Mailvox: on the surge

EN approves of today’s column on “The Surge”:

In early April I talked with a major whose work involved negotiating and complying with agreements. In other words he did logistics work for the Sheiks after his higher agreed on the bribe. Tactically we’re working with the existing structure of tribal leaders (sheiks) and ethnic minorities. The strategic goal is gradually returning power to the Iraqis as it was in the time of Saddam and a millennium before that… There is no grand strategic goal beyond our leaving.

We work with three Sheiks in a similar geographic area. All Sheiks work together but are enemies at different times. Turf wars have always been common. Any Sheik who works against the US can expect the US Army and Marines, plus the other two well bribed Sheiks (who are usually traditional enemies with each other) to attack the uncooperative. This is the same long term tactic the Brits used in the area and wouldn’t be surprised if the Brits helped us with it. It’s working but it’s only a short term solution.

BTW, when Col. Douglas MacGregor worked on the original invasion plans we were supposed to begin the Carrot-Stick immediately. Rumsfeld and the other neocons decided they had their moment and that Iraq was prostrate before our invading army. It became an occupation with families having their doors kicked in at will and the local power structure ignored, and worse, most of the Sheiks were arrested. We created the power vacuum that AQ stepped into. It’s not surprising that AQ would be losing with our current tactics. No Sheik wants a neighborhood full of foreigners/freeloaders that he has to feed and then deal with ever heavy hand of the US army when the AQ insurgents did something outrageous.

This underlines one point that I failed to highlight in today’s column. Defeating al-Qaida in Iraq is not tantamount to victory in Iraq, as it is only one of the elements active there and it is not even one of the four most important elements to be taken into account. In Iraqi terms, Al-Qaida has been little more than a weapon to be wielded against the USA or rival domestic powers, depending upon the current state of the dynamic balance of power.