Tuesday, April 07, 2009

"This is what defeat looks like."

Military pundit David Silbey thinks Iraq is not looking so good:
Counterinsurgency operations succeed when they can co-opt the nationalism of the country in which the insurgency is being fought. But they have to co-opt the entirety (or as as near as makes no difference) of that nationalism, not just the attractive parts. In Iraq, that means Sunni as well as Shi’ite nationalism needs to be brought in out of the cold.

Having said this, it’s not clear that the Americans can do anything useful any more. Long-term, the Sunnis and Shi’ites have to figure out a way to live with each other. Any kind of realistic solution has to come from them. Unfortunately, a “realistic” solution might include an all-out civil war which ends with one side or the other emerging on top. Winning the counterinsurgency doesn’t stop Iraq’s ethnic, cultural, or political divisions; it only creates the opportunity to resolve them.
That lines up Silbey on the Tom Ricks side of the fence, it seems.

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