Maliki’s Aproach to Sunni Militias — Politics as War By Other Means


Nouri al-Maliki.jpg
DENVER — Despite optimistic forecasts with Ken Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon in their latest Foreign Affairs piece, Stephen Biddle seems to be parting ways and concluding that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government has no intention of folding in the Sunni Awakening Councils into the Iraqi military. Yesterday’s LA Times reports:

Amid fears that the Sunnis’ treatment could rekindle Iraq’s insurgency, the Americans are caught between their wish to support the fighters and their stronger ties to Maliki’s government, which has challenged the Sunni paramilitaries in recent months as it grows increasingly confident about its fledgling army.
“We want to have our cake and eat it too, support Maliki and the Sons of Iraq. . . . Maliki wants to make that as hard for us as possible. He wants us to choose him,” said Stephen Biddle, a Council on Foreign Relations defense expert who has served as an advisor on strategy to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq. “What it looks like we are getting is a Maliki government that won’t behave itself and wants to crush the Sons of Iraq.”

This is confirmed by a series of other reports filed on the ground including experts like Colin Kahl of CNAS who is also reconsidering his former optimism on the subject.

“There’s even some evidence that [al-Maliki] wants to start a fight with the Sons of Iraq,” said Kahl. “Al-Maliki doesn’t believe he has to accommodate these people. He will only do it if we twist his arm to the breaking point.”

Kahl — noting the slowdown in absorption of Sunni militia members into the Iraqi military and the assignment of humiliating jobs to those who were being incorporated into the central government’s payroll – stated:

“The last time we humiliated thousands of these guys is back in 2003, and we got the insurgency.”

Turns out those who have been warning that sectarian tensions still run deep (even if there’s a tactical pause in violence) and preclude the oft-discussed political reconciliation just might be right after all. Most analysts have missed this, looking to problematic barometers like body counts and the passage of central government legislation despite huge implementation gaps.
This ignores crucial sources that are methodologically difficult to process and measure but still critical to fully understanding the bigger picture in Iraq. That is — what people are saying and through that, their intentions for the medium to long term. In this arena, the people seem to be more successful at gauging the temperature are those reporters on the ground able to penetrate the narrative beyond the green zone. More often than not, they are Arabic speakers able to infiltrate different interest groups or militias and get a more accurate read of the country — something I would proffer the O’Hanlons and Pollacks of DC, despite their travels to Iraq, have had a harder time doing. (In fact, Middle East correspondent for The Economist Max Rodenbeck’s scathing review of Ken Pollack’s latest book chastises him for “a lack of genuine intimacy with his subject.”)
Returning to Maliki, poitical theorist Michel Foucault’s inversion of the famous Clausewitz credo — “politics is war by other means” — appropriately describes Malikis tactics. Consolidating power and perpetrating violence through legal means is always more difficult to halt than open violence because it is cloaked in legitimacy.
The reason these revaluations matter is because if the gains over the past 18 months are only surface-level and unsustainable, it dramatically changes the calculus for “winnability” and whether its worth continuing to spend blood and treasure rather than cutting our losses and rebalancing our foreign policy portfolio away from Iraq as Steve Simon, Flynt Leverett, Gen. (Ret.) William Odom, and others have suggested.
Though Sen. John McCain has made clear his policy preferences, there is a battle currently being waged in the Democratic party over the approach to Iraq and picking Sen. Joe Biden as a running mate shows Sen. Obama takes this debate very seriously. Some of these battles may play out over the course of this week as the Democratic policy elite and intelligentsia converge in Denver for a convention as riven over foreign policy as poltical camps.
— Sameer Lalwani


24 comments on “Maliki’s Aproach to Sunni Militias — Politics as War By Other Means

  1. Sweetness says:

    “Certainly, voting in another lying piece of shit, just because he is
    the lesser of two evils, does not serve our nation. And I, for one,
    am not going to do it.”
    The problem is, regardless of what you THINK you’re doing and
    how you feel about it, what you WILL be doing is casting a vote for
    McCain. It’s simple math: Anyone who would otherwise vote for a
    Dem in this election who sits out or votes for a write in candidate is
    giving McCain his vote.
    It’s just math…or arithmetic if you like.
    And if you think it doesn’t matter which candidate gets in, then
    rewind your Tivo and listen to Gore at Mile High again…or for the
    first time. Gore wins = No Iraq.


