Stupid NY Post Post

One of the dumber op-eds I’ve read in awhile: from Amir Taheri. This is what happens when you still think in terms of traditional war images in this post-Cold War world. i.e. In winners/losers.

Taheri is commenting on Sen. Reid’s statement that the war is lost. For the record, my position is the war was won in 2003 (against Saddam) and the peace was lost. [You’ll not see the “p” word in Taheri].

Here’s Taheri:

Because all wars have winners and losers, Reid, having identified America as the loser, is required to name the winner. This Reid cannot do. The reason is that, whichever way one looks at the situation, America and its Iraqi allies remain the only objective victors in this war.

Taheri then goes on to name three phases of the war:
1: Invasion against Saddam—America wins (I agree with him here)
2: Insurgency. Taheri claims America wins because elections were held (wow).
3: I don’t know exactly what he means here so I’ll just quote him:

The third and current war started toward the end of last year when the disparate forces fighting against the democratic government found a new point of convergence in a quest for driving America out. The Bush administration understood this and responded with its “surge” policy by dispatching more troops to Baghdad.

He does not mention the civil war going on first off which throws his whole op-ed into a Fantasyland feel.

There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t know where to begin, so this might have a spray in all directions feel.

Point #1, and this is absolutely crucial: there is no effective central government, democratically elected or otherwise. The idea that the second phase was won by having elections is beyond moronic.

The government only has power on the streets to the degree that they have influence with militias. This is equally true for Shia and Sunni legislators.

#2: Open-source warfare is predicated on keeping a hallow state. Not a totally collapsed state but an ineffective state. A state apparatus that can not achieve good will/trust among the people and therefore they align with the militias. And the militias do not have the responsibility of having to run a government. Who would want to run Iraq? That is so Cold War, 1980s which Taheri is completely lost in.

#3 Consequently, the whole talk of winners and losers assumes this black/white world. There are multiple winners in a failing state. Taheri assumes gangs have to gain political state power to be winners: it’s exactly the reverse. As long as lawlessness reigns, then the gangs are the winners. It’s a non-zero sum game friend. There’s a reinforcing feedback mechanism that for every suicide or car bomb attack that occurs the Shia blame the government thereby joining say the Mahdi Army. The Mahdi Army increase is used as a recruiting tool by Sunni jihadist elements. The militias want each other. They are the ones who want to create the us/them black/white worldview.

–So in a backwards way Taheri got it right on black/white just the wrong players.

#4 Taheri assumes (for ideological reasons?) this unity between the American force and the Shia government. The Shia government is just using the Americans to gain their own objectives which are not those of President Bush. The UIA is a Shia theocratic regime. Their goal is not a unified, non-sectarian government.

–Remember Friedman’s Law of Middle Eastern politics, look at what the politicians say in public in their own language to their own people, not what they say in English to Americans. What they say in public is we Shia are victorious.

The “winners” of this war are the following:
–Criminal Gangs, Kidnapping Mafia Like Rings
–And I would argue (though Taheri tries in vain to de-construct this view) Iran.

The “losers” the Sunnis.
–Particularly the 2 million refugees.
–And to a lesser degree the neighboring Sunni regimes who continue to lose face.

The peace was lost and the Shia are going to be faced with attacks from Sunnis for a decade or more.

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Published in: on April 26, 2007 at 11:24 am  Leave a Comment  

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