Gray Ending to Iraq?
Zakaria's has a pretty good understanding of events on the ground, that we are not winning, and therefore are loosing, the war against the chaotic poverty, the Sunni insurgency, and the sectarian violence that define the current state of Iraqi politics. He outlines the intra-communal "deal" (division of oil revenue, amnesty, distribution of jobs to all three communities, disbanding of Shia militias) that appears to be the consensus among US foreign policy experts on how to solve the current situation in Iraq. He also explains that this deal probably won't happen, because both the Sunni and Shia communities would rather fight it out than make peace (see the US/al-Maliki rift). Meanwhile Iraqi leaders denounce the presence of US soldiers in order to win favor with their communities, while quietly assuring America that they support our continued involvement. The main goal of his article, however, is to explain what the US needs to do, assuming that Iraq's leadership does not go through with "the deal." His suggestion:
Currently we have 144,000 troops deployed in Iraq at a cost of more than $90 billion a year. That is simply not sustainable in an open-ended way. I would propose a force structure of 60,000 men at a cost of $30 billion to $35 billion annually. . . The core national-security interests of the United States in Iraq are now threefold: first, to prevent Anbar province from being taken over by Qaeda-style jihadist groups that would use it as a base for global terrorism; second, to ensure that the Kurdish region retains its autonomy; third, to prevent or at least contain massive sectarian violence in Iraq, as both a humanitarian and a security issue.
Zakaria then proceeds to undermine the relationship between his proposed reduction in force and achieving the two remaining goals that most American's would support the fight against Al-Qaeda and protecting Kurdistan. First, he argues that most Sunni's and Shia hate Al-Qaeda and would probably clean out the minority of jihadists once they made a deal (or, as he implies, if the Shia win a civil war). Second, he claims that since the Kurds can provide their own internal security, a major presence of US troops may cause more problems than it solves.
Thus, the reader is left to assume that most of the 60,000 men would be, in essence, managing a civil war (training the Iraqi army, guarding bases/supply lines, conducting limited offensive operations, etc). This is deeply troubling, on the one hand a "butcher's bill" that would likely stand at $30 billion, likely 500-600 American dead, 5000-6000 seriously wounded, and an endless source of jihadi propaganda inflaming Muslims worldwide, every year, for a decade. On the other, what exactly would we accomplish, given that as Zakaria admits, the Al-Qaeda and Kurdistan issues could be managed at a far lower cost?
Zakaria never makes that clear what America would receive for that painful, politically unpopular sacrifice he proposes, except some ability to shape the new government (so we can have "our" favorite Shia thugs in office?, to keep our bases?, to deter the Iranians?. . .) and prevent regional chaos. How exactly does Zakaria propose to sell the American people on to paying the aforementioned "butchers bill" so that Iraqi refugees don't destabilize our dear friends in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia?
If this is the best case for staying in Iraq that the establishment crowd can come up with, then, if I were an Iraqi, I would be making my reservation on the last helicopter out of the Green Zone.
And now for somethingcompletelyy different, today's YouTube Clip: the Dreseden Dolls Girl Anachronism.