Saturday, January 13, 2007

Iraq war escalation

I thought George Bush made a good speech on the Iraq situation. He admitted strategic mistakes and addressed the problems caused by support for terrorist factions in Iraq by Syria and Iran – the Arab press see these comments as an indication that war against Iran is imminent and they might be right. The Iranians cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons and dominate the region. Bush resolved to put more effort into dealing with civilian security, particularly in Baghdad, and to put pressure on Prime Minister al-Maliki to restrain the Mahdi Army sponsored by his patron Moqtada al-Sadr and by Iran.

In the end I think Bush’s current judgment – and that of John Howard – is correct. Allowing barbarous thugs, with avowedly anti-western aims, to win in Iraq and to impose their particular brand of sectarian tyranny on Iraq is too costly an outcome - too costly for Iraqis and for the West.

On the other hand with only an additional 21,000 troops the obvious question is, as The Australian editorializes, whether a substantive change in outcomes is likely. The increased troop commitments are anything but a ‘troop surge’ – they are an escalation and one that might be part of a broader strategy in the region to deal with Iran. The cost of the conflict has already been massive for all concerned and the power of the murderous militias is unrelenting. If the terrorist factions in Iraq make the judgment that the increase in troop numbers is only a temporary palliative, until the next US President is elected and withdraws US forces, expectations will drive a self-fulfilling US defeat.

US policy on Iraq must be all-or-nothing. Either withdraw completely or provide enough troops to maintain civil order.

I thought the Aussie blogs would say something about Bush’s speech so I had a quick look around. Most said very little – a survey of the standard leftwing blogs is here. It’s for the most part a routine dismissal of Bush’s arguments - none of it addresses the issues at hand. The situation in Iraq is dire but this is not the time to whistle to the propaganda tune of Iran and the terrorists. I was similarly unimpressed by the points scoring of the Democrats in the US who similarly failed to address the issues raised by Bush.

Aside: By the way William Shawcross writes an interesting piece in The Australian suggesting current signs of improvement in Iraq’s economy.


rabee said... is hardly Arab press. It has nothing to do with the real aljazeera.

I agree, either we send enough troops or completely withdraw. I don't know why Howard is reluctant to increase the number of Australian troops in Iraq.

Sending 20000 will simply strengthen Iran's hand in Iraq.

conrad said...

Harry, apart from the fact that 20,000 troops is irrelevant, no military "all" policy is ever going to win in a place like Iraq (aside from the fact it would bankrupt the nation doing it anyway). Look at Chechnya or Algeria (which had 400,000 troops). Just adding troops troops simply doesn't work.

If the US hadn't invaded Iraq, and instead put its effort into fixing Afghanistan, the world would be an entirely different places right now. One can imagine that they might even have got a bit of support for stopping Iran, which in the long term looks hopeless now -- even bombing them today isn't going to stop them the day after.

hc said...

Conrad, I don't disagree with much you say. Again however there is the 'if only the US had...' which is irrelevant to the current dire situation.

I am not sure 21,500 is irrelevant but agree it might not be enough.

Bring Back CL said...

there are far more insurgents than there are terrorists.

Both are drawn to the honeypot of Iraq because of US troops.

Take them out and you have far less indeed only those in manageable proportions.

Not only do you have sunni/shia , sunni,kurdish killings but shia/shia killings now.

There maybe a solution in Iraq but George Bush ain't going to come up with a solution.