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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The U.S. Must Intensify Our Efforts After Zarqawi's Death

There is so much being said since last Friday about the death of Zarqawi, and many people saying that we should now leave Iraq. The death of this monster can be a turning point for Iraq, and the U.S. should double our efforts both in diplomacy and with military force.

First, there is the obvious fact that the we are safer with a democratic Iraq than without. The left screams about evidence, about how nothing has been proven, about how we have to wait for something to happen because preemptive measures are wrong. Well, the common sense approach is that when you know a dog is rabid, you put him down before he bites someone, not after.

Secondly, and the major reason for intensifying our efforts, there is the strategic outlook. Iran has been a major player in the insurgency. If not for Iran, then the insurgency would not have the bite that it has. Iran wants a Shia dominated country. Iran wants the oil fields in southern Iraq, around Basra. Iran wants to exert control over Iraq, and cannot do that with a democratic system. The best situation that the Iranians can hope for is a divided Iraq, one with a southern controlled Shia state.

Of course, this is unacceptable to the Saudis, who would face a constant threat from an Iranian backed Shia state, and the only option for them would be an intrusive U.S. military presence in Saudi. This is also unacceptable to the Saudis. Therefore, it is in their best interest for a democracy to take hold.

Three things happened at the time of Zarqawi's death. One, hours after it happened Iraq named three significant ministerial posts. Prior to this, there was no indication that this decision had been made. Two, Iran softened on talks with the U.S. Three, there were 17 other raids the night of Zarqawi's death. The public release is that they resulted from intelligence found in the safehouse of Zarqawi. Now, that might be possible, but it is highly doubtful, despite the efficiency and structure of our military, that within hours there was an analysis of information, warning orders issued, and operations implemented.

These three things could indicate that the intelligence that led to Zarqawi didn't come from a single intelligence operation, but from a political deal, and that we will see the Shia make efforts to internally decrease the insurgency. If this happened, they have realized the fact that has existed for months now, and that it that the current political situation is the best that they can hope for, and the best tactics for them is to participate in the government that is forming.

Regardless of the outcome, his death is a positive thing. However, the next few months will tell how much of a turning point it is.

2 Posts From Readers:

TM said...

Hello Robert.

Good post. Here are a couple of my thoughts on it, for what ever they are worth.

First, there is the obvious fact that the we are safer with a democratic Iraq than without.

I don't know about that first sentence. George Bush, for all his flaws, has a vision for transforming the Middle East. Sometimes I am in awe of it. It is so bold and visionary. Truly, he is leading and making things happen. To attempt to re-make the Muslim Middle East from a zone of repression and tyranny, to a place where democracy and freedom can begin to bloom. Wow.

But sometimes when I'm feeling more cynical, I start to wonder about that whole democracy in the Middle East. When the Palestinians elect Hamas, and polls show that the majority of Palestinians aren't in favor of peace with Israel, when polls show that 40% of Moroccan Muslims in the Netherlands don't believe in democracy or western values, when you hear about creeping sharia law in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places, sometimes I suspect that there may not be any way to bring our values of freedom to the Arab and Muslim world.

Maybe the best we can do is play the old game of Iran vs. Iraq and try to turn their aggression inward instead of outward. And maybe that is the best thing to do with the whole Muslim world, to try to turn the aggression and jihad inward, instead of letting it push outward. Like I said, sometimes I get cynical.

Well, the common sense approach is that when you know a dog is rabid, you put him down before he bites someone, not after.

No arguments there. Comparing Sadamm to a rabid dog seems to be right on the money.

Iran wants to exert control over Iraq, and cannot do that with a democratic system.

With all due respect, I really don't agree with this. Iran is going to continue to try to influence Iraq, no matter what type of government is in charge. But it seems like Iran will have a much easier time influencing a democracy, where you can attempt to interfere and influence local, regional, and even national elected officials. Look at what happens here in the U.S. Special interests lobby. Actually, when Saddam was in charge that is when Iran probably had the least influence on Iraq.

