IRack, Iraq and Iran

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 9 months ago

Today HS dropped by Abu Muqawama’s place for a rockin’ and rollin’ good time.  We’ll do so again.  The discussions in the comments, other than a good bit of sophistry to attempt to prove that Iran really isn’t involved much in Iraq, is fairly complicated and you can drop by to study them.  HS feels pretty jazzed and is ready to challenge some of the boys to a mixed martial arts cage match.  Yep, HS here is 48 mature years of age with a distinguished mixture of silver in his hair, but his bench press is pretty good and he wouldn’t hesitate to throw down with the best of ’em.  HS feels some Gracie Jiu-Jitsu coming on.

But there is an issue that is so important that we’ll tackle it again.  We never tire of pointing out the truth.  In the comments you will note a narrative that keeps coming up time and again – that is, reaching out will work, and it is exactly what was done in Anbar.  Reaching out, it is claimed, is not what we did in Basra and the balance of the South of Iraq, and thus we ceded moral authority to the Iranians.  It is the fault of not reaching out.  HS is embarrassed that it took him so long in the comments to spot this error in doctrine.  Hopefully the kind reader will forgive HS.

If this is seen as an exclusive use narrative, i.e., it is about reaching out and nothing more, then HS says balderdash!  Fairy tales, lies and myth-telling!  Sure, Captain Travis Patriquin and his cultural and language skills and ideas were important.  It is nice that Patriquin drank lots of Chai.  Many Soldiers and Marines drank lots of very sweet Chai with many Iraqis.  And it made them happy.  And they watched television inside homes too, sometimes.  Fun times all around!

But while on the one hand the U.S. “reached out” in this way, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha and his tribesmen were being bitterly fought and many were dying.  In addition to operations against the tribal fighters, a unit was specifically designated to cut his smuggling lines and thus shut down his source of income.  On a related note, HS had an opportunity to study a pre-release of Major Niel Smith’s Anbar Awakens: The Tipping Point.  In addition to including Patriquin’s slides, the good Major includes this summary point at the end: “Never stop looking for another way to attack the enemy.”  “Oooohh, said HS to Major Niel.  You are engaged in some truth-telling here.  Some of the COIN boys won’t like that very much.”  Major Niel told the truth anyway.  Here at The Captain’s Journal we call this force projection, and we have a category for it.

It’s remarkable how much easier it is to convince yourself that America should be courted when your tribesmen are showing up dead and your income has dried up because your smugglers have either been killed or cannot operate safely any more.  Sheikh Sattar’s “flipping” to our side was set up with great, painstaking care and much precision.  Also, HS has detailed knowledge of many things that happened in Fallujah in 2007 to finish off al Qaeda in Anbar, and this knowledge doesn’t change any of the above (wink!).

Counterinsurgency is certainly one part language, one part cultural knowledge, one part negotiations, and so on.  But it must be all mixed up with a healthy dose of kinetic operations against the enemy.  If those who conduct COIN do not apply it in this manner, there is no incentive to talk at the table (or over Chai).  In the South where the British were responsible, they didn’t operate from a position of strength.  From the very beginning it was soft covers, tepid rules of engagement, and a premium on nonkinetic operations.  Out of this sprang the Jaish a Mahdi and the strengthening of Badr.

And what does this all have to do with Iran?  More talks with Iran are recommended (see IRack’s post at Abu’s place).  Since HS was compared to Michael Ledeen in the comments at Abu’s place, we’ll quote Ledeen.  No, wait.  We won’t just yet.  Let’s point something out to the idiot detractors.  HS has a son who was in harm’s way in Fallujah, Iraq in 2007.  He will be again.  Ledeen has had multiple sons in harm’s way.  Neither HS nor Ledeen opines without the burden of his offspring on his heart.  This isn’t bare doctrine to us.

Ledeen also, contrary to the many doltish hacks who wish to malign his views, doesn’t favor war with Iran.  Not by a long shot.  HS has corresponded with Ledeen at length on this issue.  The opinions on Iran seem to hang around on the edges of the extreme.  Either have talks with them and hope to be successful without ever threatening military action, or go full bore into conventional operations against a uniformed army.

Each option is ugly.  The first will be unsuccessful, the second will be bloody.  Ledeen is, contrary to popular depictions, quite moderate in his views.  Push for democracy in Iran.  The end of the Khamenei regime will see the end of the meddling in Iraq.  As for talks with Iran, let’s study what Ledeen has to say about them.  Some of the authors and commenters at Abu’s place are quite young, and may not remember what someone with, um, distinguished silver in his hair may remember about Iran over lo these many years.

Senator Barack Obama wants to talk to our Middle Eastern enemies, notably Iran. He can’t imagine a happy resolution of the war without such talks. And he seems to think this desire is something new, maybe even revolutionary.

He apparently does not know that it is not at all new, and certainly not revolutionary. It is instead the fully tested “policy” of the United States for the past thirty years, ever since the seizure of power by the mullahs in 1979. We have had high-level and low-level talks, public and private talks, talks conducted by diplomats, by spooks, and by a colorful array of intermediaries ranging from former Spanish President Felipe Gonzales to nephews of Rafsanjani, Iranian-American businessmen, former NSC and CIA members, and others with more dubious qualifications.

All failed. As Ken Pollack recounts in his book, The Persian Puzzle, every carrot was offered and every stick was brandished. We tried everything. The Iranians were not interested …

Whether Badr, Sadr, Quds, IRG or the Iranian mullahs, talking from a position of weakness will lead to loss, and talking from a position of strength is always best; remember your training in Sun Tzu, dear military reader?  Does HS have to quote it for you?

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment


You are currently reading "IRack, Iraq and Iran", entry #1054 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Counterinsurgency,Iran,Iraq and was published April 21st, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (704)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (36)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (21)
Ammunition (178)
Animals (125)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (308)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (81)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (27)
Australian Army (7)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (123)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (18)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (3)
Blogs (23)
Body Armor (22)
Books (3)
Border War (14)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (38)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (4)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (15)
Christmas (13)
CIA (29)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (3)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (218)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (194)
Department of Homeland Security (26)
Disaster Preparedness (4)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (12)
Donald Trump (26)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (2)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (32)
Featured (186)
Federal Firearms Laws (18)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (1,475)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (15)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (44)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (9)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (1,389)
Guns (1,978)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (8)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (16)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (37)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (94)
India (10)
Infantry (4)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (23)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (171)
Iraq (379)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (64)
Islamists (95)
Israel (18)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (3)
Jihadists (80)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (4)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (4)
Lawfare (7)
Leadership (6)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (50)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (272)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (62)
Medical (128)
Memorial Day (6)
Mexican Cartels (37)
Mexico (54)
Michael Yon (6)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (4)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (6)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (25)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (24)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (78)
NATO (15)
Navy (24)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (3)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (58)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (221)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (7)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (69)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (2)
Pizzagate (21)
Police (554)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (921)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (251)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (75)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (32)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (447)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (28)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (23)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (33)
Survival (61)
SWAT Raids (55)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (2)
Tactical Gear (6)
Taliban (168)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (17)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (95)
Thanksgiving (12)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (22)
TSA Ineptitude (13)
TTPs (4)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (14)
U.S. Sovereignty (17)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (3)
Uncategorized (58)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (3)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (318)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (4)
War Reporting (21)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (73)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (21)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2022 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.