How depressing a thought. And I have news for the politicians, American presence is not making a difference. The outcome here is inevitable for the Iraqi people, but what is not discussed is the outcome for America. Unfortunately, too many politicians are not connecting the dots.
First let’s look at the core strategy choices,
- US troops “clear, hold and build.” As the linked article states, this strategy depends on Iraqi troop ability to “hold.” Clear, hold and build has been Bush administration strategy since the central government’s fall. The problem, no group can consistently hold, because Iraq’s underlying fabric is not unified. The only holding that occurs is based on religious lines. Presence of the US troops do not address this problem. Actually, continued training, weapons, and support will results in stronger sectarian lines eventually being drawn.
- US troops “occupy and police by force.” The fear of the Islamic extremist and many others throughout the world. No occupying force is acceptable good intentions or not. The American people clearly do not want this strategy, UN nations (and other permanent security council members) do not want this option.
- US troops “train, advise, supply and back-up” Iraqi forces. The likely path according to the article. But playing out this strategy without a strong central government results, as predicted in strategy one,in strong regional but sectarian based militias. Because the US cannot enforce a national government that does not exist, we will resort to supporting strong local militias. For recent experience, see Anbar province. Anbar province’s success is not due to Iraqi national army strength, but local Sunni militia strength.
Consequently, whichever strategy employed yields the same outcome strong local militias. Why, you might think. Because the country, was never unified. It was held together by force under Saddam, much like the old Yugoslavia was held together by the Russian army. When the Russian force went away, five countries resulted, all split largely along religious lines. Iraq will follow the same path.
So if US presence offers no consequence to the ultimate outcome (presuming the American public prohibits logical strategy number two) then we must be concerned with the probability of civil war in Iraq’s future.
The war threat falls into two categories
First, the three sectarian areas, start attacking natural enemies. There are many historic reasons these groups might attack so the reason is irrelevant. Therefore, the question is, how does the world stop an Iraqi all-out-regional war.
The natural lines are:
- Fight for Kurdish national state, spurring fights for territory with Turkey and Iran both have large Kurdish minority populations.
- Fight for Shia majority/authority with Iran aligned with southern Iraq against the Sunni aligned by numerous Sunni majority countries the largest being Saudi Arabia. This would largely be based on revenge for past Sunni sins, and religious hatred. There are a long list of events to spark Shia/Sunni conflict from either perspective.
Stopping these fights, a concerted effort from the countries that buy the one commodity that funds such a war oil. Which means Europe and the US. Russia and China cannot be counted on because their energy supply priorities are elsewhere. This means money. Money to pay soldiers and to maintain enough force to keep the waring sides at bay. While some Americans feel guilty for starting this sequence of events, I don’t. The principle “you broke it you own it” just cannot apply. Not all mistakes can be remedied. The problem is too big,financially, for America to “own” by itself. And this reality is the connect the dots exercise the politicians are missing. Symptoms of US financial peril:
- The George W. Bush presidency has suffered the largest decline in foreign currency rates ever.
- Foreign country ownership of US assets are increasingly moving beyond government bonds.
- US current account balance, absorbs more than 95% of the world’s surplus, and has grown as a percentage of domestic income to unsustainable levels (>9%).
All these symptoms result in people with money increasingly starting to dictate the rules and policies. Or in Murphy’s Law terms-he who has the gold makes the rules. Many outside the American country, will recognize this prophecy as America’s past behavior being brought to bear inside the country. It may be, but it does not mean Americans should accept the idea. Financial ruin is not inevitable.
Democrat or Republican, not getting a handle on reversing the use of debt for US priorities leads us toward catastrophic effects: threats to the American public lifestyle, mindset, and well-being. There was a time when Republicans recognized the country must control spending and debt less we risk economic disaster. Historically Republican focus was government spending that in essence redistributed wealth from rich to poor, white to black, or citizen to immigrant (or any other similarly hated groups). How ironic, the risk of financial disaster for the economy, will come from exercising perceived military might by a loose spending Republican President and Congress.
Democrats take heed, politics is not complicated, keep total spending under control, and prioritize the spending that wins votes. We have proven for the last few years, winning votes with fear risk financial ruin. We are better than that.