Thursday, August 30, 2007

Frank Field already told us this

So what are we going to do about it?

Pure gold reporting on Iraq

This is the single best piece I've ever read on Iraq. If you didn't know a damn thing about the Iraq situation, and just read this, you'd still know more than a lot of newspaper editors and TV news reporters. I presume that the author is a US spy/intelligence officer. Its very clear, very well reported, and full of new information. I am particularly proud that although 'The implications of the tribal revolt have been somewhat overlooked by the news media and in the public debate in Coalition capitals' they have not been overlooked by this blog. His point that 'the strongest positive implications are the possibility that the revolt might help create a self-sustaining local security architecture' is crucial. In a not-particularly-centralised future Iraq, local security guaruntees will be pivotal. If all parts of the population can live peaceably, many of the other problems that will have to be thrashed out between the tribes, religious constituencies and races become negotiable and soluble.

I predicted some weeks back that the 'insurgency' could well be over in three to six months. That is on course right now. That is not to say that all operations will cease- Iran will no doubt try to find willing Shia patsies to fight for them in Shia communities up and down Iraq, but the overall situation in Iraq will be completely transformed. Once the Sunni/AQiI are neutralised, all other combat becomes manageable and relatively easy. The signs appear to be that the Shia population are becoming disenchanted with armed militias, as the Sunni have been for probably at least a year now. Once the militias become more trouble than they are worth to the populace they are extremely vulnerable, and can be picked off at leisure by special forces task groups.

All in all, the positive signs are getting harder and harder to ignore, and large parts of the 'we've lost, lets just admit it and come home' chorus have fallen silent.

Mahdi army details

This piece on The Fourth Rail provides a breakdown of the Mahdi army factions, for those of you who haven't been keeping up. Dealing with an 'organisation' as diverse as the Mahdi army has been and will be enormously difficult for the US and the Iraqi govmt. But now that the threat from the Sunni Baathists/nationalists has receded, the last three major threats to a decent life for Iraqi's are Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Mahdi army and the Badr Brigades. All of them will have to be neutralised as military organisations before the real task of creating civic institutions and a genuine economy can gather momentum. Sadr must be aware that the most dangerous thing to do with a private army is use it- hence his 'freezing' of operations for six months. Whether that will remove the sword of Damocles from the Mahdi army is a different question. For the US, there can be no deviation from the task at hand- and that is the demilitarisation of Iraqi society.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Really not funny

The mainstream press is just now noticing that while the American surge is having manifold effects and a serious impact on the various baddies in central Iraq, the British anti-surge is losing the Shia south. In todays Financial Times, Stephen Fidler and Alex Barker lay out the case against the British government and the British army (Run out of Town: How the British Army lost Basra). The overall impact of the article is that the British government never really bought into the Iraq invasion, never solidly took on its responsibilities, didn't spend any money on reconstruction, and never devised any decent strategy for running its areas. It also castigates the British army for being blase about the Shia militias. The British army actually allied itself with various of the latter occasionally, scotching any possibility of being seen by the Shia public as honest brokers. It also used 'lessons' from Ireland which were completely inapplicable in the Iraqi situation. As the authors point out, there were never more than a few hundred active IRA gunmen and bombers at any one time, whereas all three of the Shia militias in Basra field thousands of gunmen each. Not only that, civil society in Northern Ireland, while battered and abused, had not been completely corrupted and perverted by 27 years of Ba'ath party tyranny.

For the British occupation to succeed, millions of pounds was needed to rebuild infrastructure, the militias should have been destroyed by force, and a troop level of around 30,000 maintained so that the militias could not regroup. Britain would have needed to draw up a comprehensive plan to rebuild Shia society in the south free of the various afflictions which now beset it: gangsterism, fanatical religious mafias, venal public officials and policemen who cannot be trusted. Sadly, the Labour party was almost completely uninterested in the tasks at hand. The groups which were set up by the UK government to control British policy in southern Iraq were soon sidelined by US policy-setting groups and the Pentagon. British troop strength in Iraq is now 5,000. As the article points out, that's just about enough troops for the British to defend their two bases.

The geopolitical situation in Iraq is such that if the Shia south is made available for Iran and the shia militias, there is no hope of peace in the centre. The British government now have a painful choice- bring down Iraq because of their parsimony and pandering to stupid lefty parochialists, or beef up the contingent in Iraq again and have a surge of their own. The US effort shows what boots on the ground does- it suffocates and strangles the insurgency which lives and breathes on room to maneuver. Will the British government suck it up, find the will and complete the task it took on, or like the English football team tonight, show up for half an hour and then wander off pathetically?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Does it matter?

'More than half of people in the UK think the "war on terror" is being lost, a survey for the BBC suggests.
It found 53% believed the UK government was losing the "war on terror" and 56% thought it was being lost by other western governments.
Four out of 10 people questioned said they felt less safe now than when the so-called war on terror began after the 9/11 attacks, while 11% felt safer.'

