Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Risky for Whom?

I swear, some people panic at every little thing.

As we enlist former enemies to fight the common jihadi enemies in Iraq, people here are getting nervous. This is who we are recruiting:

It includes ex-insurgents, police dropouts with checkered backgrounds, and former Al Qaeda-linked fighters – all united by a desire to rid Diyala Province of the network's influence, say US officers.

Yet this could be a problem according to those critics:

But the risks of such a temporary solution are high, say critics, and the plan could foster new, powerful militias outside the control of the Iraqi Army. It's a strategy that also threatens to further fuel sectarian battles as LRFs are largely Sunni, posing a major threat to Shiite militias. ...

"What the Americans are doing is very risky and unwise. They are planting the seeds for future wars," warned Sami al-Askari, a parliamentarian close to Maliki, commenting on groups like the LRF.

To emphasize the risk, the article asserts, without a shred of evidence:

It also seems to indicate that the Americans are willing to take a short-term gamble on the LRFs in order to show some successes in the fight against AQI before September, when a highly anticipated progress report on Iraq is due to Congress.

Gamble? Certainly this is a risk. But more for those coming over to us to fight al Qaeda in Iraq.

But is it really a bigger problem to have militias of identified people potentially out of government control or actual insurgents fighting the government?

And wouldn't Sunni militias be far less likely to provoke sectarian fighting with Shia militias as jihadi suicide bombers?

Further, are you actually saying that the enemy can never give up and change sides? Are you insisting that this be a fight to the death? This is not what counter-insurgency is about! It is a good thing that the enemy defects to our side.

And consider the risk those who defect run. If we cooperate and crush al Qaeda, do the new allies really have the option of just returning to fighting us? When they've just lost a very important jihadi ally? When the government has a better idea of who the Sunni Arab fighters are? These guys run a greater risk that the Shia and Kurds will turn on them once the jihadis are defeated.

Local defense forces that include even former enemies are a good idea. Do they need to be supervised? Absolutely. There are risks involved, but on the whole the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Good grief people, let's solve one problem at a time. There is no omnibus solution to all of Iraq's many problems.