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Signs of independence

There have been obvious signs over the last few days that the Iraqi government intends to do more of its own heavy lifting from now on. Assets appear to have begun being shuffled already.

I’m doubtful that my unit or I will be affected, but it’s fairly clear that the Iraqi government is quite interested in Iraqis taking care of their own problems. This is as it should be. While the United States and its allies have clear ideas about what Iraq should become, Iraqis are ultimately going to be the ones who decide what Iraq will evolve or devolve into.

Iraq isn’t really Iraq yet. Rather, it’s Shia, Sunni and Kurd, as it has been for a long swath of history. Under Saddam, Iraq was only held together by brutal force, one sociopath’s will and his ability to inflict raw fear. Whether Iraq will coalesce or splinter remains to be seen. Many Iraqis are staking their lives on the eventual outcome here. It seems clear to me from the elections held in December that most Iraqis want to solve debates a new way, through discussion and political processes rather than the use of force.

I have heard the first messages from the new Prime Minister about disbanding militias. What’s really critical is quelling the insurgency because the militias, in part, are a response to the lack of security for Iraq’s citizens. Integrating the militias into the military and police forces may be a partial solution, but only if the police and military are led by nationalists who can do two things – a) survive and b) control their units.
The United States, Britain and other members of the coalition will increasingly have to stand by on the sidelines as the Iraqis discover their national identity and try to forge a nation that respects life and affords citizens an existence of dignity and choices. It is going to take generations.

In the meantime, Iraqis will increasingly be going it alone.

“Certainly at the end of this year there would be a sizeable gross reduction of troops,” he said. “In the next couple of years we would hope that most of the coalition forces will go back home safely.”

Comments

kitanis
Reply

Would NOT be surprised if the US has a pull-out in the works.

The USAF alone is facing Massive cutts. Talk about retiring aircraft, taking out an additional 60,000+ troops in the next fisal year, etc.

Maybe the higher ups in Washington has come to the realization that there must be a exit strategy soon… and not stay with the way things are.

Trevor
Reply

I think that the pressure now is coming more from the Iraqis than from the American public, or from budget concerns.

Iraq wants to be sovereign, although that will have to be a gradual process…if you look at the U.S. embassy under construction here in the International Zone, you realize that the plan is to stay a LONG, LONG time. It’s a $500 million+ megacomplex under construction.

datarat
Reply

What I think most people fail to grasp is that even a “pull out” will not mean a complete evacuation of troops.

Much like Germany and Japan at the end of WWII, there will be a sustained military presence, although daily patrols will come to a stop.

This is not a bad thing by any means. Post-occupation Iraq will probably be far less restrictive than Saudi Arabia. The US will negotiate a deal for a permanent military base, and a garrison will be stationed there.

This is good for 2 primary reasons. One, it gives us an advanced military base for action in the region and 2, it provides extended contact between American forces and Iraqis.

The second is actually the more important of the two. Just as Roman armies on the march attracted camp followers, Iraqi’s will build businessess that cater to base personell. Money will flow into the surrounding community and cultural cross pollination will ensue.

This is not to say that the Iraqi merchants and American servicemen will be fast friends. Just like in military bases that the US has all over the world there will be a certain amount of resentment. But that resentment will be the tempered sort that one has when living next door to a disliked neighbor. You deal with him, but you don’t try to kill him because you have to live here, too.

So when they talk about a withdrawal, most people really need to understand that what’s meant is a decrease. All those troops have to go somewhere because they’re not all reservists and National Guard. And as I understand it, there are no real plans to ramp the European bases back up to full time.

devildog6771
Reply

Great post. All the other comments are good too. However, how do you have an exit strategy in a war. I really can’t comprehend why people keep trying to look at this all like we went to Iraq to handle an isolated situation that required military support. Does anyone read the goals that both bin Laden and Zarqawi have in their openly declared war?

Trevor
Reply

There is no exit strategy. It’s a reduction strategy. A long term presence should be expected, just not at the current levels. As datarat says, think of Korea, Germany, Japan. Iraq is not those places but you can draw parallels.

Papa Ray
Reply

Since there are already two megabases (small fortified American cities) built and three more being built at this time, I doubt that Americans and American Troops will be leaving them to be used by the Iraqis.

Papa Ray

Al
Reply

Not much left to say after those other guys, particularly datarat, said their piece. About the best we could expect is that our garrisons in Iraq would draw down to the current size of our presence in Germany and that our European presence would be dramatically reduced.

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