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:
    McCain: Iraq Is ‘A Peaceful And Stable Country Now’»
    Today, Time Magazine published an interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that it conducted aboard McCain’s campaign airplane. Reporters James Carney and Michael Scherer described McCain as “prickly” and “at times, abrasive” during the course of the interview.
    Carney and Scherer noted to McCain that the Iraqi government is calling for a deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq even though McCain’s previously stated definition of “victory” — “a peaceful, stable, prosperous democratic state” — has not been achieved. The Arizona senator dismissed their characterization of the situation, saying that Iraq is “a peaceful and stable country now”:
    Q: Some members of the [Iraqi] government have made it clear in the last month or two that they might want to withdraw before complete stability, before totally secure borders, before some of the completeness of victory as you described. Is there any change, do you think there is some wiggle room there because what you described with Petraeus was an end point that was rather complete — a peaceful, stable country.
    MCCAIN: Its a peaceful and stable country now.
    Listen here:
    Here are some examples (from just this month) of McCain’s so-called “peaceful and stable” Iraq:
    – August 9: A suicide car bomb in Tal Afar killed at least 25 people.
    – August 24: A suicide bomber killed 25 people, including women and children, in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib district.
    – August 27: A suicide bomber killed 28 and wounded 45 in Iraq’s Diyala province.
    Moreover, while U.S. troop deaths in Iraq reached their lowest point since the beginning of the war last month, they are on the rise again. According to, 20 U.S. military personnel have been killed so far this month in Iraq — up from 13 in July.
    But this isn’t the first time McCain’s assessment of the security situation in Iraq has been off. Last May he said the northern city of Mosul was “quiet” despite the fact that a car bomb had killed three and wounded nine there the very same day.


  3. Kathleen says:

    Maliki is in a political bind, tooo. UNSC authorization is about to expire and last May, BEFORE THE SURGE, the Iraqi Parliament voted to petition the UNSC to NOT RENEW the authorizstion for foreign troops to remain in Iraq on Maliki’s invitation only…so Maliki has not choice but to agree to demand a withdrawal.
    Maliki did not adopt BO’s position on troop withdrawal and a timeline… it’s exactly the other way around…


