Lounsbury has a post on ‘Aqoul on the current predicament in Iraq that I think deserves a lot more attention and discussion than it’s getting. Lounsbury is a financier currently living and working in Morocco with business dealings all over the Middle East and North Africa and experience with Iraq in particular.
Lounsbury believes that the situation in Iraq has entered an inexorable phase of sectarian and ethnic violence not unlike that which has prevailed in Lebanon for a generation:
As I have been indicating for a rather long time, Iraq long ago (say early 2004) entered into a ‘Lebanese logic’ which rather made the creeping civil war situation in Iraq, that is clear for anyone with eye to see, inevitable.
Now, the simple minded I suppose expect(ed) this to explode all at once. It has not and will not. Rather, as in Lebanon, it will creep forward in fits and starts until it is undeniably there for even the most deluded. The self segregation, the inter-community killings and hardening of lines despite decades of friendship, etc., that is already ongoing and there is frankly nothing substantial in terms of Iraqi dynamics counter-weighing this. Iraqi dynamics are all that count, not Americans running around claiming idiotic body counts, not hand waving pseudo-political excercises masquerading as democracy to please the gullible Westerners who think such things have meaning in such circumstances, not anything but Iraqi social dynamics.
There is, in short, nothing that is substantively running against the power dynamic of the hard men with guns. Nothing, period, regardless of the idiotic self-deluded happy talk I have seen now for three f***ing years running. Good news from Iraq, indeed. Even in the depths of any civil war one can find “good news” – it’s intelligent analysis that gets one understanding.
As I understand his reasoning, he believes:
- Sectarian and ethnic fighting has already begun in Iraq.
- Without a change in the actual dynamics of the situation among Iraqis, the violence will only grow.
- What the Brits and Americans are doing now is just slowing down the internecine conflagration.
- Iraqicization will not solve the problem because the people who comprise the new Iraqi military and police are, themselves, part of the problem.
I believe this post should be taken seriously, discussed dispassionately, and reasoned through. I’m convinced that he knows what he’s talking about, doesn’t have a partisan political axe to grind with respect to U. S. domestic politics, and, if anything, his best interests reside in his being wrong. There’s an old rabbinic saying: If a woman comes from a far country and tells you she’s divorced, believe her. In legal parlance this is called a Declaration Against Interest and is accorded extra weight as evidence (it’s an exception to the Hearsay Rule).
The question, then, is not to delude oneself about what the real dynamics are, but ask in what ways can one deal with it. The reactor core is already melting down, pretending that one can find a few more control rods and all will be well is mere self delusion. The question becomes how to deal with the meltdown – and not to, in the process, turn the situation into a supercritical mass and booooom.
I am afraid I lack the genuis to suggest real solutions here, my sole contribution in this context is to strip away the delusional nonsense that many parties are engaging in (or as usual, domestic politics masquerading as foreign).
The debate that was set off in the United States, as far as I can tell from afar, is something long overdue. Rather than idiotic rhetoric, there should be cold assessment of the situation based on Iraqi realities, not misframed Anglo American considerations.
The ensuing comments are good, too. Particularly to the point is the second comment from ZenPundit Mark Safranski:
The conundrum for the U.S. is that it cannot win militarily in Iraq without recourse to tactics that are politically unacceptable – i.e. total war ” free-fire” counterinsurgency operations – and to which the Bush administration is unwilling to pay for by raising another 300,000 troops to implement in any event. As long as the U.S. is not winning militarily the Sunni community in Iraq, sees no reason to negotiate an end to their insurgency
That’s a very succinct description of one of the most important reasons I opposed the invasion to start with. My judgment was that outright victory required means (and losses) that the domestic political support for the invasion would not sustain.
So, read this outstanding post and the comments. Perhaps you have the genius to propose a workable solution.
UPDATE: The flurry du jour is directly related to the subject matter of Lounsbury’s post. Cardinalpark at Tigerhawk joins in:
I’ll repeat what I’ve said many times. Iraq is already “won.” The enemy leader and his heirs are in jail or dead. A new democratic government has been elected, a constitution voted upon and ratified and new elections are upcoming. Boots also cites data which reveals dramatic economic and military progress as well.
Lounsbury’s point remains the dog in the manger: so long as nothing changes the dynamics of the situation in Iraq and the motivations of all the parties remains the same the new government will continue to be at risk without a major U. S. military presence. Can that presence be sustained indefinitely with an ongoing (albeit small) casualty count?