Iran wants a Shia dominated country. Iran wants the oil fields in southern Iraq, around Basra. Iran wants to exert control over Iraq

Absolutely. They sure do. I'm not saying we shouldn't have gotten rid of Saddam. Not at all. But one unavoidable consequence of that is that it gives Iran more room to move in the Middle East.

Now if I start feeling all optimistic, sometimes I think that maybe the best way to help encourage pro-democracy pro western elements in Iran is to have a democratic Iraq right next to it. But just 'cause I hope this happens, doesn't mean I'm gonna get what I want.

Therefore, it is in their [Saudi Arabia's] best interest for a democracy to take hold.

Hmmm. Seeing as how they are one of the most despotic regimes on the planet, that has spent a lot of time trying to thwart (without actually doing it openly) our encouragement of democracy in Saudi Arabia, I am not too sure they want a thriving, healthy Democratic Iraq next to them. If a democratic Iraq succeeds, it may just give some ideas to some of their own pro-democracy elements, and I don't think the ruling Saudi family really wants that. Just my gut feeling.

Of course, on the other hand, as a Sunni nation, with a minority of Shiite’s (who just happen to be living mostly around the oil fields), Saudi Arabia probably really doesn't want to see a growing Shiite power anywhere near it's border.

Now, that might be possible, but it is highly doubtful, despite the efficiency and structure of our military, that within hours there was an analysis of information, warning orders issued, and operations implemented.

For the regular military, yeah, I'd agree. But the Task Force 145 guys have been putting a lot of effort into cutting down their decision cycle to be as quick as possible. Personally, I think it is possible. They probably had suspicions about some of the 17 areas, and decided to hit as soon as they confirmed Zarqawi was dead, and did a real quick analysis of anything they found at the site that may have helped them tighten up their shot group. Just my opinion.

Of course, your speculation that "the intelligence that led to Zarqawi didn't come from a single intelligence operation, but from a political deal," is intriguing. That could very well be the case.

Interesting post. I especially am intrigued by your idea that the Shiite government forces may have cut a deal with the Sunni's that said, "No posts for you until you give up Zarqawi."

Very respectfully,

TM

Robert said...

Cynicism is sometimes reality writ large. There will never be American style democracy in the region. i think that is one reason American's are so short sighted about the whole affair. We expect there to be elections just because someone said there should be.

When I mentioned Iraq controlling a Shia run state v. a democracy, I was speaking from a geopolitical sense, not about influence. if you look at a map, the oil feilds are in the south. This is the portion of Iraq that lies between Saudi, Iraq, and Iran. A shis government, sponsored by Iran would lead to Iran controlling the Iraqi Shia, and give the access to the oil. It presents a strategic situation that Iran would drool over and could not afford to ignire. Of course there would be influence. The Shia government in Iraq would exert the same religious tenor that has been done for years.

Saudi may not want a democracy, but they have to realize that their world is changing. Because of the influence of the US, and what we have done in Iraq, there are cultural and government changes happening in Saudi as well. The Saudis cannnot protect themselves from a girl scout troop, and they don't want an unending US presence on their border. They have no option but to accept that some form of democracy will be in place in Iraq.

As for the TF 145 operation, I concede that it is possible. I just don't think it is likely. I think that you are right, they had info and waited until he was dead to strike. The presupposes that they already knew the mission, they were just timing it. The information (specualtion and amatuer analysis coming) might have come from the same sources inside either al-Qaeda or the Sunnis themselves, as part of a political gambit.

We will see if I might be right. of course, attacks will continue and may intensify over the coming days. I think that there was political calculations, and that the government will make substantive and rapid progress now. If this happens, and the insurgency loses some of its kick, then we will know what happened. A single intel operation on the part of the US would not give up this much info - And it won't have long lasting effects.

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