BTW – we failed in Iraq, and you won’t want to look at what we’re about to leave behind

Crocker (and Tom R.) are wrong: The Iraqis won’t extend the U.S. presence – By Tom Ricks | The Best Defense

Despite all the hard work by the U.S. military, our coalition allies, and civilian agency partners that led to successes at the tactical and operational level, we have failed at the strategic level in Iraq. As General David Petraeus stated before testifying to Congress in April 2008: “Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences.” Part of the failure here was when the leverage was available to push the Iraqis towards societal reconciliation and the beginnings of societal/social reconstruction the Bush (43) Administration wasted the space, the COIN break if you will, by having AMB Crocker try to negotiate a SOFA agreement that the Iraqis wouldn’t and didn’t accept. At the same time negotiations were ongoing for provincial elections. As I’ve written before here at Best Defense and in other places too: the Iraqis rolled us on both sets of negotiations. They ran the clock out on us, forcing us into the security agreement as the U.N. occupation authority was running out and into blessing a hybrid electoral process for the provincial elections that was the worst possible combination — open list and proportional representation — if we wanted to overcome the problems with the 2005 elections. It also didn’t help that one of the State Department’s own election specialists did not understand the system that the Iraqi High Electoral Commission had put into place. I know he didn’t understand it because I had to explain how it was going to work to him at least five times and that was after he read the briefing paper I wrote on it for my brigade commander so that he would understand why it was a potential problem.

I appreciate that Crocker would like to do right by the Iraqis, I would like to do right by the Iraqis, but I just don’t see any way that they are going to allow significant numbers of American troops to stay. The major Iraqi factions don’t want a significant U.S. troop presence as it prevents them from settling their scores, which is what they really want to do. The Iranians that are direct patrons for Dawa and ISCI/Badr and indirect patrons to the Sadrists and the Kurds don’t want it and won’t allow it. They want us out of their near abroad as well. And how we’ve been positioning ourselves vis-a-vis the Arab Spring is making our other allies in the area very nervous too. I honestly hope I’m wrong about what is likely to happen in Iraq after U.S. forces draw down the rest of the way — but I think that the events of the last several years make that unlikely.


6 comments on “BTW – we failed in Iraq, and you won’t want to look at what we’re about to leave behind

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  1. Sheesh, but I’ve been waiting what seems like a long, long time for some idea of what’s gonna happen in Kirkuk.

  2. Yeah, me, too.

    If you read the rest of the (relatively short) article, the guy – who seems to be an authentic expert with extensive on the ground experience – says that the Kurds are biding their time to declare independence.

    An interesting new addition to the Wikipedia entry on Kirkuk:

    On Friday the 25th ( February 2011), Arab residents of the district of Hawijah took to the streets, in the following hours , they attacked all government institutions, Arab military and paramilitary units of the swaha councils joined the protesters and handed over their weapons, including 30 American made Humvees, the Arab protesters then proceeded to kurdish areas and attacked kurdish property, the city administration and the police forces called in kurdish military units. The kurdish zerevani unit reacted immediately to the distress calls of the city administration, four kurdish regiments, icluding heavy military units were ordered to the city in order to restore law and order, and they are now in full military control of Kirkuk. The Kurdish military head and kurdish parties vowed to defend the lives of the population. The kurdish military has begun to fortify its positions on the outskirts of Kirkuk.

  3. @ CK MacLeod:

    It’s not just that the Kurds are gonna try to formalize their independence, it’s also that they’ve sent more than 10,000 (maybe as many as 15,000) soldiers into Kirkuk which is outside their admin area but they claim as the capitol of Kurdistan.

    This is gonna cut the Sunnis off from the big time oil money in the area, and it’s gonna be opposed by everyone, including the Iranians and likely the Turks (unless the Kurds have worked out a very secret deal with them).

    This WILL be long and bloody and dirty.

  4. When oil was discovered by IPC in 1927, in the Kurdish area, the then
    ruling Sunni government in Baghdad, basically cut them out of the deal, same for the Shias in the former Basra province, so turnabout is
    if not fare play, appropriate

  5. @ miguel cervantes:People tend to become more insistent upon fair play when it’s them what’s not getting any. The Sunnis are going blow up a lot of shit, including Maliki, if he doesn’t blow up a lot of shit belonging to the Kurds.

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