Sunday, January 02, 2005

Well, We Warned You They'd Be Irregular...

Before you read this, read Anthony's Cost Benefit Nit-pickery.

There are any number of reasons I think Clifford May is wrong, but I'm not going to spend too much time on my Sunday afternoon to detail them. Briefly:

First it is true that Zarqwari was in Iraq prior to the invasion. It is tough for me to understand the destruction of Fallujah, for instance, in terms of a GWOT-related anti-Zarqwari campaign. I can just about wrap my head around it in the terms of the larger bring-democracy-to-Iraq war (as clumsy as it is) but had we focused on the destruction of Zarqwari instead of the liberation of Iraq, I gotta believe we could have been a bit more creative in developing appropriate courses of action that would have been successful in the GWOT sense without being quite so, er, expensive. Moreover, we've done Zarqawi a huge favor in terms of career progression by going at it this way, not to mention the small matter of an Iraqi insurgency that's got us tied down right now

Second, as I mentioned, I suspect that close to exactly none of the jihadists he is using today were in Iraq before the war. He's got a recruiting challenge, but he's making it work. We read a lot about suicide bombers in Iraq. What is their origin? Are they Iraqi? No? Well, where are they coming from, then?

Third, - and May misses this completely - Zarqawi is targeting Iraqi security forces as a way of targeting the U.S., but I bet from his standpoint it will prove to be more effective, death for death. Target U.S. forces and we might lose our will and pull out. More likely we'll set our teeth. Target Iraqi forces, however, and a few things might happen:

a) The Iraqis are unable to stand up their own security forces, which in turn keeps us engaged longer, with bleeds us of spirit, blood, and treasure longer too. If he targets U.S. forces, it is a battle of attrition, which at this rate we can sustain. We have enough troops to stay the course, if by stay the course you mean continue to die in twos and threes. However, we're basing a lasting success on the establishment of security through the use of Iraqi security forces. If Zarqawi targets Iraqi forces, we are unable to establish the level of security the new regime will require to take root and grown. As May quotes Zarqawi: "[Americans] are an easy quarry, praise be to God. We ask God to enable us to kill and capture them, to sow panic among those behind them.” Right. Well it certainly appears we're in the wish fulfillment role here. Keep us around by keeping the Iraqis off balance and you can keep attriting us - and by happy coincidence, allow the Iraqi insurgents to attrit us as well.

Meanwhile, the absence of security preserves Zarqawi's freedom of action, both within the Iraq area of operations, and in terms of any other global endeavor he might be contemplating (which I personally think is more based on wish than on capability, but that's for another post).

b) The Iraqis might just be the ones who lose their will and link the killing of their people by jihadists to the presence of Americans. To make the killing stop, they may well draw the conclusion that the U.S. needs to get out, ready or not. Or

c) With the Iraqi regime unable to provide security, normal everyday Iraqis who had not been initially motivated to pick up arms may see joining the Iraqi insurgency as a viable option.


Post a Comment

<< Home