2006 April 24 Monday
US Weaker Against Iran Due To Iraq Debacle

After describing how Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gets funding from Iran for his ten thousand militiamen of the Mahdi Army Peter W. Galbraith points out that the US presence in Iraq has severely weakened Washington's ability to influence the actions of Iran's government.

For two months, the Coalition and the Mahdi Army fought pitched battles around Shiite Islam's holiest shrines. Iraq's senior Shiite clerics and politicians, all of whom saw al-Sadr as a threat, assured Bremer of their support and did nothing to help him. Iraq's Shiites were the prime beneficiary of Saddam Hussein's overthrow, but America's stock in Iraq had fallen so low that only Iraq's Kurds were prepared to stand with the United States against al-Sadr. By May 2004, al-Sadr's insurgency so disrupted US supply lines in Iraq that Bremer considered ordering food rationing for the thousands of Americans working in Baghdad's highly fortified Green Zone. A year after liberating Iraq, the world's only superpower was finding it difficult to feed the Americans in charge of the occupation.

Today, Moqtada al-Sadr controls one of the largest factions within the victorious United Iraq Alliance (UIA), the coalition of Shiite religious parties that won the December 2005 national elections. Nor is he the only member of the Alliance likely to side with Iran if war comes. SCIRI—the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq—is Iraq's largest political party. It was founded in Tehran in 1982, and its name gives an accurate idea of its politics. The Iranians also created, trained, and apparently still fund SCIRI's military wing, the Badr Corps, which has over 12,000 troops. Iraq's interior minister, Bayan Jabr, is the former head of the Badr Corps, whose members he has helped place throughout Iraq's national police. Dawa, the third major element in the UIA, also has close relations with Iran.

With the US Army vastly overextended in Iraq and Iran's friends in power in Baghdad, the Iranians apparently feel confident that the United States will take no action to stop them if they try to make a nuclear weapon. This is only one little-noticed consequence of America's failure in Iraq. We invaded Iraq to protect ourselves against nonexistent WMDs and to promote democracy. Democracy in Iraq brought to power Iran's allies, who are in a position to ignite an uprising against American troops that would make the current problems with the Sunni insurgency seem insignificant. Iran, in effect, holds the US hostage in Iraq, and as a consequence we have no good military or nonmilitary options in dealing with the problem of Iran's nuclear facilities. Unlike the 1979 hostage crisis, we did this to ourselves.

This is the irony of Bush and the Jewish neoconservatives who promoted his Iraq debacle: They made the US much weaker in dealing with Iran and yet Iran poses a much more serious threat to Israel than Saddam did.

Galbraith points out that arrogance is not a substitute for competence and sufficient resources to accomplish a task.

In his State of the Union address, President Bush told his Iraq critics, "Hindsight is not wisdom and second-guessing is not a strategy." His comments are understandable. Much of the Iraq fiasco can be directly attributed to Bush's shortcomings as a leader. Having decided to invade Iraq, he failed to make sure there was adequate planning for the postwar period. He never settled bitter policy disputes among his principal aides over how postwar Iraq would be governed; and he allowed competing elements of his administration to pursue diametrically opposed policies at nearly the same time. He used jobs in the Coalition Provisional Authority to reward political loyalists who lacked professional competence, regional expertise, language skills, and, in some cases, common sense. Most serious of all, he conducted his Iraq policy with an arrogance not matched by political will or military power.

These shortcomings have led directly to the current dilemmas of the US both in Iraq and with Iran. Unless the President and his team—abetted by some oversight from Congress— are capable of examining the causes of failure in Iraq, it is hard to believe he will be able to manage the far more serious problem with Iran.

I do not mind arrogance so much when it comes from people who are really good at whatever they are doing. But Bush's major talent is winning elections. His arrogance in foreign policy is completely unjustified. At this point he couldn't even win elections any more. (and see here for more on his approval rating)

Read Galbraith's excellent full article. It is a review of a couple of books about the Iraq war: George Packer's The Assassins' Gate and L. Paul Bremer III's My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope. The material relayed by Galbraith from those books provides insights what decisions were made by the Bushies and reveals a very damaging amateurishness on the part of Bremer, Bush, and other decision makers. Again, read the whole article.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 April 24 09:11 PM  Politics Grand Strategy


Comments
Stephen said at April 24, 2006 10:10 PM:

"My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope"

What a crap title, it sounds like one of those random collection of niceness-words that US politicians continually spew forth to feed the moronic proles. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population laps it up.

Why don't people think any more? Its not that hard.

John S Bolton said at April 24, 2006 11:14 PM:

On the other hand, US forces are in the right positions to be diverted into Iran, which was not the case prior to going into Iraq. It may be assumed that we can't let the Iraqis sink or swim on their own, but in order to cow the moslem, the best method might be to pull out of most of Iraq, leaving Iraqi factions and Iranians and their proxies to lay waste to each other's positions. If US troops are needed in Iran, the administration has the excuse they need to extricate and move on to greater glory elsewhere.
The greater the death ratio is between ours and theirs, the more powerful America looks. If hundreds of thousands of moslems die, but thousands of ours are killed, the moslem must cower.
Administration propaganda is aimed at what moderate left media would say here or in Europe perhaps.
In the rest of the world, or at least the third world, the question is whether America uses power to exact ten or one hundred fold revenge.

