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Thread: Macgregor's latest shot at the matrix: "Sheikhs For Sale"

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  1. #1
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    Default Macgregor's latest shot at the matrix: "Sheikhs For Sale"

    Here is an oped by Doug Macgregor that is currently running in "Defense News."

    January 28, 2008

    Sheikhs for Sale - U.S. Cash Diplomacy in Iraq Will Fail in the End

    Of the many factors contributing to the reduction of U.S. casualties in Iraq, none has been more critical than the decision by the generals in Baghdad to pay more than 80,000 of Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgents a quarter of a billion dollars a year not to shoot at U.S. forces.

    It's not the first time that a foreign army in the Middle East has bought off troublesome Arab sheikhs and their cohorts with cash. The British used gold to sedate tribal enemies from the Khyber Pass to the Nile delta while they extracted billions from their colonies. However, it is the first time in American history that buying off the enemy has been presented to the American people as evidence for progress in a war or good generalship.......
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-28-2008 at 03:37 PM. Reason: Added link, edited content.

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    It still doesn't change the fact that co-opting tribes is not, and was never, a long term solution or meant to be. It was meant to provide the temporary stability required to accomplish ANY forward movement - which was impossible with even the "surge" troop levels. If Iraq doesn't resolve its larger issues, the Awakening movements are meaningless and perhaps counterproductive. However, if we hadn't encouragedthe Awakening movements, Iraqi would likely be far deeper into a civil war now than a year ago.

    Some (like Ralph Peters) argue that's a good thing. Civil Wars are cleansing, if bloody, and often settle issues. Others point out that few Civil Wars end as well as the American one. However, the national strategy as dictated by the president involves creating a unified Iraq, and estabishing some form of local security and stability is a necessary first step that has reduced the tensions and pull back from the spectre of an all-out civil war. Without an addtional 200,000 trops, the only way to do that is to co-opt local forces into securing themselves.

    Again, I call for a practical alternative to what we should have done to arrest the downward spiral in Iraq during 2006, given no change in strategic guidance.

    I also caution against the simplification and lie that only money is behind the Awakening, it's simply a dispicable distortion and simplifiction, as much as the "soldiers on FOBs eating ice cream while Iraq burns" is.
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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    I'd like to know how Colonel Macgregor thinks we should have brought them over? "Join us or die?" "Pretty please?"

    We pay our troops and, except for left wingers, nobody believes they're only fighting for the money. We're providing the sheikhs economic support, and in turn they're supporting us. (BTW, that economic support is not the only thing that brought them over.)

    In Macgregor's own words: "With millions of dollars in hand, the Sheikhs could reward the loyalty of their armed supporters, determine who would hold office, staff the police and reassert their control over Anbar’s towns and villages with their own arbitrary justice system." And this is bad ... how? And notice the use of "arbitrary." I suspect the use of "traditional" may have been more accurate and less ideological.

    Let's add this: "... tribal identity is a dangerous step backward on the road to modernity and cash payments now make crushing tribalism later impossible for whatever regime rules in Baghdad. In Western Europe the process of eradicating tribalism took centuries and tribalism’s last great European bastion did not capitulate to the forces of modernization until well into the 18th Century." So his complaint is this interferes with "nation building?"

    This strikes me as nothing more than another swipe at Bush masquerading as serious analysis.
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Spending at home too

    The UK has invested and paid huge sums at home, in Northern Ireland during 'The Troubles'. Some of the money has been paid to community groups, a number of which developed into the political fronts for paramilitary groups - noably on the Loyalist side. Others have commented on the huge sums spent in Northern Ireland compared to the mainland UK. Any visitor to West Belfast or Londonderry over the years would comment on the changes.

    Now tell me this type of spending in troublesome areas does not occur in the USA.

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    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default Tiresome Populist Narratives

    I tire of these populist narratives. Lt. Col. Gentile, I responded to your interesting and heart felt commentary in the IHT here:

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2008/...raq-or-are-we/

    Where I discussed the notion of singular narratives being adequate. Further, my views on payment for concerned citizens and tribal sheikhs can be found here and here and here:

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2007/...g-the-sheikhs/

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2007/...nius-or-shame/

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2007/...ategy-in-iraq/

    A quick quote:

    "Rather than an observation of the necessity for political progress, this statement follows the template of criticism set out by the left, and it has been followed with religious fervor. Note carefully what Drum charges. Rather than the seeds of violence being one thousand years of religious bigotry between Shi’a and Sunni, or recent history under Saddam’s rule, or the temptations of oil revenue in a land that has not ever seen the largesse of its natural resources due to corruption, the cause is said to be the “concerned local citizens” groups, i.e., U.S. strategy.

    This outlandish claim betrays the presuppositions behind it - specifically, that it would be somehow better to continue the fighting than to, as they charge, buy peace with money. But for the hundreds of thousands of disaffected Sunni workers who have no means to support their families, this criticism is impotent and offers no alternative to working for the insurgency to feed their children. It ignores basic daily needs, and thus is a barren and unworkable view when considering the human condition.

    The strategy all along has been one of ground-up counterinsurgency. The statements by military leadership in Iraq, far from hiding the fact that political progress must follow on the heels of military progress, show not only a knowledge of this fact, but demonstrate that it is this way by design. The intent from the beginning has been one of providing the window of opportunity for political reconciliation, at least insofar as the provision of basic human needs is concerned. In this way, command in Iraq has attacked the enemy’s strategy, and has done so with remarkable success."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny View Post
    But for the hundreds of thousands of disaffected Sunni workers who have no means to support their families,
    If by your own admission the program is a socialist make work project, isn't it fair to point out that socialist make work programs never work? Isn't if fair to point out that when we stop the payments, and they will stop, the people will still have no alternatives and in fact will have lost whatever capitalistic skills they may have had? Don't we need to have a little good old fashioned Reagan economic common sense, even in Iraq?
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    If by your own admission the program is a socialist make work project, isn't it fair to point out that socialist make work programs never work? Isn't if fair to point out that when we stop the payments, and they will stop, the people will still have no alternatives and in fact will have lost whatever capitalistic skills they may have had? Don't we need to have a little good old fashioned Reagan economic common sense, even in Iraq?
    Reaganist models of economics work much better in societies with low corruption, stability, and rule of law. Trust me, the Arabs don't lack entrepreneurial skills. They do lack a market - i.e. a populace with the means to buy the goods. Without that means, the entrepreneurs can't expand/hire/etc.

    Imagine every factory worker and civil servant in America being fired at the same time, and the effect on the economy. That's what happened in Iraq. In its place we told the "free market" to fix it, and generate new jobs. Also you should be aware that every Iraqi was on the equivalent of "food stamps" for daily needs. An entire generation under the age of 16 knows nothing but food handouts.

    Like the tribal security, state supported jobs programs are not a long term fix, but perhaps a necessary one to getting an economy going. What investor would build a new factory in Iraq in 2008? Degrading infrastructure, limited power, and extortion from terrorists and gangs make Iraq and very risky proposition. There is no enforceable contract law. The free market can't fix Iraq until Iraq gets stable, and that includes giving families work, building stability, and begins to repair its critical infrastructure. Human infrastructure such as governments and courts are equally critical. The government must provide conditions for a free market to work. So in the meantime, state programs are critical.
    Last edited by Cavguy; 01-28-2008 at 07:17 PM.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I doubt you'll get any takers.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    ...
    Now tell me this type of spending in troublesome areas does not occur in the USA.

    davidbfpo
    I sure wouldn't attempt to deny that...

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