Iraq Blogging From Corn Islands

I had been hoping to do some political blogging and today is the day–and I have the sand fly bites on my foot to prove my dedication to the task.  They don´t call this the Mosquito Coast for nutin.  Particularly in the Wet season.

So it´s been awhile since I´ve written on Iraq and there has been some important news in interim. 

The biggest news is that Iran brokered a ceasefire in Baghdad (mostly Sadr City) allowing the government forces of Maliki into Mahdi Army strongholds.  Though they had multiple days before the entry to hide weapons and or escape.

Also the government forces attacked seemingly more on their own Mosul attempting to get the last remnants of (so-called) al Qaeda in Iraq.

On the former point, for yet the upteenth million time, hardline right elements are proclaiming success and the death knell of Sadr, 6 more months and the corner while yet be turned, and the government they´ve been waiting for is coming.

This line will be used as a measure of whether Obama is honest about ¨facts¨or in the thrall of the anti-war American hating terroist loving left.

Here´s the problem, for the millionth time.  Tactical military success in Iraq has not in 6 years lead to political achievement.  Because there is no structural possibility at the current time with massive numbers of US troops in the country for a political reconciliation and/or more likely in my mind a final battle to settle the score.

When the US invaded Iraq the second time, the entire police state went underground leaving a massive vacuum that was filled by militias.  The militias run the country.  In fact Iraq as such no longer exists.  There are simply fiefdoms like Basra, Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk.  The militias have names like the Sons of Iraq, The Mahdi Army, The Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, the Peshmerga (the 2 Kurdish militias), Fadhila (strongest in Basra) and Salafi jiahdist elements (AQI).  Plus a whole host of other smaller outfits, some criminal, some religious. 

Both candidates for president still see this thing through the lens of a state as if a state of Iraq actually existed and/or the central government was an actual organ of said state.  McCain ignorantly thinks that this government (which is really just a militia or two) is going to win.  Obama wants to put pressure on it as an excuse to drawdown troops.  When in fact no such government exists. 

Pay no attention in other words to the man behind the curtain.  There is no great and all powerful Oz.  The govenrment does not supersede the militas.  The militas are the primary reality and the government and its security forces to the degree they exist do so to further the aims of the militias not the other way around.  If we had a Ven Diagram of the situation, the militias would be the largest circle with the government inside of that larger circle. 

So you see then immediately how McCain and the right´s line about increased success means nothing.  Because to echo Joe Biden there is goal, strategy, and tactics.  This like the surge is of the third variety.  It is unsustainable because there is no regional and/or national political context in which to hold these military victories.  As always they are just squeezing a balloon.  The air simply goes elsewhere. 

Take Sadr.  Sadr knows that the real battlefield is not physical (military only mindset) but ideological. He can and has and will continue to trade the former for the latter.  He will give up ground in order to achieve greater cred on the street (where the real power in the Arab world lies). 

The US for yet another time has failed to learn its lesson of supporting an exile aristocratic political outfit over the street people power poverty movements of the Arab world.  We choose Fatah over Hamas.  The latter wins in a straight up fight and is then isolated by the US gaining greater cred in the process.  US supports the Sunni businessmen of Lebanon, who lose to Hezbollah (get routed).  Now we choose Maliki and SIIC (Iranian creations) against Sadr.  Why choosing one Shia milita over another in US national security interest is beyond me but there it is.  But if we are going to choose a side (while simultaneously arming their enemies) why choose yet again the outsider group that immediately will receive the US touch of death.  The only reason in the prior fights the SIIC-Badr Corops managed whatever non-losses they could pull off had to do with American firepower.  Unlike the Fatah-Lebanese examples, this time the army is being trained by the US and not the Jordanians.  Oh and the Iranians (but hush hush about that Iran is the enemy in Iraq remember). 

But what kind of success is one Shia theocracy over another?  Only if you follow the propaganda that the one Shia theocratic milita is the legitimate government and the other isn´t. 

In sum:  When you hear success from the victory in Iraq crowd remember they mean military success and nothing else. 

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Published in: on June 10, 2008 at 10:49 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. CJ

    Great point !!!

    In particular, America trying to turn Iraq in its own image, such as nation-state and democracy, whereas Iraq has been totally disintegrated, from a nation states and had broken down into tribalism. Which is common place in this region of the world, in fact it appears to be reverting back to what it once was prior to England’s slicing and dicing of the region. It seems in the future, the only applicable term would be the Ummah of either the Sunna or Shia variety. I would even argue that US policy already adopted this terminology and perspective, hence their favoring the Sunnis inside and outside of Iraq against the Shia

  2. e,

    Yeah it could go a couple of ways. It could go towards what Olivier Roy calls Islamo-nationalism. Not the best term but the point being not a caliphate type trans-boundary but nations built around Islamic governance. For real as opposed to the fake job the autocrats like to sell as Islamic rulers.

    peace. cj


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