Saturday, November 17, 2007

The British Unsurge is working

Ian Welsh presents a good point that the presence of coalition troops in Iraq (and quite probably Afghanistan) is actually the disease, not the cure.

A case in point is the reaction of insurgent militias to the British withdrawal from the field in Iraq's Basra province.
The British army says violence in Basra has fallen by 90% since it withdrew from the southern Iraqi city earlier this year.

Around 500 British soldiers left one of Saddam Hussein's palaces in the heart of the city in early September and stopped conducting regular foot patrols.

A spokesman says the Iraqi security forces still come under attack from militants in Basra, but the overall level of violence is down 90% since the British troops left.

Britain is scheduled to return control of Basra province to Iraqi officials next month, officially ending Britain's combat role in Iraq.

This underscores the effect of two completely different strategies in dealing with the violence in Iraq. One being the US method of doing business, (beat them until we all bleed to death), the other being the British solution, (let's just back away and let them sort it out themselves).

The time has long past where we can continue to point fingers at the Bush administration and declare that the conditions in Iraq are a George W. Bush creation of his own making. We already know that and only a total idiot could argue otherwise. Our best hope is that someday, someone has the brass to haul Bush and his cohort into a court of law and charge them with waging aggressive war and all other associated crimes commensurate with the actions of a country attempting to expand beyond its direct control of peoples beyond it borders.

The so-called "Surge" is little more than an escalation. In order for it to be declared a success it requires attrition of insurgent militias on a scale which would leave them unable to regroup, re-man and re-arm. Few resistant insurgencies in history have ever been broken to the degree that they have been rendered totally inert.

The surge operation in Iraq, the concentration of troops intended to break the resistant militias, is faced with a problem the Bush administration is either unable or unwilling to comprehend. Even if General David Petraeus reaches a point where he can declare the operation a success, he must surely know that he can never win. Once the surge operation winds down, the militias will gear-up, unless Petraeus can assure everyone that absolutely none of the prime movers of those militias remain in place. The arithmetic is pretty basic.

The US modus operandi seems to have an associated message. Something along the line of, If you persist, we'll teach you a lesson you'll never forget.

The problem is, the resistant militias are aware of that lesson. They are prepared to continue anyway. Given the method of warfare the resistant militias employ, sending in more troops just enriches their targeting opportunities.

The long and short of it is, regardless of what Bush, Cheney, Gates and Petraeus think they are likely to accomplish, in the end there will still be groups of insurgents prepared to start the whole thing over again. The "Surge" will have the end result of having wasted lives, resources and riches for nothing more than achieving a delay in the inevitable. The factions that feed the insurgency will continue to vie for power.

The British have simply cut out the middle. With a longer history and some bitter lessons sewn onto regimental banners, they recognized that a persistent insurgency in Basra was not only something they could not defeat using typical patrol or cordon and search methods, but that employing those kinds of tactics was probably contributing to the problem. The very presence of the British army was the fuel which resistant groups needed to justify their campaign.

By removing themselves from the field, the British have reduced the opportunity for insurgent militias to strike and eliminated at least one vital reason for the existence of such groups. The British have employed a firefighting technique which always works. In the absence of overwhelming force (a principle which has never been applied in either the Iraq or Afghanistan occupations), find a way to eliminate one element of the tetrahedron which allows a fire to continue burning and the fire will go out.

While I hold no hope that the minds in the Bush administration can see anything beyond a misplaced belief that merely possessing the means to turn an entire country into a glass parking lot will cause them to eventually achieve dominion over Iraq, it's worth noting that they have yet to even try another method. While it is easily recognized that diplomacy and negotiation are beyond the intellectual and academic reach of the current US administration, at some point the realization that their current limited approach is only exacerbating the problem has to eventually hit home.

Having created the vacuum which allowed a resistant insurgency to flourish, they are now feeding it while, at the same time, attempting to quash it.

Of course, that methodology crawls up from the likes of vile Bush admin insiders like Michael Ledeen whose words are repeated as some form of holy mantra by the profoundly stupid.

The British method may not be perfect, but it is considerably more successful than the Bush method. So, why won't the US even attempt the British strategy? Easy. With depraved and penetratingly ignorant people in possession of an unearned and bequeathed journalistic platform saying things like this:

There is nothing we want to see happen in the Middle East that can be accomplished through talking around long tables festooned with bottled water and fresh fruit at Swiss hotels, that cannot be accomplished faster and more permanently through war. But there is plenty that cannot be achieved by such gabfests that can only be achieved through war.

There is little hope that the Bush administration, the prime audience of such remarkably hebetudinous thought, can see anything at the table beyond the water bottles and the fruit. Because they view all other persons at the table as culturally and militarily inferior. War works for the Bushs and the Goldbergs of this world because it requires a minimal expenditure of mental energy. And since they have very little to begin with, they can't afford to waste it on anything beyond the examination of their own navels.

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