  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It is unfolding exactly as foretold by a finish carpenter/cabinet maker in Podunk USA. Do these smug elite pieces of shit in Washington really think that we are so God damned stupid that we are unable to think logically, or realize when we are being conned?
    God damn it, don’t these sons a bitches get it? People are DYING, in great numbers, because of the CRIMES of our government. WE HAVE MURDERED OVER A MILLION HUMAN BEING FOR LIES.
    This “Convention” is OBSCENE, as is this pious self serving HORSESHIT these criminal monstrosities are feeding us from the podium.
    August 27, 2008
    Sectarian Clashes Flare Up Again in Iraq
    by Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail
    BAQUBA – A military operation said to target al-Qaeda has ended up targeting Sunni Muslims instead, creating new sectarian tensions.
    A U.S.-backed security operation launched last month has only targeted cities with majority Sunni populations such as Buhriz, Tahreer, Qatoon, Mafraq, and Hay in Diyala province, north of Baghdad. The operation has drawn more than 50,000 Iraqi soldiers.
    The deputy governor of Diyala, Awf Rahoomi, has demanded in a public speech in Baquba that “the new security plan should also include Shia cities like Hwaider, Khirnabat, and Abara.”
    These Shia districts are strongholds of the Mahdi militia of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and of the Badr organization (the militia of the ruling Shia party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.)
    “The forces of the new security plan took all our weapons to the extent that we cannot fight al-Qaeda any more; we are impotent,” Mullah Shihab al-Safi, commander of the Popular Committees Fighters (the Sunni leadership of the U.S.-backed Awakening Group militias), said at a meeting of the Commitment Council established by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
    Safi said four members of the council who are leaders of the Awakening Group were among those arrested by government security forces.
    Leaders of Awakening Councils from Qatoon district spoke of a similar crackdown by Iraqi forces. The Awakening groups are totally a 90,000 strong mostly Sunni militia whose members each receive $300 a month from the U.S. military.
    Soldiers from Battalion 36 of the Iraqi army, an elite counter-terrorism unit that is known by detractors as the “dirty squad,” stormed the Diyala provincial government building in Baquba at 1:30 a.m. Aug. 19.
    Witnesses told IPS that more than 50 soldiers stormed the compound and hauled council members from their beds. The governor’s secretary, Abbas Ali Hamood, was shot dead.
    The special forces group entered with the permission of Capt. Mohammed Sami al-Tamini, commander of the protection group for the building, but then handcuffed Tamini and the guards at the gate and beat up deputy governor Awf Rahoomi before handcuffing him.
    After this the special forces entered another building and arrested the head of the security committee in the ruling council and Sunni lawmaker of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Dr. Hussein al-Zubaidi. Other members of the ruling council in the building were beaten up and insulted, according to witnesses who spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity.
    After the group left the building, fighting broke out between them and local security forces. One vehicle was destroyed and three local soldiers were wounded. Fighting continued through the night.
    “These special forces work with the Americans,” Iraq’s Ministry of Defense spokesman Mohammed Askari told reporters the day of the raid. “They have goals, and they didn’t inform anyone else.”
    The U.S. military denied involvement in the operation.
    An Iraqi special forces unit also raided the home of the dean of Diyala University, Nazar Jabbar Khafaji, and detained him. Ismael Ibrahim, his driver, told reporters the troops took computers, two guns, and $5,000.
    The Islamic Party has demanded an explanation from the prime minister about such assaults on Sunni Muslims. So far 684 people have been arrested. All of them are Sunni Muslims.
    Sunni residents of Baquba, capital city of Diyala, say the new security plan is clearly sectarian. “No Shia VIP or layman has been arrested since the launch of the security plan,” local trader Qasim Abdullah told IPS.
    Others blamed Shia militias, backed by the government in Baghdad. “We all know that Shia militias in Baquba are a source of instability,” Yasin Hamza, a teacher, told IPS. “Influential Shia members in the provincial office or in the ruling council were behind the bad security situation in this province. It cannot be that all of them are innocent.”


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Personally I think it is ludicrous at this point to paint one candidate as worse than the other. I see no substantive differences in the potentials of both of them to continue to flush this country down the crapper.
    Observing this clusterfuck unfolding convinces me that the ONLY patriotic course of action for any informed American is to work for the restoration of the checks and balances, the availability of factual information to the Ammerican public at large, and an effort to dislodge the traitorous cowards that comprise the vast majority of the leadership of both parties.
    Certainly, voting in another lying piece of shit, just because he is the lesser of two evils, does not serve our nation. And I, for one, am not going to do it.
    If you think this is a process one can morally participate in, than you need to reread the steaming excrement WigWag and Tahoe have been depositing here for months now. They personify what the American political process has become.


