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Just two months ago, President Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq:
The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.While security was obviously priority one, he acknowledged that a military solution alone wouldn't solve all Iraq's problems:
A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.For instance...
To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs.Beyond Iraq,
We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government.Two months later, and an unprecedented meeting of Iraq's neighbors has occurred. And the General shouldering the responsibility for making that new security plan a reality has given his first briefing from Baghdad.
Iraqi and coalition forces are steadily building their strength to support the operation in Baghdad. The last of nine Iraqi surge battalions and the second of five U.S. surge brigades have just entered Baghdad. This buildup will continue throughout the spring, with all U.S. and Iraqi forces dedicated to the mission in place by about early June.Note he's of the same mindset as the President regarding the civilian/military effort. As for PRT's - the President mentioned those, too:
As our military effort surges in the greater Baghdad area and in Al Anbar province, a complementary effort will be carried out on the civilian side in the form of a joint Department of State/Department of Defense initiative to double the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq from 10 to 20.
As with the military effort, the focus will be on Baghdad and Al Anbar Province. These PRTs will draw on civilian and military expertise to help the Iraqis build capacity in the provinces and support local initiatives.
Meanwhile, other efforts, including one focused on the rule of law, will assist certain Iraqi ministries in Baghdad as they work to improve their capabilities and capacity.
We are, in any event, still in the early days of this endeavor, an endeavor that will take months, not days or weeks, to fully implement, and one that will have to be sustained to achieve its desired effect.
We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance.Back to that "reconciliation" concept in a moment. But first, how goes the joint effort? Here's General Petraeus:
While too early to discern significant trends, there have been a few encouraging signs. Sectarian killings, for example, have been lower in Baghdad over the past several weeks than in the previous month. There also appears to have been less sectarian displacement in the past month; in fact, some families have returned to the neighborhoods from which they were displaced, although in small numbers so far. Iraqi and coalition forces have uncovered stockpiles of explosively formed penetrators in Diyala province and in Baghdad, with 96 weapons caches found in the Multinational Division Baghdad area alone in the past two weeks. Additionally, two major car bomb factories have been destroyed on the outskirts of Baghdad. Hundreds of extremists have been captured or killed, including some mid-level members of al Qaeda Iraq and other extremist groups. And we have destroyed several trucks equipped with heavy machine guns used for engaging our aircraft.So, with a regional conference, a hydrocarbon law ("oil deal") and a pledge of billions, it looks like the Iraqi government has met a few "key benchmarks" - good. But as General Petraeus repeats, violence continues - and improving security is priority one, and precedes any possibility of progress on other fronts.
Beyond Baghdad, moreover, a number of tribes in Anbar province have in recent months finally said, "enough," and begun to link arms against extremist operatives who have killed their sheikhs and sought to poison their young people's minds.
Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders have moved forward on some important pieces of legislation, most notably the draft national hydrocarbon law, which treats Iraq's petroleum revenues as a national asset to be shared equitably among Iraq's provinces and regions. The government of Iraq has made several budgetary advances in recent weeks as well, to include earmarking $7.3 billion for security-related expenses and over $10 billion for capital investment in vital infrastructure, pushing 2.4 billion reconstruction dollars directly to the provincial governments, and conducting the conference yesterday led by the deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, on spending that money appropriately for the Iraqi people.
Coalition and Iraqi soldiers and police have had some tough days as well. It is such violence that Iraqi and coalition forces will work together to reduce in the months ahead, recognizing, to be sure, that some sensational attacks inevitably will continue to take place, though every effort will be made to reduce their number by identifying and destroying the networks and facilities of the bombers, and by interdicting those who would visit such violence on the Iraqi people.Once security is established, progress will follow:
We and our Iraqi partners recognize that improving security for the Iraqi people is the first step in rekindling hope. The upward spiral we all want begins with Iraqi and coalition forces working together and locating in the neighborhoods those forces must secure. This concept features Iraqi and coalition soldiers partnering with local police to establish joint security stations, such as the one we began establishing in Sadr City on Monday, as well as combat outposts to ensure continuous presence in local communities. It also includes the establishment of checkpoints, the hardening of marketplaces, the conduct of patrols, and the execution of operations to capture or kill terrorists and criminals. Importantly, Iraqi and coalition forces will not just clear neighborhoods, they will also hold them to facilitate the build phase of the operation and help Baghdad's residents realize aspirations beyond survival.
