Thursday, June 29, 2006

Socialist Girlie Men in Iraq

When the Bush administration invaded Iraq, they thought that they would be able to put big-talking swindler Ahmed Chalabi in charge of the new Iraqi government. What they got in Nouri al-Maliki was something more in the European/ Democratic Party mode--more than willing to criticize the U. S. military, more interested in reconciliation than killing the enemy, and pushing amnesty for insurgents. From the point of view of the macho cultists in the Bush administration, this is all the kind of soft "girlie" stuff that they thought they were leaving behind when they invaded Iraq. Who knows, maybe Dick Cheney will be start calling for a military coup to overthrow al-Maliki next week. Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki offered a 28-point plan for national reconciliation. As is often the case, the political sub-text of the plan is more interesting than the text. A Newsweek report yesterday indicated that the Iraqi government was giving serious consideration to setting a deadline for American withdrawal. The report also claimed that Iraqi negotiators assumed that amnesty would be offered to nationalist Sunni insurgents while foreign jihadis would still be seen as terrorists. None of this found its way into al-Maliki's speech today because of American objections. However, the implications of this thinking are severe for Bush policy-makers.Putting withdrawal and amnesty together comes out of the John Murtha/ anti-war playbook. In developing these ideas, the Iraqi government assumes that it is the presence of American troops that is stimulating most of the Sunni insurgency. Not global jihadis, not Saddam dead-enders, not war lords--the AMERICAN MILITARY. If American troops withdraw, then most of the insurgents will lack direct motivation to keep up the insurgency. The most recent estimates I've seen are that local insurgents are 90-95% of the total Iraqi insurgency. If there are 20,000 Iraqi insurgents, that means that 18,000 to 19,000 would be nationalist insurgents with one to two thousand foreign jihadis. The Iraqi idea was that getting American troops out of the country would reduce the insurgency to a couple thousand guys and make it much less of a problem.The Iraqi government's thinking is so much like that of the Europeans and American anti-war spokespeople that you would think they were being tutored by Jacques Chirac rather than the American ambassador, Khalilizad. Hey, maybe they are in touch with the French. Bush, Cheney, and Rice are never tired of claiming that American troops are the only force preventing Iraq from becoming a global terrorist sanctuary. The Iraqis seem to think the exact opposite, that it would be the presence of the Americans inspires the insurgency and that the departure of the Americans would be a crippling blow to the insurgency. This is pretty much what John Murtha claimed last year when he joined the anti-war side. Maybe Ann Coulter will want Maliki arrested for treason as well.In this context, amnesty for insurgents would be designed to address most of the remaining motivation for staying in the insurgency. Given that nationalist insurgents would have killed American and Iraqi troops, attacked civilian Shiite targets, participated in death squads, and the like, one motivation for continuing the fight after the departure of American troops would be to avoid being punished. Giving insurgent fighters amnesty would be one way to take away the "escape punishment" motivation for keeping up the fight. The Bush administration wants amnesty even less than it wants a withdrawal deadline and they got their way today. According to Newsweek, however, amnesty is "almost taken as a given by Iraqi negotiators." By the same logic, the Iraqi government wants to compensate Sunni families for family members killed by American or Iraqi troops. John Bolton expressed the spirit of the Bush administration and the blood-lusting American right when he proclaimed that "I don't do carrots." To the contrary, the Iraqi government thinks that they can suck the air out of the insurgency by offering the carrots of American withdrawal, amnesty, and financial compensation. Then, they could use the stick of military force themselves to clean up the remnants. The fact that al-Maliki's already beginning to think like a war opponent after only a month in office must be deeply discouraging to a Bush administration that's isolated at home and abroad. Who knew that socialist girlie men would be taking over so soon in Iraq?


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