  6. Paul Norheim says:

    one of your main points – that any future mess in Iraq is
    basically the current administration`s generous heritage to the
    next one – is true. I have no idea why anyone want to become
    the next president of the USA.
    And yes, it would be a wise move if Obama questioned the
    sustainable outcome of the “surge”. Some people, both among
    Iraqis and Americans, are just waiting for him to withdraw most
    of the US troops, and he will be blamed for whatever happens
    after that.
    However, as you probably know better than many Americans,
    your scenario is rather optimistic if the old warrior and
    charming “maverick” McCain(/Lieberman) get the upper hand
    against the “unexperienced and arrogant sexist” Barack Obama
    in the presidential race.
    John McCain seems capable of making a serious effort to win
    the Vietnam war on a handful of different fronts simultaneously:
    in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan/Pakistan, as well as in some remote
    areas in the Caucasus mountains against the Russians. Even our
    friend Kotzabasis may in the end be satisfied by the geopolitical
    dimensions and the sacrifices to defend the glorious and
    endangered Western Civilization. And if there once in a while is
    a shared border between Iraq and Pakistan in McCain`s
    imagination, his confusion may after a while become a perfect
    reflection of the situation on the ground.
    If on the other hand Obama wins the election, and removes
    some troops from Iraq to Afghanistan (leaving, say 50 000 back
    in Iraq on a more or less permanent basis), he may be forced to
    move these troops back and forth between those two countries:
    more troops to Afghanistan during the annual spring offensives,
    and transporting them back to the mother of all distractions
    during the Afghan winter season.
    If Israel attacks Iran during his time in office, Obama may even
    end up in exactly the same mess as McCain, although perhaps
    more as a hostage of the events than as their direct cause.
    I admit that other and better options or outcomes are possible.
    But the risks have not been bigger in my lifetime.


  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, there is another truth that should be exposed, and capitalized on by the Obama crew.
    Maliki is now publically announcing agreements with the Bush Administration that the Bush Administration is denying. In fact, even Condi Rice’s statements seem to conflict with the White House spokesman’s.
    What is intriguing to me is that this pullout date of 2011 that Maliki is pimping is a ridiculous flight of fancy, considering the fact that he is now arresting some members of the “Sons of Iraq”, and seeking to disband them altogether. Is it really feasable that this clusterfuck is going to hold together for 2 more years? Considering that Bush has bought the “decline of violence” by paying off the very factions that Maliki is now targeting, what happens when these factions are forced back into an underground guerilla footing? And when these “factions” start retaliating, and targeting Maliki’s forces, what then? Who the hell will be our “allies” in that mess?
    Whats likely, Maliki will simply amp up his efforts to eradicate the Sunni factions, and we will find ourselves switching alliances yet once more, as we can’t really side with the Sunnis against our own Shiite controlled rogue puppet government, can we?
    (It appears these assholes in the White House are in danger of dropping the strings of BOTH sets of puppets.)
    Welcome to Bushworld.
    And if this dime store mannequin Obama doesn’t start leveling with us, welcome to Obamaland, same as Bushworld.
    (Whoever manages to rub enough media vaseline on themselves to slide into what Bush has turned into the Oval Orifice, is going to inherit one hell of a mess. So, if they aren’t going to tell us the truth, they better be one hell of a better set of liars than this pathetic monkey Bush is. Maybe they better hand the mic to that slimey lttle turncoat Lieberman. He’s up to the task.)


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Imagine if Obama said that after he’s elected Bush will be brought to justice for the crime of deceiving our country into an unnecessary war that has resulted in 75,000 deaths and much misery”
    If you are going to suppose how the people will react to the truth, you might as well give them the truth, JohnT.
    How’s a million sound? (It may well be a conservative number)
    But 75,000? Ridiculous.
    And heres a news flash for you, JohnT. Most Americans know we were bullshitted into this fiasco. Least wise, most of them I talk to, left and right, do.
    Yes, JohnT, a candidate could be well served by standing before the American public and leveling with us about what the surge REALLY entailed, how our former “adversaries” are being bought off. In fact, we are paying people who just recently were killing American soldiers. In fact, our current partners in the “surge”, (yesterday’s “saddam loyalists”, “former baathists”, and “sunni insurgents”) are undoubtedly responsible for the majority of American military deaths in Iraq.
    Is it your contention the American public is too stupid to understand the above? Is it your contention that McCain would be able to successfully rebut THE FACTS and discredit Obama for telling us THE FACTS?
    Personally, I don’t think so. And logic tells me that Obama BETTER tell us the truth about “the success of the surge”, because this clusterfuck is gonna blow up right in his face, on his watch, (if elected) and if there is any way to pull it off, these bastards in the Bush camp are going to place the blame squarely in Obama’s lap. He better do a little pre-emptive clarification and truth tellin’, or he’s gonna end up with an egg stain on his face the size of Iraq and Iran combined.


