Sunday, February 25, 2007

With allies like this, who needs insurgencies?

England is supposed to be the right hand of the "coalition of the willing." One would think that would qualify the Brits as allies. Well, it seems that they're not so willing anymore. Just as Bush is beginning to surge 21,500 additional troops into Baghdad, his key ally in the war, Tony Blair, is pulling out 2,100 of his own troops from Basra.

In total denial of the implications, the Bush administration is painting the withdrawal as a "sign of success." Vice president Dick Cheney said "I look at it and what I see is an affirmation of the fact that in parts of Iraq ... things are going pretty well." What Cheney failed to consider is that Basra is right on the supply line to Baghdad. With reduced security in the south of Iraq, the logistics supporting the surge are compromised, right at the time when they become most crucial.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces are supposed to be the Americans' allies in Baghdad. Iraq's forces are leading American troops into Baghdad for the White House's 'new' Clear, Hold, and Build strategy (which didn't seem to make a dent in the insurgency when American troops tried it a year ago). However, it turns out the reason the mostly Shiite Iraqi forces are leading the American troops into Baghdad is so that they can warn Shiite residents to hide their weapons and other incriminating paraphernalia from the Americans. It seems the Iraqi forces are more like insurgents than national police officers.

The implication of Bush's 'surge' strategy is that, while there will be an initial swelling in forces, it will not be sustained. However, Gen. David Petraeus's counterinsurgency plan, which is setting up hundreds of "mini-forts" all over Baghdad and the rest of the country, will take at least five years to as much as ten years to complete. With 160,000 American troops leveraged all around Iraq for many years to come, and insecure supply lines, they will need more allies, not more insurgents.

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