Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Game of Chicken

Jaafari won't step down to end the deadlock over a new Iraqi government and violence in Baghdad is continuing.

Meanwhile, US and Iraqi troops fight the enemy but have not crushed them:

Iraqi and US forces battled rebels in Baghdad for the second straight day as car bombs exploded near two Shiite mosques in a wave of violence that has surged amid the country's protracted power vacuum.

Is it really true that the power vaccum is preventing us from fighting the enemy? When we fought under our rule, an interim government, and under a permanent constitution, we suddenly cannot fight because the Iraqi political parties have yet to work out a deal based on the results of the December election? I don't think so.

Recall that there is a report that amidst the enemy's decision to focus on Baghdad, we are planning a "second liberation of Baghdad." Says the Times of London:

THE American military is planning a “second liberation of Baghdad” to be carried out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed.

Pacifying the lawless capital is regarded as essential to establishing the authority of the incoming government and preparing for a significant withdrawal of American troops.

Strategic and tactical plans are being laid by US commanders in Iraq and at the US army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, under Lieutenant- General David Petraeus. He is regarded as an innovative officer and was formerly responsible for training Iraqi troops.

The battle for Baghdad is expected to entail a “carrot-and-stick” approach, offering the beleaguered population protection from sectarian violence in exchange for rooting out insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda.

Sources close to the Pentagon said Iraqi forces would take the lead, supported by American air power, special operations, intelligence, embedded officers and back-up troops.

It really sounds like a game of chicken. We don't want Jaafari to get the credit for a military campaign right now that hits the enemy hard, and so are holding back, I think. There is no reason we can't fight now in this period of a "vaccuum" as we have for three years. We are counting on the violence pressuring the Iraqis to make concessions and force Jaafari out. At which point the campaign to root out the Baathists and jihadis in Baghdad (and against the militias, too, probably) will commence.

Of course, holding back allows the enemy to act with more freedom; which may explain our uptick in combat deaths this month after five months of decline. And it may also explain why it seems like the enemy has been able to launch several large (50 or so enemy) attacks on American and Iraqi forces lately.

I suppose in this light, enemy attacks and calls in this country to withdraw might actually (and unintentionally I am sure) be having a good effect by making Iraqi leaders worry we might pull out too soon.

We shall see.

UPDATE: The other guy may have just swerved to avoid the collision:

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, under intense pressure to give up plans for a second term, agreed Thursday to let Shiite leaders reconsider his nomination, a step that could mark a breakthrough in the months-long effort to form a new government.

We shall see.