  9. Don Bacon says:

    Thinking like that is why the pols have such a low popularity, with Congress at, what is it, 14%? And why half the electorate stays home and doesn’t vote. Sure, the truth is unpopular with the MSM and the think tanks, but they have to be taken on sometime, and someone with a popular national standing could do it.


  10. Kathleen says:

    JohnT…the truth has that certain ring to it… you know it when you hear it, like when you tap a real crystal glass…unmistakable…but I guess it’s best for “leaders” to talk down to the plebes….


  11. JohnT says:

    Write a speech that you think Obama should give concerning Iraq. Get in front of the mirror, orate it out to yourself, and then judge if anyone could ever get elected President with what you just said.
    Obama’s trying to get elected President, not speak the crazy truth.
    Imagine if Obama said that after he’s elected Bush will be brought to justice for the crime of deceiving our country into an unnecessary war that has resulted in 75,000 deaths and much misery.
    He would be crucified, literally.
    He would have died for our sins.


  12. Don Bacon says:

    The (false) proposition is that regular people just aren’t qualified to understand the complications of foreign affairs, that we need *experts* to clarify and decide these important issues, whereas as you say the truth is really quite simple.
    That’s how they are able to get away with continuing unsuccessful military campaigns and obscene military budgets in a misguided offensive against a mythical guy in a Pakistani cave. Really!! We couldn’t make this stuff up, it takes “think-tank brains” to concoct these scenarios and politicians to rely on them to extend their own power and profit.
    Dan Kervick is very good on the *expert* subject (as on others).


  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Don Bacon….
    I see you too recognize the simplicity of the situation. We certainly do not need a panel of over-synapsed think tank brains applying triple layers of nuance to what should be common sensical conclusions.
    What is disheartening is seeing this candidate for the presidency, who is supposed to represent “change” and people power, failing to accurately convey to the American people exactly what has occurred, and what is occuring, in Iraq. Considering that he is unwilling to cut through the subterfuge and level with the American people, one can only assume he intends to continue the multiple deceptions we are being fed about the situation in Iraq.
    The American people are not stupid, and it seems the majority are unhappy with our engagement in Iraq. I think telling us the TRUTH about the situation would certainly elevate the popularity of a candidate. And the truth is really quite simple, as your post illustrates.
    The bottom line? There is no candy coated conclusion to this clusterfuck, and an over-riding Iranian influence in Iraq is inevitable. Unless, of course, we take McCain’s road, and maintain a 100 year occupation.
    Both candidate’s unwillingness to level with the American people does not portend a solution, or an end to this insanity. One expects McCain to continue the deception, but Obama’s willingness to do so hardly fits what one would expect from a candidate advocating “change”.


  14. Don Bacon says:

    It goes beyond “ties with Iran.”
    First, I believe that barrisj is correct in his “divide et impera” concept, divide and conquer. The Samarra mosque bombing of January 2006 which significantly escalated Iraqi sectarian conflict was done with the complicity of the US military, given the facts of the case. Subsequently, Samarra was frequently cited by the Pentagon as a reason to stay in Iraq, and the “prevent civil war” meme which the US fosters has become the principal MSM battle-cry.
    It’s been successful, it works, and it will be continued by the US. But what I argue above is that Iran is really in the drivers’ seat now. They own Maliki, they have told Sadr to stay in Iran and they want the Sunnis defeated in order to have a brother Shi’ite regime next door. Who can blame them?


