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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Monday, July 23, 2007

When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail

The NYTimes tonight carries an article on the midterm planning being done by Petraeus and Crocker in Iraq.
While Washington is mired in political debate over the future of Iraq, the American command here has prepared a detailed plan that foresees a significant American role for the next two years.

The classified plan.... calls for restoring security in local areas, including Baghdad, by the summer of 2008. “Sustainable security” is to be established on a nationwide basis by the summer of 2009, according to American officials familiar with the document.....

The goals in the document appear ambitious.....

Gee, I wonder if Petraeus' September report will support this plan.

There's a far bigger issue here and it reflects the poorly adapted tools the US has left to leverage events in Iraq. The problems in Iraq are political, not military, and although security is important, there's nothing but hope to think that security will lead to political reconciliation.

The thing is, the US no longer holds any sway over the Iraqi politicians and sectarian groups, so they're using the one poorly fitting tool available, security where US troops stand, in order to try and sway events in Iraq.

The very real politics of divvying up the power and resources are driving the conflict, and there's no indication that easing the violence, assuming that "ambitious" goal is reachable, will lead to political reconciliation.

As soon as the US leaves, the real battle for Iraq will begin.

(Later: I should probably note this is a Michael Gordon byline.)


  • "We are going to try a dozen different things..." They are floundering. I think this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature. People simply do not like being dictated to by other people...especially if they come from a different culture and religion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:35 PM  

  • I'm reminded of Baldrick from Blackadder, "I have... a cunning plan!"

    This administration's had six years of "cunning plans" all with unwavering assurances of success. The common thread of all these plans is their universal and colossal failure. What, in the name of God, makes anyone think cunning plan #8,732 will the THE plan that finally works.

    Yes, everything's a nail. Too bad the Iraq is jello.

    By Blogger -epm, at 10:42 PM  

  • Anon, very definitely. Especially peoples who view themselves as fighting for the future of their country.

    I've often said that one of the problems in Iraq is that the US sees itself fighting for "democracy" while the vast majority of Iraqis in the militias and insurgencies see themselves fighting for self determination.

    A US imposed government or solution will never be stable because it will always be open to a charge of artificiality.


    EPM, Don't you understand? This time we've figured it out?

    Disregarding the fact that it's largely not working, do you want the terrorists to win?

    (I feel dirty even writing that as satire.)


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 8:17 AM  

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