Do I believe we are winning? Does it matter if more than half the population (of this sample group) think we're losing? Will this perception matter in the final analysis? In the clear sense that the government departments, the British Security Service, the British Army and the Police will fight the fight against global terrorism no matter what any particular poll says, it doesn't matter. That is not to say this poll means nothing- the Spanish voted out the Conservatives immediately after the Madrid bombs and have been heartily dhimmified ever since. It matters quite a lot in a representative democracy how the electorate perceive the big issues like the fight against Wahhabism.

What heartens me is the process currently going on in America. The US population are gradually realising that the surge is having concrete, discernible, genuine effects- and hope is returning. The deep dismay of the US population was always disproportionate to the situation in Iraq; there was never a time when the US wasn't in overall control. But now that serious headway is visible, people who long ago gave up on Iraq are gradually coming back to a position more aligned with the facts. The same can happen here in Britain regarding the war on Wahhabism.

For that to happen, though, a number of things must change. The BBC, which is only interested in the Iraq situation desultorily, reports only large explosions and casualty statistics. Everything else just doesn't pique their curiosity. Most mainstream media outlets have been reporting the Iraq situation as a lost war for so long, they seem unable to take any other position. ITV news in particular has to the best of my knowledge never reported any good news from Iraq. The mainstream media are happy to leave the Iraq situation blurred, suffused with myth, and never challenge any of the prevailing misconceptions people have. Its true that Iraq is a complex, many-sided fight, but its not beyond the wit of the average man to comprehend. By now, most people have heard of Sunni and Shia, but thats probably it in terms of detail. How many people in Britain know that there are two bitter rivals for Shia loyalties, currently fighting it out in Basra? And that attacks on British troops are a way for these two groups to gain credibility and support with locals? And that neither group is a genuine proxy of Iran (yet)?

The politicians of Britain can't seem to be bothered to really get to grips with Iraqi politics either, and certainly don't pass any knowledge they may have on to their electors. So its up to us bloggers to get the knowledge out and keep telling people the devil thats in the details.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How to write about the Surge

We have been accused of being whingers- a terrible slur against all us dedicated writers at 'The House of War'. If you want to hear whingeing, read this article.

Whinge 1:
'Lt. Col. Gian Gentile, with the U.S. Military Academy, noted that his parameters for measuring success in Iraq last year were flawed, in retrospect. He looked at (1) enemy kills; (2) protecting his troops; and (3) minimizing the number of Iraqi civilians killed by enemy forces. Gen. David Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy pursues those goals in opposite order, Gentile said.'

Whinge 2:
Ivan Eland, a senior fellow with the libertarian Independent Institute, told Cybercast News Service that insurgencies defy efforts to measure success.

Whinge 3:
"The enemies only have to wait for the powerful democracy to become war-weary and go home," Eland said.

Whinge 4:
Frederick Kagan, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, is regarded as one of the architects of the administration's new strategy. He claims that other measurements of success Iraq - the political "benchmarks" set by Congress in the Defense supplemental appropriations bill passed this spring - were ineffective.

Whinge 5:
"And so the question is, at the same time as you have people demanding that we change our military strategy from month to month, they're insisting that we continue to pursue the same political strategy all through without any changes and any accounting for variations in the situation in Iraq. It doesn't make sense."

Whinge 6:
But Ivan Eland told Cybercast News Service that even if all of the political benchmarks mandated by Congress are met, "they are still on paper." The fractured Iraqi society will prevent them from ever being implemented, he said."If the administration is smart, they would say that the Iraqis didn't meet them...and use it as an excuse to withdraw."

Whinge 7:
The troop surge -- introducing another 20,000-30,000 troops -- "doesn't even begin to close the gap [in what is needed]," said Preble. "By concentrating forces in one key city, this gives an opportunity for insurgents to move their operations elsewhere, as we are seeing in Basra, for example. In short, I fear that this is a case of too little, too late. But the same can be said of Bush administration policy since the very beginning."

Next month, Gen. David Petraeus, the top general in Iraq, will report to Congress on the U.S. military progress in Iraq. Even before he presents his conclusions, many Democrats are demanding a troop withdrawal.

This is how modern journalism works: First of all, write your conclusion, based on your absolute belief in your own opinions. Second, cadge all the quotes you can from friends or enemies to support your conclusion. Third, write a headline that makes people think you actually put genuine thought and effort into your piece. Voila! You and your Democrap editor can put your feet up and wait for WASP America to die in the bubbling cauldron of its own contradictions. Hurrah!

By the way, a brief perusal of the military and counter-terrorism websites reveals the unfortunate fact that the surge is, in fact, working. Never mind, Evan, better luck next war.

The SADC are not the cavalry

'A senior Zambian official said Sadc had grown tired of the deepening political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe but he did not have a resolution, saying Mr Mbeki's progress report would determine a course of action...