  15. Will says:

    What is being missed here is the excellent (although somewhat anti-American) post by a gentleman (perhaps Steve could refresh my memory) a few months back that pointed out Maliki’s ties with Iran. Notice what Maliki is doing…He is disbanding the Sunni militias, he is expressing new found confidence in his security forces (despite the fact that they remain untrained) and he is on the verge of closing a deal that would kick the Americans out by 2011 (something that the administration has never supported). All of this points to a strategic agreement with the Tehran. While I don’t think that the danger is that Iraq will end up becoming a puppet of the Mullahs, what does concern me is the Iraqis looking the other way when it comes to say Iranian weapons shipments to Syria. 500 billion dollars for this? When Senator Obama hints that it is to early to tell whether or not the surge was successful, judging by the political trends, he is absolutely correct.


  16. Mr.Murder says:

    The blog ate my homework, but if you really wanted to win republican moderates and democratic hawks you would express confidence in Sec.Gates compared to the work of his predecessor.
    There were times Gates actually ran a shadow government, with statements that preceded neocons, or corrected neocons and their attempts to hype new assessments.
    He also showed restraint enough to allow some Deputy State people, and the most experienced of Senior ranks to secure some items in the regions of conflict.
    He should be retained until the conflict stages are over, or drawdown plans are finalized, and their first stages completed and secured.
    The first candidate to address this would stand to gain much, IMO.


  17. Dan Kervick says:

    I say good for Maliki. I suspect he’s entirely right not to trust the SOI and their ilk one bit, and he doesn’t appear to be taken in by vaunted US “political reconciliation” plans, which do nothing but reward the main perpetrators of terrorist violence in Iraq. More and more, Maliki is taking charge of the situation in Iraq and looking something like a real leader of a real government, and that’s a good thing.
    Maliki now has the US government in a politically weakened position, since our politicians are finding that maintaining the occupation of Iraq in defiance of the expressed wishes of the Iraqi government – the same government which is the very elected democracy that we proudly trumpet as our main justification for invading Iraq in the first place – is politically untenable here in the US. He can now continue to play hardball on extracting commitments from us in the form of specific timetables to leave. And once we know we are leaving on a timeline, he knows we will have no choice but to throw all our resources into backing his government, building his security forces, and ceasing our messing around with terrorists and rebels who are nothing but a stab-in-the-back waiting to happen.
    The US and Saudis probably want to infiltrate Sunnis into Iraqi security forces to have available as an insurance policy, a rainy day pre-positioned coup d’etat, to bring down Maliki’s government in case he becomes inconveniently unhelpful during a future conflict with Iran. Maliki is smart to use his growing position of strength vis-a vis the US to force us to put all our eggs in the government basket, and to stiff the SOI. The Shia in Iraq have endured decades of being lorded over by a Sunni Arab minority assisted by various outside powers. But they’re the ones who actually built this government through the ballot box, and took the main political risks. It’s their turn. Let’s just back the Iraqi government fully, and get out of Iraq.
    And let’s stop listening to people like Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollock. If this was a country like the Old Soviet Union, those guys would be in Siberia by now. I know this is America, where even failures are allowed a continued voice, but why is anybody still listening to those two?


  18. Don Bacon says:

    I know that all these Great Thinkers, as well as Bush, Rice, Gates and Petraeus like to pretend that they have some control over events in Iraq, but the truth is somewhat more complex.
    The five year US “divide-and-conquer” strategy, in my view, has been replaced by Iran’s “consolidate the Iraq Shi’ite victory” strategy, which includes, in chronological order:
    (1) isolation of the nationalistic Sadrists, who have been disarmed,
    (2) neutralization of the Sunni minority, which the removal of US troops from the cities (June, 2009) would facilitate, and finally
    (3) a showdown with the Kurds.
    Having said this, the US military presence is, as it always has been, based on conditions on the ground and also depends on politicians who have been bought staying bought and not asking the US to leave. Here again, though, Iranian influence becomes a major factor which will probably over-ride US military intentions. We could say that the war is over and Iran won.
    All of which means that the US is not in control of events, except slightly, and US wisdom and statesmanship (?) may not have a chance to act (which might be a blessing). What will Iran do? is the question. Also, will the US military find it necessary at some point to fight the new Iraqi army?
    Meanwhile, the profits continue to role in to Bush’s friends, the elite, his power base. So why worry?


