Monday, April 17, 2006


Baghdad to be liberated, again, this summer

From The Sunday Times (UK):
The American military is planning a “second liberation of Baghdad” to be carried out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed.

Pacifying the lawless capital is regarded as essential to establishing the authority of the incoming government and preparing for a significant withdrawal of American troops.

Helicopters suitable for urban warfare, such as the manoeuvrable AH-6 “Little Birds” used by the marines and special forces and armed with rocket launchers and machineguns, are likely to complement the ground attack.
Yes, that is what is needed, more rocket attacks. Especially rocket attacks in an urban setting. That has always worked so well, not only in Baghdad, but also in Afghanistan (7 Afghan civilians die in military attack) along with the occupied West Bank.
The sources said American and Iraqi troops would move from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, leaving behind Sweat teams — an acronym for “sewage, water, electricity and trash” — to improve living conditions by upgrading clinics, schools, rubbish collection, water and electricity supplies.
I hope no one reading this thinks this will actually happen, the improving of living conditions. I would love to be wrong with my skepticism, but the last three years leaves me feeling the re-construction phase of this operation will get under-funded and over-extended.

Naturally, there is the political dimension to these plans. Since the whole war seems to have been one big political operation, why should this be any different.
Bush and Rumsfeld are under intense pressure to prove to the American public that Iraq is not slipping into anarchy and civil war. An effective military campaign could provide the White House with a bounce in the polls before the mid-term congressional elections in November. With Bush’s approval ratings below 40%, the vote is shaping up to be a Republican rout.
(A realistic appraisal of the GOP's election prospects; your guide to quality reporting.) A bit late to be worrying about civil war, don't you think?

I'll let Larry Wilkerson have the last word on this:
“They have to show they can liberate their own capital,” he said. “Baghdad is the key to stability in Iraq. It’s a chance for the new government to stand up and say, ‘Here we are’. They can’t do that if they are hunkered down in bunkers.”

Meanwhile, The WashPost is reporting
Iraq's top legislator postponed the meeting of parliament scheduled for Monday, putting off "for a few days" an attempt to resolve a months-long deadlock over the formation of the country's new government.
So there might be some delay before a new government is installed.

On the face of it, this planned operation is an excellent idea. If everything goes as planned, could bring stability of Iraq and allow US troops to start returning home. But the whole idea of everything going as planned, when the military still has Rumfeld at the helm, seems overly optimistic. And overly optimistic war plans from this civilian leadership has been its tragic flaw. Its the unlucky gambler, hoping this one last bet will be the one clear up all the past loses. And sadly in the case, we are measuring past loses in lives.

Even if there is success with operation and Baghdad is made secure, what about the rest of the country? I can not help but think in terms of Afghanistan and Kabul. At this point, Karzi is the PM of Kabul and the Taliban are on the rise.

Realistically, I see two outcomes for this. One, this is last we hear of this idea. The situation in Iraqi appears to be deteriorating so fast this month. By summertime and maybe even if there really is a functioning Iraqi government, the real situation on the ground will need a different plan.

Or secondly, even given the above and the operation goes forward, the war in Iraq finally makes that last complete descent into door-to-door urban warfare against indigenous local guerrilla forces. And I so much want to be wrong on this last point. But the insistence of Bush and Rumsfeld to let their ideas, not their generals, lead their thinking scares me.

Stop by DailyKos to take my poll.

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