Monday, January 08, 2007
The key to pacification of Iraq, if that is your goal, and it is certainly Bush’s goal before he leaves office is Baghdad. With 6.5 million people and a mix of Sunni and Shia neighborhoods it is the key to breaking the will of the insurgents. Who are the insurgents? They are a mix of Sunni Baathists and foreign volunteers, nominally run by Al-Qaeda. When the war ended, the Baathist civilian population was left in tact. Moreover the disbanding of the army returned unemployed Baathist leaders and unemployed privates back to their Sunni Baathist neighborhoods. The Baathists had 30 years of experience in terrorizing the local population. After the war it was business as usual except for killing Americans. What the Baathists had at the end of the war were weapons and money. Remember they were the rich. Rich, experienced, armed out of work Baathists are able to use money, intimidation and kidnapping to create a very capable guerilla operation. James Dunnigan sums it up very well in his article on Baathists. “However, the only Iraqi Islamic radicals that support al Qaeda are the Sunni Arab ones, and these are a minority of the Sunni Arab (20 percent of the population) minority. Moreover, most of the muscle, and money, for anti-government violence comes from Sunni Arab supporters of the Baath Party.” The Baathists with the aid of the foreign insurgents, Al-Qaeda types, are the backbone of the insurgency. Well armed, well led, experienced and well financed. A formidable enemy. The Baathists supply the ambushes and the Al-Qaeda supply suicide bombers. An outstanding force when you through in the hysterical American media.
The war can be broken into 2 parts that have radically different tactics. One is defense. Keeping the good guys alive and reacting to ambushes, IEDs and the latest tactic, snipers. The other part is offensive, going out and rooting out the bad guys where they live. Most Americans picture our guys fighting it out on the streets with armed bands of bad guys. Nothing can be further from the truth. That may be what you see in the drive by media, but the real work is being done house to house. An article written by Marine non coms gives you an in depth understanding of how the Marine Corps accomplishes pacification. It is a must read for everyone. A critical insight is that the Baathists shoot and scoot while the foreigners don’t care if they die.
Last we have George Will weighing in today on expectation of what the surge will look like. It is not very optimistic, mostly concentrating on why it won’t work. He sums it up with,” Baghdad today is what Wayne White -- for 26 years with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, now with the Middle East Institute -- calls ``a Shiite-Sunni Stalingrad.'' Imagine a third nation's army operating between -- and against -- both the German and Russian forces in Stalingrad. That might be akin to the mission of troops sent in any surge.”
I propose a solution to win. First, I agree with the Bush administration that they made a big mistake clearing out a section of a city and moving on. The shoot and scoot Baathists just move back in. Baghdad is 6.5 million people. A rough guess is that means 4.5 million Sunnis a minority of which are Baathists. Lets assume a high number of 1 million Baathists.
The key to any war, including an insurgency is money. The Baathists have a bunch. The insurgents are externally funded. We also have a good prediction of how the bad guys will react to a surge. The Baathists will shoot and scoot and the foreigners will fight to the death. Lets forget that Bushes latest number of 20,000 troops against 4.5M, 1M of whom are hostile is a joke. But we have the help of the Iraqi Army. We don’t need them to fight; we just need them to occupy the sections we clear, block by block. We leave the Shia blocks alone. We tell Sadr to take a holiday. All we want from him is local advisors to separate the Shia from the Sunni in the mixed neighborhoods. Second you have to provide separation between the Sunnis and Shiites. You create an uninhabited DMZ, bulldozing all the buildings and adding land mines. See how below. Have monitored checkpoints to allow some commerce to flow.
If all we do is shoot at those who shoot at us, the Baathists will melt away taking their money and weapons with them. Our first goal will be to remove all the Baathists, men, women and children. How do you tell if they are Baathists? Former Saddam records, Shia informers and everyday Sunnis. You pack the Baathists in their cars or army trucks, take their money and send them packing to Syria. You lean on the commoner Sunnis to finger all the Bathists in their block. If they don’t cooperate, they also go on the trucks. They will quickly get the picture. Next you round up all the unemployed Sunni males of fighting age. This will be a bunch because unemployment is very high. They go on the trucks. Any household of “means” and the well to do neighborhoods, you round them all up. The key is to get the Baathist money out of Iraq, that is what is buying the fighters from the ranks of the unemployed. Of course, you kill all of the foreigners. The common Sunnis have to finger them as well. It is very simple to identify the foreigners because Iraq was a police state based on the Russian model. Everyone was required to carry extensive identification. No identification, you go on the trucks. If they are foreigners, you shoot them.
How will Syria react? Syria is run by the Baathists. They will gladly take in the Baathists and they all will have cars and will disperse into the Syrian society. What about the common Sunnis? Syria will balk at taking them. Use an armored division to clear out 20 miles of space and set up a tent city for 2.5M people. Provide food, water, medicine and shelter. We are already doing this now. Give Syria 3 months to take over maintenance of the camps. Seal the borders? How? A combination of Iraqi troops and landmines. Did you say landmines! Yep, take a lesson from the Pakistanis who are mining their border with Afghanistan. But we would do the humanitarian thing to string 2 barbwire fences, enclosing the mines, with warning signs every 10 feet. When we finish with Syria, we mine the boarder with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iran, the major sources of foreign insurgents. Time required, one year. Move on to other Sunni cites and repeat the process in the second year.
Liberty or Death