Observers say there is a new mood of realism developing in the region, with Zimbabwe now seen as more than just a domestic problem.'

Its only taken seven years, millions of wasted lives, and the transformation of a pretty decent little country into one of the worlds worst basketcases for the intellectual giants of the SADC and the other utterly fraudulent trans-African bodies to wake up to Zimbabwe's tragedy. Still, they can't leave behind all the tired tropes about neo-colonialism and a plot by Britain and America to destroy Zimbabwe. These are so far past their sell-by that its surprising the media bothers to report them.

The unnamed senior Zambian official rightly points out that 'they did not have a resolution'. A resolution to Zimbabwe's problem, which is Robert Mugabe and the kleptocrats of ZANU PF, would implicate all the other Robert Mugabe's of southern Africa, and their equally kleptocratic cronies. The last thing a resident of a den of theives will do is bring the house crashing down on all their heads. The abysmal cynicism of these people is enough to make you gag- 'Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has called on the people of Zimbabwe to maintain peace at all costs.' Effectively, he is telling them to shut up, stay quiet and die without bothering the people in the air-conditioned Mercs and BMW's. So far, he has had his wish. For how much longer?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Matt Damon pontificates

Matt Damons Moonbat rant in full:

'The actor, who appears in the Bourne thrillers, said: "The Bond character will always be anchored in the 1960s and in the values of the 1960s."
The suave spy was "so anachronistic when you put it in the world we live in today", he said, but added that Bourne was no better or worse than Bond.
Damon was speaking in London, where The Bourne Ultimatum, the third film in the franchise, is having its UK premiere.
"Bond is an imperialist and a misogynist who kills people and laughs about it, and drinks Martinis and cracks jokes," he told reporters.

"Bourne is a serial monogamist whose girlfriend is dead and he does nothing but think about her."
He added that Bourne "doesn't have the support of gadgets, and he feels guilty for what he's done". [I thought you said Bourne was 'no better and no worse than Bond'?]
The first two Bourne outings - The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy - made more than $500 (£250m) at the worldwide box office.
The latest instalment went straight to the top of the North American box office chart.
Damon said he had not ruled out returning for a fourth film - provided that the British director Paul Greengrass also returned to the project.
Greengrass said: "The Bourne franchise is not about wearing Prada suits and looking at women coming out of the sea with bikinis on. It's about essence and truth, not frippery and surface."

It used to be enough to make movies about cool killers and the women who wanted to shag them, but now each movie is also a platform for the stars own personal sociology-cum-film criticism lecture. Actually, if Damon was a little more forthcoming, he'd admit that the whole Bourne series is a moonbat fantasy about crazed spymasters kidnapping and drugging up beautiful young Americans and turning them into robot killers for the fascist American state. And then Frankensteins monster turns on the spymasters and all the moonbats get to cheer him on as Bourne murders them all in beautiful technicolour. See, as long as you murder the right folks, murderin' is fine!

Not another Hezbollah

'“Is there anything you can do to protect yourself?” I asked the young Iraqi.
“What can I do?” he said. “No one can stop Jaysh al Mahdi. They live in the 16th Century. Everyone I know in Sadr City hates Moqtada al Sadr, but they can do nothing. Many people want the Americans to invade.”'

If you get right up to the Iraq situation, and look it squarely in the eye, you can see the big things that the US has not done. In any situation both diplomatic or military, you have to work out who you are going to be able to do business with and who not. The Jaysh Al Mahdi or Mahdi Army were never going to be an effective or trustworthy partner in governance. As this article points out, the proxy model Iran established when it created Hezbollah is very effective. The Jaysh al Mahdi now runs along the same lines that Hezbollah, Hamas and a shadowy nascent group in Syria do.

Are we already too late? All the signs are that if you don't destroy these organisations utterly, they quickly reconstitute. Hezbollah has been pummelled a few times but it is currently flourishing. It is now far more lethal and dangerous than at any time in its existence, and Israel will need to work a lot harder next time to break its back. The Clinton doctrine (put off until tomorrow what you can't be bothered to think about today) is very dangerous with Hezbollah-like organisations. The JAM (Jaysh al Mahdi) are already well along the route to being a state within a state. Before the US leaves Iraq, there will have to be a showdown with it, or risk the recreation of the disaster that is Hezbollah, where the tail wags the Lebanese dog. Iraqis, including the majority of Shia, understand this basic fact. Unless JAM is destroyed, it will destroy the Iraqi state like an enormous cancer.

Why the US is toying about with it, I can't imagine. Grasping the nettle doesn't seem to be a US trait any more. Sadly, the longer they wait, the more young Americans and young Iraqi's will die when the balloon goes up. Perhaps the idea is to pick off one 'problem group' in Iraq at a time. Sometimes, though, you don't have the luxury to work on such a leisurely schedule. Israels generals could give them a pretty vivid rundown of why not.