Thursday, April 20, 2006

Iraq, the war is over.

The war in Iraq is for all practical purposes overwith and it is time people realized this fact. While I do understand there are still service members fighting and dying, from a strategic standpoint the war is over and we won. There is no longer any single dominant entity engaged in any large scale fighting. What we see these days are smaller actions by a number of individual political factions. Mostly these factions are fighting among themselves or trying to make political points with the population.

Today was a very important day. The prime minister under the previous Iraqi government, Mr. al-Jaafari, has decided to place his nomination for the position in the new government back into the hands of the alliance of parties that initially nominated him. It was a thin nomination at the time, too. al-Jaafari won by only a single vote. Since that time both the Sunnis and the Kurds have refused to vote for his confirmation while al-Jaafari has stubbornly refused to back down from the nomination resulting in deadlock. Today we finally have a glimmer of hope that this deadlock will be broken. The parliament will meet again on Saturday. It is my belief that we are seeing the beginning of peace in Iraq.

I was very dismayed today by the results of some polls. The results show the degree to which the people of this country are misinformed. It is understandable as our news media has failed our nation but increasingly so are the bloggers. Firstly there is this preoccupation with Bush's approval numbers. Odd because Bush isn't running for office. His numbers really don't mean anything. Even more amazing is the reason. People claim it is because of Rumsfeld. If Rumsfeld were replaced right this instant, it wouldn't make even a tiny bit of difference in how quickly the political process in Iraq moves forward. Well, it might, but that would be a bad thing if it did. Rumsfeld is allowing Iraq to come to it's own solution. We absolutely HAVE to do it that way. If we impose a solution upon them it will fall apart the moment we leave. If we are to expect a lasting government in Iraq, it has to be formed their own way through their own decisions and their own actions. Replacing Rumsfeld might have made a difference two or three years ago but we are practically finished with the job at this point. We are simply maintaining security while the Iraqis form their government. Their army is taking over more of the responsibility each week that passes. The time is long past for making any changes in the military strategy in Iraq. It won't make any difference. We have already won the military battle. The current battle is political.

Here is what I expect to play out over the next few months:

al-Jaafari will be replaced as nominee for PM. A new nominee might or might not have the support of al-Sadr with his Mahdi Army. If it doesn't have al-Sadr's support but does gain enough support for confirmation, there will be a bit more fighting as al-Sadr gets his revenge for loss of status in the alliance. The best of all worlds is a candidate that has the support of all factions of the Shiite alliance and the Sunnis and Kurds can support. My take is that this is a 40% chance of happening. I would give a 60% chance of al-Sadr being shoved out of the alliance and some additional infighting until he accepts his new position in the Shiite pecking order. He has been seen as a troublemaker by many other Shiites for quite some time and is also seen by many as an Iranian proxy.

Once a government is installed there will likely be one final security push to disarm militias and then our troops will start coming home in large numbers. The mix of troops will change from mainly combat troops to mainly logistics and training forces. Eventually these will be drawn down too, but that will take a year or so as the Iraqi infrastructure is rebuilt.

My guess is that by the time the mid-term elections come around this fall, our troops will be much lower in strength than they are now. The only thing delaying this has been the deadlock surrounding al-Jaafari. This situation went much longer than it should have. I think they are going to get it sorted out over the next week or two.

We have won, it is now up to the Iraqis themselves. It took us years to do in our own country what it is taking only months to do in Iraq. Let's not push them too quickly. We can't if their government is going to last. We even had our own insurgents when we were trying to get settled on our Constitution. Look up Shay's Rebellion. Some of the original 13 states didn't like the Constitution either. Rhode Island didn't ratify the Constitution until Washington had already been president for a year!

Anyway, it's just a shame how opinion in this country is based on such a lack of understanding of the situation in Iraq. We should be feeling GOOD, it's almost over!


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