View Full Version : Winning the “LongWar” in Iraq: What the US Can and Cannot Do

05-26-2006, 09:37 PM
CSIS, 26 May: Winning the “LongWar” in Iraq: What the US Can and Cannot Do (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/060524_long_war_iraq.pdf)

There are no good strategic options in Iraq, and there is a serious risk of failure regardless of the policies the US pursues. The US also has increasingly limited options. Iraq is now in control of its own political destiny and Iraqi leaders and politicians will choose its strategy. They can be influenced and pressured to some extent, but only at the risk of a hostile or opposite reaction. They too have limited options. Like the US, they must try to make the current political process work, or see the nation devolve into a far more intense form of civil war.

This does not mean, however, that the US lacks options for action. The options may not offer easy ways out, or certain probabilities of success, but there are many things the US can do...

05-28-2006, 05:11 AM
My apologies beforehand. My first post here, and it'll be a long one, I'm afraid. I'll do my best for brevity henceforth.

I really can't find fault with this incredibly depressing assessment. Based upon what I've read, it's spot-on. Well, I can, actually. But small points. He mentions the pre-occupation of those defending the war effort with civilized MSM reporting. Cordesman may be correct. He may see this as a distracting diversion of our focus and energy. Still, their coverage is "bleeds, it leads". Events are covered primarily from the Green Zone with heavy reliance upon local stringers-both good and bad. He may also see that, coverage techniques aside, that this reporting still accurately reflects conditions on the ground.

He also suggests that America should NOT support a Kurd independance movement, yet also warns that we must engage in contingency planning that will allow for our exit-while retaining a regional presence and continuing engagement with Iraq from without.

My depression with the phase IV element of this war has swayed my overall view. We've failed to show the coherance, synergy, and synchonization for which our planning and actions were once noted. We've failed to fully mobilize our government agencies as adjuncts to our "war-fighting" strategy. Because, you know, we are still AT WAR. Not that you can tell stateside. We're losing the information war with every passing minute because, IMHO, the unceasing "happy new" eminating from both DoD and the POTUS. Their public face is a drumbeat of "consistent progress". Sort of reminds me of the "light at the end of the tunnel" I heard years before.

Yet it's all too clear to John Q. Public where the greater truth lies. It's not with "progress", to be sure. The credibility gap is evident to our citizenry, given the overwhelming violence. Only most recently has there been any change to the tone and timbre of the message.

Cordesman suggests that even with a massive overhaul of our effort in Iraq, coupled with the restructuring and revitalization of the Dept. of State, USAID, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it may be too late. Thus, contingencies are needed if asked to leave.

Which brings me to Kurdistan. Why not let the Iraqi government know that we would support an independant Kurdish state should our effort collapse further south? Why surrender this potential leverage? As I recall, in about eight years time, Kurds will vote on legalized secession. Thus, they are within a heartbeat of their long-aspired dream, an independant Kurdistan. With or without America, particularly in light of current conditions, is there much doubt as to how Kurds will vote? I'm almost certain that they'll seize this moment to create their own legitimate nation, taking their chance while the mechanism is available. I at least would, were I a Kurd.

Personally, I'm in favor of this, coupled with the presence of a damn large U.S. AFB near Kirkuk. They are cohesive, entrepreneurial, and spirited. Their survival, should they elect secession, will be immediately threatened by Syria, Turkey, Iran, and the remainder of "rump Iraq". Our presence would ensure it remains only a threat.

The quid pro quo for this would be clear. Our military would still be strategically placed in this region. An AFB in Kirkuk would reduce our dependence upon Incirlik AFB in Turkey. Equally, we would demand the end to PKK activities aimed at Turkey, if only to ensure OUR security, if not also the Kurds.

Kurds should be amenable. Kirkuk oil must flow somewhere. Better through Turkey than south or through Russia. Turkey would be a beneficiary of this commercial enterprise. Meanwhile, why would a newly formed Kurdish government be willing to risk it's long fought independance to assist the PKK? Without much risk, with an American presence only so long as the PKK stays out of Kurdistan, this new government would IMMEDIATELY become the legitimate voice of Kurds everywhere. Not unlike Israel. But agitation from within their borders aimed at Turkey must stop.

I'd be more comfortable there, frankly, than Kuwait or Bahrain. Not that the choice is mutually exclusive. We should continue our presence in the GSCC but we should not surrender the possibility of our presence in Kurdistan, leaving the south to fend for itself.

Iran would have a field day? Really. In some respects, they already are. However, history suggests that the Iranians would quickly exhaust any good-will among their Iraqi Shia cousins. And we all know what the Sunni arabs would think. Perhaps an Iranian nightmare instead of ours.

Wouldn't that be interesting?

05-31-2006, 09:33 PM
Interesting thought. Wouldn't the formation of an independent Kurdish state also destabalize Iran by putting the idea in the heads of Iranian Kurds to carve out a piece of Iran and join with Kurdistan?

Just a thought.