  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The reason these revaluations matter is because if the gains over the past 18 months are only surface-level and unsustainable…..”
    If??? What do you mean, “if”?
    The handwriting has been on the wall ever since it was exposed that Bush/Petreaus were simply buying off yesterday’s adversaries. One of the huge problems I have with BOTH cabdidates is that they have allowed this deception, (the success of the surge), to go un-exposed and unchallenged. This posturing fraud Obama should be screaming to high heavens about this, for it is likely he will inherit this clusterfuck right about the time Bush’s so called “success of the surge” manages to completely unravel.
    But thanks for commenting on this, Sameer, even if in the typically over complicated manner of a thoroughly entrenched think-tanker. Its truly heartening to note that not everyone is distracted by this pathetic and shameless media extravagansa that we are being force fed under the guise of a “democratic process”.
    Of course, one would be a fool not to recognize that the current Administration, (if they are to lubricate McCain’s insertion into the Oval Office), badly need another “trifecta” by which to send the restless natives back under their beds, cowering in fear. And if you don’t think Bush and Cheney are monstrous enough to manufacture such an event, you haven’t been paying attention these last eight years.


  20. Jeff says:

    I hate to take issue with a post that includes two of my favorite people – Colin Kahl and Michel Foucault – together, but I’m curious where you find Kahl’s purported former optimism on the subject of Maliki’s intentions vis-a-vis the Sons of Iraq. On the contrary, it seems to me the latest developments are rather possibly Kahl’s and others’ worst fears being realized. It’s true that Kahl and many others have long seen the paying off of the SOI as one of the causes of the security gains that have been achieved, which seems indisputable fact. But the flipside has been a worry that Maliki was not genuinely committed to integrating them. So where do you find Kahl’s former optimism that all was sweetness and light between the GOI and SOI?


  21. barrisj says:

    There is another credo/maxim that precedes Clauswitz’s statement by two millenia, and that is divide et impera, which one can forcefully argue has been the US military’s strategy in Iraq for the past four or so years. First arming one then the other side, then a third, etc., within a multifactional civil struggle for supremacy, where the occupiers have one enduring objective: the creation of permanent bases to “aid” an autocratic client government whose mere existence is guaranteed by that same occupying force. The so-called “draft agreement” on both SOFA and US-Iraqi state-to-state relationship implicitly condones an open-ended presence of the US military for “security” purposes, and to the extent that one faction or another will always contest the primacy of al-Maliki or any other Shi’ite-run government, it would appear that the need for “security” provided by the US military would be ongoing, regardless of any so-called “timelines”, or “aspirational horizons”, whatever.


  22. JohnH says:

    “Consolidating power and perpetrating violence through legal means is always more difficult to halt than open violence because it is cloaked in legitimacy.” Maliki sure had a good tutor on that one! And now it’s the UNITED STATES that wants him to negotiate with his enemies? Why should he do that, when his mentors have shown him that there is a military solution to every problem? Yes, the US needs to chill–their hypocritical advice is not worth the emails it’s written in.
    Of course, this may all be tactical maneuvering–if the US insists on staying, and not negotiating a good faith withdrawal, he’s prepared to make sure that the US gets dragged into the fight with the Sunnis again, eliminating any chance the US can rebalance its security portfolio and start trashing other countries.


  23. Kathleen says:

    Let’s go back to page one… after the Iraqi election, their gov’t proposed a peace plant that included an agreement from the Sunni that they would lay down their arms if we withdrew our troops within two years. we rejected it for reasons very unclear to me, besdies their faliure to meet our oil benchmark…we then started paying the Sunni to not shoot at our troops and now it seems we’re back to square one…who is the military genuis strateging this plan…besides, the UNSC authorization is running out, not to be renewed.. this had nothing to do with the surge….the Iraqi Parliament voted last May, before the surge, to petition the UNSC to not renew the authority on Maliki’s invitation only…check mate…end of story…Yankee go home….


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