John S Bolton said at April 25, 2006 1:46 AM:

Another point to recall is that success is not an option in Iraq, since it would involve a world-historical transformation of Islam, which would be a contradiction-in-terms: Islam=non-Islam.

Mik said at April 25, 2006 12:18 PM:

"This is the irony of Bush and the Jewish neoconservatives who promoted his Iraq debacle: They made the US much weaker in dealing with Iran and yet Iran poses a much more serious threat to Israel than Saddam did."

It is well known that at the time Sharon and his cabinet thought that Iran is more dangerous and should be dealt with first. They let know Bushies about that but were not in position to make disagreement public, leaks excepted of course.

And so I'm totally confused. All powerful Jewish cabal's Israeli chapter cannot force stupid gentiles to attack a target that they want. All powerful Jewish cabal's US chapter, Wolfowitz, Kristol, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc., somehow disobey Likud orders and confuse an idiot gentile Bush to attack a wrong country.

While other all powerful Jewish agents in US, New York Times, Jewish left, Jewish Democrats, etc don't want any war whatsoever.

Given that all parties involved have a very high IQ and all under control of Likud (15% of votes in recent Israel elections) how come they are so poorly coordinated?

That I don't understand. All powerfull, monolitic Jewish cabal seems to have contradictory ideas. And cannot get some of them implemented dispite their total power over stupid gentiles in US.
We need an expert on Protocols of Zion to provide all encompassing integrated explanation.

No doubt one will be forthcoming in mere minutes.

Mik said at April 25, 2006 1:56 PM:

I was not impressed by the article. Galbraith collects all possible negatives about the situation and never tries to see if some of them can be turned into positives and what other, potentiall positive factors are out there.

Article fails as an objective analysis. As a tool for Iraq war and/or Bush critics it is probably ok.


"With the US Army vastly overextended in Iraq and Iran's friends in power in Baghdad".

Even if it is overextended, it is overextended in current configuration based on faulty and harmful assumption that Iraqis just like us and cab goaded into building unified democratic Iraq. I would be surprised if even an arrogant know-nothing like Bush still believe that.

A reasonable solution is to declare a victory, retreat to Kurdistan and watch MiddleEast from there. If Shias get too loud a little help to Sunnistan will go a long way. Sunny and Shia will be very busy killing each other after our withdraval to be a big problems for US in Kurdistan.

"Democracy in Iraq brought to power Iran's allies, who are in a position to ignite an uprising against American troops that would make the current problems with the Sunni insurgency seem insignificant."

Nonsense. First Shia must walk over Sunnis to be in position to help Iran. If US is in Kurdistan, crazy Mookie and his rag-tag "army" cannot reach there. In general insurgency creates problems only because we let them, first by trying to police non-kurdish Iraq and second by fighting with both hands behind our back.

Most losses by US are caused by IEDs along the roads. If we don't travel roads in Sunnistan and Shiastan, IEDs will not kill us.

The rest of the article that deals with future goes like this, positing some negatives and failing to do any open mind analysis. Good for Bush/Iraq war critics, useless as a strategic analysis.


SuperDuperDave said at April 26, 2006 8:31 AM:

"The greater the death ratio is between ours and theirs, the more powerful America looks. If hundreds of thousands of moslems die, but thousands of ours are killed, the moslem must cower."

Sorry John, but it doesn't work that way. We killed perhaps 40 times as many Vietnamese as Americans were killed during the Vietnam War (2,000,000 as opposed to our 50-60,000), yet at the end of the war it was the US standing in abject humiliation and defeat. When you have the world's most powerful military with a $500 billion budget and take on a relatively primitive bunch of insurgents with a decentralized command structure and no powerful external country supporting them (the way e.g. the Soviets provided so much direct financing and training for the NVA and VietCong), people expect you to kill a lot of the people in the backward country you've invaded. However, if you fail in all your military objectives, and this primitive enemy still manages to kill or wound tens of thousands of your soldiers while costing you trillions of dollars-- and ultimately expelling you-- it means that you lose, and in one of the most humiliating ways possible.

BTW Mik, I do agree with the part about arming the Sunnis. I've been scratching my head in confusion at why the US is still running so many military operations in Sunni Anbar province while leaving the Shiite militias, especially the Badr Brigade folks (who might as well be wearing an Iranian uniform) almost totally unscathed. It doesn't make one damn bit of sense, since the big threat in the region is Iran and if anything we should be doing everything we can to support Iran's opponents, especially in Iraq. That means boosting the Sunni Arabs who are most hostile to Iran and Iran's Shiite militia allies in Baghdad and other big cities, while instead focusing our military might and our major operations against the Shiite militias. That would be a much more sensible policy.


Post a comment
Comments:
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
URL:
Remember info?

      
 
Web parapundit.com
Go Read More Posts On ParaPundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright ©