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Fri

25

Jan

2008

Call me Crazy (Again)
Friday, 25 January 2008 02:48
by Stephen P. Pizzo

Some days I wonder if I'm becoming delusional. You know, the kind of person who sees and hears things that no one else sees or hears. Or, worse, the kind of person who finds himself surrounded by a handful of folks who also see and hear things that few others hear and see and who assure me, "we're not crazy, everyone else is crazy."

I mean here were are now in the midst of an economic collapse of historic proportions that some of us have seen coming for a couple of years. Now suddenly that we're on the rocks all those folks who accused us of seeing problems that did not exist, are now promising to fix those very problems.

(Nevertheless we, of course, are still the crazy ones.)

But, don't worry, I'm not going to beat that horse today. Buy on the rumor, sell on the news, and that news is now old-news.

No, today I want to flog another dead horse "the voices" have been bugging me about — the surge. You might have heard — it's "working."

Every time I hear a politician or general boasting that "the surge is working," the voices roar in my head, "What the f — - are those people talking about?"

It really comes down to this: either they are lying to us (again) or I need to go on anti-psychotic medication immediately.

You tell me which it is. Here's what the "voices" tell me is actually going on with the surge. As my old Marine DI used to like to put it — "by the numbers:"

1) Once Iraq's minority Sunnis were driven out power by US forces, they accepted offers of help from al Queda in the hope that al Queda's suicidal nut cakes would destabilize the new US-backed Shiite-dominated government.

2) But, as I wrote long ago, terrorists rarely succeed because they eventually "crap in the own mess kits." That is, they generally end up turning on their hosts, because terrorists tend to be either political and/or religious fundamentalist. And for a fundamentalist no one is ever "pure enough." Sooner or later fundamentalists begin fighting even with their supporters. And that's precisely what happened in the Sunni areas of Iraq. Al Queda fighters abused their hosts and wore out their welcome.

3) Besides wearing out their welcome, Sunnis also came to realize that al Queda's tactics would never defeat the US and Iranian-backed Shiites in Baghdad. In fact, if the Americans left Iraq right then (pre-surge) it was certain that Iran would move right in to fill the security vacuum.

4) So, even before the surge began, Sunni leaders and US commanders suddenly had something in common — al Queda. So, both parties struck a classic Faustian deal: if Sunni insurgents stopped their anti-US and anti-government attacks the US would arm and fund Sunni militias in their new fight against al Queda.

5) Even long before Bush's surge troops arrived in Iraq this new tactic had slashed US casualties and put al Queda in Iraq on the run.
A cursory examination of the above might lead the uncurious to accept administration claims that "the surge is working." If lower US casualties were the benchmark, the surge "worked" before it even began.

But in fact, if the surge is "working," it's actually working in the same way a near identical tactic worked two decades ago in Afghanistan. Back then the US armed the Mujahideen in their fight against Soviet occupiers. That "worked" too — at least in the short run. Today those same US-backed Afghan fighters are now killing US and NATO forces and destabilizing neighboring Pakistan. How's that "working" out?

When it comes to alliances in that part of the world, "working" is a term of art — the art of the tribal politics of convenience. You know, 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Once the common enemy has been dealt with the "working" relationship dissolves, usually to be immediately replaced by the status quo ante as the former allies revert to enemies once again.

And that's just what is happening in Iraq now that al Queda has been chased out of Sunni areas. Now the Sunnis are back to trying to figure out how to prevent majority Shiites from succeeding. Now, thanks to their temporary American friends, Sunni militias are better trained and far better equipped than they were after being chased out of government with little more than the shirts on their backs following Saddam's dethroning by US forces.

Ah, so now what?

Well the "voices" tell me that, with al Queda on the ropes, and US troops having one foot out the door, the Sunni insurgency will soon switch its (violent) attentions back to destabilizing the US/Iranian-backed government in Baghdad.

None of this has been lost on Iraq's equally shady Shiite leaders. They've been warning the US against the arming of Sunni militias since the get go. After all, Americans may new to all this, but the Shiites and Sunnis have been at this for a thousand years. They know each other well — too well. The last thing the newly entrenched Shiite rulers of Iraq want is to be stuck with a robust Sunni insurgency after their US protectors leave.

That's why they've decided to nip that little problem in the bud, while the nipping good.

At least that how the voices see it.

Oh, look, the voices were right - again:
Attacks Imperil U.S.-Backed Militias in Iraq

BAGHDAD — American-backed Sunni militias who have fought Sunni extremists to a standstill in some of Iraq’s bloodiest battlegrounds are being hit with a wave of assassinations and bomb attacks, threatening a fragile linchpin of the military’s strategy to pacify the nation. At least 100 predominantly Sunni militiamen, known as Awakening Council members or Concerned Local Citizens, have been killed in the past month, mostly around Baghdad and the provincial capital of Baquba. Violence is also shaking up the Awakening movement, many of whose members are former insurgents, in its birthplace in the Sunni heartland of Anbar Province.

Born nearly two years ago in Iraq’s western deserts, the Awakening movement has grown to an 80,000-member nationwide force, four-fifths of whose members are Sunnis. American military officials credit that force, along with the surge in United States troops, the Mahdi Army’s self-imposed cease-fire and an increase in Iraqi security forces, for a precipitous drop in civilian and military fatalities since July.
(Full Story)
So, "the surge is working." But for whom? And for how long? And what about later?

"Later" is important.. maybe more important than the here and now. Exactly what may grow from the seeds planted by this temporary marriage of connivence between US forces and Sunni insurgents? We never saw the bitter harvest we'd reap from the same unholy alliance we made in Afghanistan during the 1980s with anti-Soviet Afghan insurgents. Those tactics were seen as "working" back then too as the Soviets were chased out of Afghanistan.

What we didn't see coming was that arming and training those Afghan insurgents then had set in motion events that would, years later, result in the attacks of 9/11. Those well-armed Afghan insurgents, once victorious, became the Taliban, who in turn harbored and supported al Queda, which, from its safe havens in Afghanistan, planned the 9/11 attacks. Cause - effect.

So maybe I'm crazy. But I find it difficult to accept, based on what I see and hear every day, that Bush's surge in Iraq is "working." If it is working, how so? What metrics are those claiming so using? And what do those temporary Sunni allies of ours have in mind for the days when we leave them and their Shiite enemies to settle matters on their own?

What will Iran do then?

What will we do then?

We didn't ask those questions back in the 1980s in Afghanistan. Instead we decided the short term results were good enough, why bother extrapolating events into the future.

Now look, we're back in Afghanistan, this time big time. Did our arming of Afghan insurgents really "work" in light of events that followed?

With all that in mind, I ask, have those claiming the surge in Iraq is working considered what follows? How will Iraq's minority Sunnis use the billions of dollars in arms, equipment and training in the months and years ahead? Believe me, the Shiites have made those calculations, they don't like the results, and they have no intention of letting them happen.

Neither do the Sunnis, for whom the surge really has worked, putting them back into the game by the same US forces who knocked them out of the game just five bloody years ago.

Now that's crazy. 
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Albert Kayda said:

0
Yeah, but...
So, 19 guys from caves with box cutters did nine-eleven? You must be crazy.

 
January 26, 2008
Votes: +0

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