.
Gates: I’m not optimistic that a negotiation with Iran would provide a lot of benefit. I know that -- as you well know, I co-chaired this Council on Foreign Relations study on U.S. policy toward Iran in 2004, with Dr. Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, and we recommended a negotiation with Iran. But I would say that the conditions have changed fairly dramatically since we wrote that report. Among other things, Iran has a new leader who is quite unambiguous about his views of the rest of the world.
SEN. BAYH: One final question, Mr. Gates, with regard to Iran and their nuclear aspirations. I agree with your assessment of why they seek to have a nuclear capability. They impress me as the kind of individuals, the leaders of their country, that will only respond to the prospect of forceful steps; rhetoric alone probably will not be enough. I’ve been told that they see our continued presence in Iraq as a constraining factor on us, that it limits us from having as credible a deterrent with regard to Iran as we need to have to get them to give up their nuclear aspirations, or to at least give us the best chance of accomplishing that.
I see much less cheap bravado and empty posturing above, in favor of more sanity and sobriety, certainly as compared to Mr. Gates' predecessor.
Note: Transcript here.
December 05, 2006
Anyone who wishes to argue Iraq is currently not in a state of civil war should at very least deign to grapple with this must-read article. And while I don't care too much what Matt Lauer's views are on the matter, frankly, I do very much take Colin Powell and Kofi Annan's views on this same question with utmost seriousness. More background here, and this link has experts weighing in on whether Iraq was in a state of civil war back in September '05--when the situation was not as bad as now. For my part I think the sectarian blood-letting has gotten so awful it matters little what label we ascribe to it, save that Powell has a point when he says: "I have been using it (the phrase 'civil war') because I like to face the reality." Which is to say, our policymakers need to understand at very least that significant ethnic cleansing is taking place in certain parts of Iraq, and that Baghdad today is seeing conditions not unlike (and often worse) those that prevailed in Beirut from '75-'91 during the Lebanese Civil War. As I said, read this grim article for more.
About Belgravia Dispatch
Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.
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