Friday, February 16, 2007

The "Iraq Surge," and Seven Things Wrong with It

1) First of all there aren't enough men. Equipment is not ready, yet political stress at home and distrust in Iraq will preclude any slow introduction of troops into the war zone.

Those 20,000 troops will be gradually "dribbled" in as if Iraq were nothing more than a sleet covered driveway getting halite. In fact, this is already beginning with delayed rotations, lowering standards for induction, and longer tours of duty.

Problem is, what if that is not enough?

Rule one of insurgency is;

Have the support of the population in whose name you are fighting.

Counter-insurgents must separate the guerillas from their constituent population or risk prolonging the war indefinitely.

Ever since we threw open the barn door, and gave Iraq over to the Shia, and alienated the Sunni, any kindergartener would've known that civil war in Iraq would have to be sectarian. And they would also know that alienated Sunnis, fearing the wrath of the Shiites has been enforced by "ethnic cleansing," would naturally rally around the first militia that calls them to action. It matters very little I think of who drew first blood at what mosque. This war was going to start because someone wanted it to.

And now the Sunni insurgency has all the support from the Sunnis that it needs. And we have done nothing to prevent it.

And it isn't the danger of attack from the Shia that is most imminent at the time,

2) If over 80% of the people in Iraq think it's OK to kill Americans, the insurgents and the militias have a potentially large reservoir of recruits.

3) This means that chasing insurgents may continue to be a game of "Whack A Mole." This situation is well illustrated in Wikipedia:

However, the majority of counter-insurgency efforts by major Western powers in the last century have been spectacularly unsuccessful. This may be attributed to a number of causes. First, as Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart pointed out in the Insurgency addendum to the second version of his book Strategy: The Indirect Approach, a popular insurgency has an inherent advantage over any occupying force. He showed as a prime example the French occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic wars. Whenever Spanish forces managed to constitute themselves into a regular fighting force, the superior French forces beat them every time. Whenever Spanish forces managed to constitute themselves into a regular fighting force, the superior French forces beat them every time. However, once dispersed and decentralized, the irregular nature of the guerilla campaigns proved a decisive counter to French superiority on the battle field. Napoleon's army had no means of effectively combating the guerilleros and in the end their strength and morale were so sapped that when Wellington finally was able to challenge French forces in the field, the French had almost no choice but to abandon the situation.

4) This means that "clear, hold & rebuild" will be very difficult because we will need far more than 20,000 or 40,000 to pervasively occupy insurgent controlled areas, and to expand these areas, due to our inability to trust Iraqi forces.

5) The Iraqi government cannot be trusted due to the heavy Shia influence of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and SCIRI.

6) Both Sunni and Shia can count on military and political support from Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, both surreptitious and otherwise. Bush keeps focusing on Iran's supposed culpability, but I seem to remember that Saudi Arabia has threatened to openly support the Sunni militias if we leave Iraq.

According to the Iraq Study Group Report, while the Saudi government may be an ally, many Saudis may be privately supporting the Sunni militias in Iraq:

Funding for the Sunni insurgency comes from private individuals
within Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, even as those governments help facilitate U.S. military operations in Iraq by providing basing and overflight rights and by cooperating on intelligence issues.

7) The resources spent in Iraq would deprive the U.S. of needed resources at home. According to Associated Press, via MSNBC, Bush is asking for $100 billion more for military and diplomatic missions in Iraq and Afghanistan for this year and $145 billion for 2008. MSNBC goes on to say that those requests “come on top of about $344 billion spent for Iraq since the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.” Bush is threatening to cut spending from hospitals, education, and sundry other things the middle class needs:

Portman said Bush's budget submission contains about a 1 percentage point cut in the rapid growth in Medicare - which averages almost 8 percent a year without changes - to squeeze about $66 billion in savings over five years from the federal health care program for the elderly.

Bush would curb payments to health care providers such as hospitals, and would require more of the higher-income recipients to pay greater premiums.

I've got a fabulous idea. Congress must tell Bush that any monetary support for our soldiers will be earmarked for adequate body armor, strengthened humvees, and all the other sorely lacking items our boys need to survive. And not one cent of that money will go to a ''surge!"