Monday, February 02, 2015

Bad Partner

While I think our strategy for dealing with ISIL in Iraq is basically sound--if our enemy gives us the time to set up the killing blow--Iran could yet undermine any battlefield victory we achieve. It's well past time the Obama administration recognized that Iran is no partner.

The massacre of Sunni Arabs by Shia militias at Diyala is what we can expect Iran to encourage in order to alienate the Sunni Arabs of Iraq and the wider Arab world from Iraq's Shia-dominated government.

Indeed, even before our surge offensive, I worried that the pro-Iran Shias were the biggest long-term problem we had to face in Iraq. Iran was (and is) an enemy that wants to win in Iraq.

And giving Iraq the security to reject Iranian influence was a main reason I wanted to keep 25,000 US troops in Iraq after 2011.

Remember that Saudi Arabia only recently decided to open an embassy in Iraq. This reflects the bias of the Sunni Arab world against Shias and their suspicion that Iraq's rulers are more Shia than Arab. So just a little bit of killing can alienate the Sunni Arab world and make Iran the only alternative Iraq has for local allies. We must resist that.

But how can we wage this war when our president sees Iran as a potential partner (on nuclear issues, of all things!) rather than the enemy it is?

Indeed, how can our president defeat enemies when he doesn't seem to really believe we are a nation at war?

As I have from the beginning, I will support our president to win our wars. Yet even after 6 years of being the president while our troops are at war, our president is still not a war president.

For Iraq, our diplomacy should focus on making Iraq expel Iranian advisors and tame those militias to make them true self defense forces and not Iran's proto-Hezbollah.

If we can't do that, even if we execute our Iraq strategy and achieve a victory over ISIL in Iraq, we'll be winning in Iraq for Iran.

That would certainly be smart diplomacy, I'll admit. Iran's smart diplomacy.

Fortunately, now that Democrats are expressing opposition to the president's foreign policy, such dissent is no longer racist as we've long been lectured. So we have that going for us.


"Quite frankly, we need to see in Iraq political outreach that addresses the fact that some 20 million Sunnis are disenfranchised with their government," Lieutenant General William Mayville told a hearing on global threats facing the United States.

One, WTF? Really, general? There aren't 20 million Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Maybe 6 million.

And having a US general say there are 20 million feeds into the Iraqi Sunni Arab fantasy that they actually are the majority and so deserve to rule Iraq as they did when Saddam was around. Good grief.

Two, getting rid of Iran's presence in Iraq should be the first objective in trying to get the Sunni Arabs and Shias working together against ISIL and after.

UPDATE: Related. Letting Shia militias hopped up on Iranian ideology advance into Sunni Arab areas occupied by ISIL will just risk changing the Sunni-Shia fight rather than end it.

UPDATE: While I have no problem using these guys--in this case the pro-Iran Badr Brigade militia--as shock troops to defeat ISIL in Iraq (kill two birds with one stone, eh?) once ISIL is driven out of any particular area, these guys need to be kept away from the people they liberate and there needs to be a plan to disarm them when no longer needed.