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Two Cheers for the Iraqi Civil War and Its Political Turmoil and Chaos
A civil war is, of course, a catastrophe for the Iraqi people, but not for the United States — although there are those who will try to hold America and George Bush responsible for it. They will be wrong, just as Colin Powell was wrong when he tried to reduce American foreign policy to Pottery Barn etiquette when he uttered his famously simplistic and inappropriate warning, “If you break it [Iraq], you’ve bought it.” Nothing of the sort is true nor has it ever been true throughout history. That was Powell’s middle class Bronx morality, similar to the sense of honor and fair play that almost cost us World War II when fighting a foe that doesn’t know or care about the rules of cricket. In wars past, the winners killed the men, raped the women, took the children for slaves, took anything that wasn’t nailed down, and burned down the rest.
Those who are and will be engaged in civil war are the extremists who are the enemies of peace in Iraq and the enemies of the United States everywhere. Arab hearts and minds, Shia and Sunni, it seems, are different from Americans, they are in love with death and shooting AK-47s. The Sunnis and the Shias have been feuding with each other over the same thing now since 632 A.D. — whether Ali, Mohammed’s son-in-law, should have succeeded him as leader of Islam. In the short run nothing will change, they will go on killing each other because they love their tribalism and tribal values. Those who continue to fight each other are our enemies too — extremists, jihadists, and fundamentalists. Those Iraqi moderates who hate and fear violence have already left war-torn Iraq for neighboring countries and safer provinces and will continue to do so.
The situation as it stands today — FUBAR to the unimaginative — can be a unique opportunity for the pursuit of America’s long-term interests. During the chaos that emerges during a civil war there is no better place for a small American force to be — an opportunity that rarely comes along. We can accomplish many Special Operations that are in the interests of America, under cover of the chaos. We can recruit intelligence agents during this time from amongst the warring factions to provide invaluable intelligence with little or no cost. We can identify targets of opportunity with the help of these bought and paid for informants.
This is the way out of the Iraq mess without losing another casualty. Publicly we remain strictly neutral, except for our humanitarian assistance in helping refugees who need it. Privately, we play the great game of Middle-Eastern strategy and covert exploitation. We do whatever has to be done to serve the interests of America in secret and deny publicly any culpability for anything.
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” So goes an old Arab proverb. What could be more satisfying than knowing that one of our enemies is killing another of our enemies without our incurring any risk at all. And that this may be happening thousands of times a day.
The first step is publicly to acknowledge the de facto civil war and that the United States cannot fulfill any of its obligations until the different factions agree to peace so that rebuilding Iraq can continue. After such an acknowledgement we have to declare publicly that we stand as a neutral power and will undertake only humanitarian activities — medical supplies, food, and transport of refugees to distant camps that provide safety for either sect.
Under cover of these humanitarian activities performed by a force of twenty or twenty-five thousand non-combatant troops, a well-organized military intelligence program can be created that would include recruitment of spies from all factions, acquisition of human intelligence about our enemies and their operations, and the identification of targets of opportunity.
Instead of Cutting and Running, or Surging, How About Redeployment?
“…but I tell you, my lord, out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety…”
In addition to exploiting the opportunities of the civil war there is one more important strategic aim that must be accomplished. Contrary to cutting and running we must carry out a plan of redeployment. A large component of our present force should be redeployed to a new and permanent base to be built in Northern Iraq — non-Arabic Kurdistan. There we will be welcomed by the cooperative, pro-American Kurds, and out of the way of harassment by IEDs, RPGs, and light artillery from hostile Arabs. Kurdistan is already a mostly autonomous country and desires to become completely independent of central and southern Iraq.
We need a long-term base there much like the ones we have had in Korea and Germany for more than fifty years. What are the advantages of such an arrangement? For the Kurds it will bring dollars and employment. It will also bring political stability and reassurance — about their hostile neighbors, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.
In fact, an American base will tend to stabilize the Middle East as well as put pressure on America’s Middle-Eastern enemies, Syria, Iran, and Saudi extremists.
The strategic purpose of such a base should be as a center for the acquisition of and recruitment of human and signal intelligence and agents. And for the location of a large Special Operations cadre to do covert operations in and around the Middle East against our enemies and those who support our enemies
Such a permanent base in the region will put constant pressure on antagonistic governments. After all, we have demonstrated that an Arab country — a country in which political factions love death more than victory — is highly vulnerable to America’s newest weapon — political ineptitude. We have demonstrated unequivocally that we can reduce a country to impotence and chaos without dropping a single nuclear bomb.
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