Thomas Ricks has a big article
on the WaPo front page about the options being considered by Gen. Peter Pace's strategic review. Frankly, it simply reiterates the Guardian report
from last Thursday that there will be a "short" surge of US troops in an attempt to "shock" Baghdad into security before a shift of roles to training and deployment outside the cities.
The key question I have not seen addressed in any of these "strategy" articles, is how such a surge would affect the Iraqi government. With 70-80% of the Iraqis wanting a US withdrawal, how would this surge be received?
Does Maliki call for it? Is it imposed on him? What does it mean for the legitimacy of his government with the Iraqis if he has no choice?
Despite the fact that this entire effort would be aimed at staunching the violence and better training for the security services, if it undermines the government it will only lead to greater devolution towards illegitimate power centers.
The idea of "training" as a solution is based upon a mistaken understanding of the conflict. The US is attempting to convince the Iraqi military and security forces to fight for an American vision of Iraq, but in reality, the Iraqi conception of the conflict is focused on sect and tribe. They view themselves as currently fighting for their own people, and I don't see how six months of training will change that. The problem is not poor tactics or ill-trained leadership, but idea.
So long as we continue to approach Iraq as an imperial problem to be "won" or "lost" by the Americans, the solutions will continue to stretch farther out of reach. The question that's never asked is, "What do the Iraqis want?" "What do they consider "winning"?"