As citizens feel safer, conditions will be set for the resumption and improvement of basic services. This is hugely important. Indeed, Iraqis have often ranked the provision of services ahead of security in importance. And it is vital that the ministry representatives in the neighborhoods are able to provide for their constituents. Also, as security improves, commerce will return and local economies will grow, thereby providing an opportunity for the energies of a resilient and talented people to be expended in increasingly productive endeavors.
Each step in this process helps reinforce the desired momentum, and over time, the government and its ministries will be able to gain the population's confidence and support by demonstrating the capability to deliver.
Indeed, our operations will endeavor to provide Iraq citizens and leaders a chance to mend that fabric. If we can do this -- and I do believe that Iraqi and coalition soldiers and police will be able to improve levels of security for the Iraqi population -- then the Iraqi government will have the chance it needs to resolve some of the difficult issues it faces, to develop the capacity of its institutions, to improve the delivery of basic services to its citizens and to reconcile the differences between the factions that are the stakeholders in the new Iraq. Our effort, thus, will be to provide the Iraqi government an opportunity to shape the future of a new state in an ancient land.Note the reference to "reconcile the factions..." As noted previously, it's a word the president used, too - in the same context:
Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace -- and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.General Petraeus is optimistic:
And again, I think we should watch actions in terms of reconciliation, and so forth, again, in the weeks ahead as the Council of Representatives reconvenes, and so on.The term was heard again later:
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- from Al Hurra. Could you confirm to us, please, that there is a dialogue between the American officials and the Mahdi Army militias and some armed groups like the Islamic Party in Iraq?Here's one example of dealing with "reconcilables".
GEN. PETRAEUS: In an endeavor like this one, the host nation and those who are assisting it obviously are trying to determine over time who are the irreconcilables and who are the reconcilables. And they're on either end of the sectarian spectrum, of ethnic spectrums, political spectrums and so forth. And of course, what the government is trying to do, what those supporting the government are trying to do are to split the irreconcilables from the reconcilables and to make the reconcilables part of the solution rather than a continuing part of a problem, and then dealing with the irreconcilables differently. And that is certainly what the government of Iraq is doing and what those who are supporting the government of Iraq -- what the coalition is also doing, in very, very early stages.
And here's one way the "irreconcilables" are dealt with:
But General Petraeus knows that we aren't going to kill everyone who's ever looked menacingly at an American GI - hence the effort to identify the "reconcilables" and convince them to join the winning team - a non-military solution that saves a lot of bloodshed on both sides - as the General makes clear in response to a very specific question posed late in the briefing:
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- from the NBC. I have two questions ...Second question: You said that the host country can determine who are the reconcilable groups. But everybody should be under the supremacy of law, and all military activities should be cancelled. So how are these people going to be part of the solution?Yet another explanation of the fundamental civilian/military solution President Bush - with the consent of the Senate - has sent him to enact. Although hardly news, the media welcomed General Petraeus to Baghdad by seizing on that comment and pretending it was. Some fairly...
GEN. PETRAEUS: With respect, again, to the -- you know, the idea of the reconcilables and the irreconcilables, this is something in which the Iraqi government obviously has the lead. It is something that they have sought to -- in some cases, to reach out. And I think, again, that any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq. Military action is necessary to help improve security, for all the reasons that I stated in my remarks, but it is not sufficient.
A political resolution of various differences, of this legislation, of various senses that people do not have a stake in the success of the new Iraq, and so forth, that is crucial. That is what will determine in the long run the success of this effort. And again, that clearly has to include talking with and eventually reconciling differences with some of those who have felt that the new Iraq did not have a place for them, whereas I think, again, Prime Minister Maliki clearly believes that it does, and I think that his actions will demonstrate that, along with the other ministers.
