8 years ago
Courtesy of John Robb’s Global Guerrillas, William Lind tells us why the U.S. forces should not replace a “war with the Iraqi Sunnis with a war against the Shi’ites.”
If we replace a war against Iraqis Sunnis with a war against the Shiites, we will not only have suffered a serious, self-inflicted operational defeat, we will endanger our whole position in Iraq, since our supply lines mostly run through Shiite country.
I say such a defeat would be self-inflicted because Shiite attacks on Americans in Baghdad seem to be responses to American actions. In dealing with the Shiites, we appear to be doing what spurred the growth of the Sunni insurgency, i.e., raids, air strikes and a “kill or capture” policy directed against local Shiite leaders. Not only does this lead to retaliation, it also fractures Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army as he tries to avoid fighting us. Such fracturing works against, not for, the potential re-creation of an Iraqi state.
Notwithstanding whatever contributions William Lind has made to this field of theory, these warnings are not only based on misconception, but they also betray a lack of clear thought on the matters at hand.
As my friend Michael Ledeen is quick to point out (and has so many times to me), air raids and “kill or capture” policy didn’t spur the growth of the insurgency. Insurgencies are not born, and the Iraqi insurgency didn’t have a birthplace called Fallujah. They are planned, and the Iraqi insurgency was planned and crafted before the war began in Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran (and possibly Riyadh).
We have covered rules of engagement quite thoroughly at The Captain’s Journal, the most recent of which was an article entitled Calamity in Basra and British Rules of Engagement (which bears re-studying at this point to remind the reader about the situation in Basra after three years of the presence of the British and their ‘soft’ rules of engagement). For all of those ‘professionals’ who claim that the U.S. ROE have caused halting progress in the pacification of Iraq, it warrants serious, quiet and pensive reflection that Anbar is all but pacified and Basra is currently a calamity, having been utterly lost to the various factions of the Shia militia.
In Rise of the JAM, we covered the the current danger the Jaish al Mahdi pose to the security of Iraq, and cite Omar Fadhil on the danger Moqtada al Sadr poses to the political stability and infrastructure of the country. This is a clear and present danger, not one that awaits heavy handed U.S. rules of engagement.
Contrary to Lind’s short-sighted and hand-wringing assessment, the U.S. will choose to deal a blow to the JAM and thereby allow reconciliation among the more peaceful of the population, or it will cower to the arrogant, undisciplined teenagers roaming the streets as thugs and criminals, taking and harming whatever and whomever they wish. The first choice means stability and security for Iraq. The second means a complete, chaotic disaster.