Ruthless Thoughts on Iraq
I'm reading the New York Times text of the National Security Advisor's memo on Iraqi President Al-Maliki. It is not as negative as the synopses lead ont to believe. However, the memo expresses some doubt as to his ability to stabilise Iraq by taking the steps the Security Advisor's staff reccomends.
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;
Bring his political strategy with Moktada al-Sadr to closure and bring to justice any JAM actors that do not eschew violence;
Shake up his cabinet by appointing nonsectarian, capable technocrats in key service (and security) ministries;
Announce an overhaul of his own personal staff so that “it reflects the face of Iraq”;
Demand that all government workers (in ministries, the Council of Representatives and his own offices) publicly renounce all violence for the pursuit of political goals as a condition for keeping their positions;
Declare that Iraq will support the renewal of the U.N. mandate for multinational forces and will seek, as appropriate, to address bilateral issues with the United States through a SOFA [status of forces agreement] to be negotiated over the next year;
Take one or more immediate steps to inject momentum back into the reconciliation process, such as a suspension of de-Baathification measures and the submission to the Parliament or “Council of Representatives” of a draft piece of legislation for a more judicial approach;
Announce plans to expand the Iraqi Army over the next nine months; and
Declare the immediate suspension of suspect Iraqi police units and a robust program of embedding coalition forces into MOI [Ministry of the Interior] units while the MOI is revetted and retrained."
Doubtful indeed, since most of these things will happen when pigs fly, in my opinion. The Security Advisor is wary of "a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad" which is probably ultimately the only way to establish stability.
Here's my ruthless and probably wrong-headed plan for settling things down in Iraq. Note that I agree that this is a bad plan in response to a bad situation, and the outcome is likely to leave most people unhappy--which is sometimes the mark of a fair settlement.
The US should acknowlege that a state of civil war/insurrection exists in Iraq. I know of no historical situation where a civil war was settled by outside intervention without taking sides. We should obvioulsy be backing the Shia/Kurds, which means that unless they cooperate, the Sunnis go to the wall.
On the one hand, the Sunni minority as a whole richly deserves this. They have profited for decades by having their boot on the neck of the majority, and have continued to foment violence against the Kurds, Shiites, and the Coalition. On the other hand, innocent women and children don't deserve it and everything possible should be done to minimize damage.
This should be done by regularizing the Shiite militias, getting them under government supervision, and thereby curbing the actions of death squads, and ethnic cleansing generally. The Shiite militia forces have the resources, access and street cred to winkle out foreign fighters and unregenerate Saddamists where they hide, which Coalition forces do not and won't ever have.
The Sunni will have the choice of giving up violence and expelling or turning over violent elements in their midst--or not, and taking the consequences.
I consider this the most likely tactic to bring about peace in Iraq, and to tick off absolutely everyone else, except possible the Iranians, who are at odds with us anyway.
It will bring about a majority Shiite state, which should exacerbate all the Sunni states in the region, even though the Kuaitis and Saudis may well reflect that it was the majority Sunni (though secular) goverment of Saddam's Iraq that invaded on and threatened the other. Such a Shiite state would be quite likely to set aside old issues with Iran and become their ally, which is counter to our goals and of course will upset Isreal.
This state is likely to support more Kurdish autonomy, which will make the Turks and everyone with Kurdish minorities unhappy.
So, the best way to achieve our avowed goal of peace in Iraq is to pursue a course which will ultimately contravene all our long term aims--. Not much in the way of good choices.