Iraq War Commander: Military Alone Won't WinAnd others, well, not so much. From the London Times:
As additional U.S. troops continue to flow into Baghdad, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, warned that force alone would not get the job done.
"Any student of history knows there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq," said Petraeus. "Military action is necessary to help improve security … but it is not sufficient."
No military solution to Iraq, warns new US commanderTo the Seattle Times:
The new US commander in Iraq has admitted that insurgents have intensified their attacks during the security crackdown in Baghdad, as he warned that there was no military solution to the nation’s bloody conflict.
"No military solution" in Iraq...and all points in between.
BAGHDAD — The new U.S. commander in Iraq acknowledged Thursday that U.S.-led forces could not protect all Iraqis from "thugs with no soul" bent on reigniting sectarian warfare.
"Any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq," Army Gen. David Petraeus said at his first news conference since assuming command last month.
Headlines at CNN: No military solution to Iraq - U.S. chief
And Reuters: U.S. commander says no military solution to Iraq
We could go on. But those who've been paying attention to Iraq recognize those headlines for what they are. However, not everyone is paying full attention to Iraq these days - at least, that's what some are hoping:
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, challenged President Bush on Saturday over his threat to reject an Iraq spending bill if it calls for a troop withdrawal...
“With his veto threat,” she said in a statement, “the president offers only an open-ended commitment to a war without end that dangerously ignores the repeated warnings of military leaders, including the commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, who declared in Baghdad this week that the conflict cannot be resolved militarily.”
(By the way, the bill also includes $20 billion for non-military "pet projects" - described by the Times as simply "unrelated provisions that can attract votes". Perhaps there will be a "deal"?)
"...the conflict cannot be resolved militarily". Not only did he not say that, in his January Senate confirmation hearing,
When questioned directly, Petraeus said he would not be able to do his job as commander of MNFI without the additional 21,000 troops President Bush has pledged to Iraq.But don't expect the General to provide clarification to the confused - he's already been advised against that - at those same hearings:
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) asked Army Lt. Gen. David H . Petraeus during his confirmation hearing yesterday if Senate resolutions condemning White House Iraq policy "would give the enemy some encouragement."I think it will be worthwhile to "go back and examine the transcript" whenever anyone quotes the General from here on out.
Petraeus agreed they would, saying, "That's correct, sir."
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), ...later explained to the general that he needed to be more careful about appearing to wade into a political debate...
"I hope that this colloquy has not entrapped you into some responses that you might later regret. I wonder if you would just give me the assurance that you'll go back and examine the transcript as to what you replied with respect to certain of these questions and review it, because we want you to succeed."
But the last word on this one goes to General Petraeus - from his first message to the men and women of his new command:
Together with our Iraqi partners, we must defeat those who oppose the new Iraq. We cannot allow mass murderers to hold the initiative. We must strike them relentlessly. We and our Iraqi partners must set the terms of the struggle, not our enemies. And together we must prevail.
The way ahead will not be easy. There will be difficult times in the months to come. But hard is not hopeless, and we must remain steadfast in our effort to help improve security for the Iraqi people. I am confident that each of you will fight with skill and courage, and that you will remain loyal to your comrades-in-arms and to the values our nations hold so dear.
In the end, Iraqis will decide the outcome of this struggle. Our task is to help them gain the time they need to save their country. To do that, many of us will live and fight alongside them. Together, we will face down the terrorists, insurgents, and criminals who slaughter the innocent. Success will require discipline, fortitude, and initiative--qualities that you have in abundance.
As usual, you've done an excellent job here. Thanks for pointing out who is with us and who is against us once again. GH, how you manage to do these comparisons and still keep your day job is amazing, son. Keep up the good, and I mean really good, work.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at March 12, 2007 01:29 PM
A couple hours work spread over three days. Wish I had time to do it right.Posted by Greyhawk at March 13, 2007 01:04 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)