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Tup: What an interesting summary of the Iraq conflict from Strategic Forcasting.

Here is the gist of the analyis:

We have lived with the Iraq war for more than five years. It was our view in early 2002 that a U.S. invasion of Iraq was inevitable. We did not believe the invasion had anything to do with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) â€" which with others we believed were under development in Iraq. The motivation for the war, as we wrote, had to do with forcing Saudi Arabia to become more cooperative in the fight against al Qaeda by demonstrating that the United States actually was prepared to go to extreme measures. The United States invaded to change the psychology of the region, which had a low regard for American power. It also invaded to occupy the most strategic country in the Middle East, one that bordered seven other key countries.

Our view was that the Bush administration would go to war in Iraq not because it saw it as a great idea, but because its options were to go on the defensive against al Qaeda and wait for the next attack or take the best of a bad lot of offensive actions. The second option consisted of trying to create what we called the “coalition of the coerced,� Islamic countries prepared to cooperate in the covert war against al Qaeda. Fighting in Afghanistan was merely a holding action that alone would solve nothing. So lacking good options, the administration chose the best of a bad lot.

The administration certainly lied about its reasons for going into Iraq. But then FDR certainly lied about planning for involvement in World War II, John Kennedy lied about whether he had traded missiles in Turkey for missiles in Cuba and so on. Leaders cannot conduct foreign policy without deception, and frequently the people they deceive are their own publics. This is simply the way things are.

We believed at the time of the invasion that it might prove to be much more difficult and dangerous than proponents expected. Our concern was not about a guerrilla war. Instead, it was about how Saddam Hussein would make a stand in Baghdad, a city of 5 million, forcing the United States into a Stalingrad-style urban meat grinder. That didn’t happen. We underestimated Iraqi thinking. Knowing they could not fight a conventional war against the Americans, they opted instead to decline conventional combat and move to guerrilla warfare instead. We did not expect that.

A Bigger Challenge Than Expected

That this was planned is obvious to us. On April 13, 2003, we noted what appeared to be an organized resistance group carrying out bombings. Organizing such attacks so quickly indicated to us that the operations were planned. Explosives and weapons had been hidden, command and control established, attacks and publicity coordinated. These things don’t just happen. Soon after the war, we recognized that the Sunnis in fact had planned a protracted war â€" just not a conventional one.

Our focus then turned to Washington. Washington had come into the war with a clear expectation that the destruction of the Iraqi army would give the United States a clean slate on which to redraw Iraqi society. Before the war was fought, comparisons were being drawn with the occupation of Japan. The beginnings of the guerrilla operation did not fit into these expectations, so U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the guerrillas as merely the remnants of the Iraqi army â€" criminals and “dead-endersâ€? â€" in their last throes. We noted the gap between Washington’s perception of Iraq and what we thought was actually going on.

A perfect storm arose in this gulf. First, no WMD were found. We were as surprised by this as anybody. But for us, this was an intellectual exercise; for the administration, it meant the justification for the war â€" albeit not the real motive â€" was very publicly negated. Then, resistance in Iraq to the United States increased after the U.S. president declared final victory. And finally, attempts at redrawing Iraqi society as a symbol of American power in the Islamic world came apart, a combination of the guerrilla war and lack of preparation plus purging the Baathists. In sum, reshaping a society proved more daunting than expected just as the administration’s credibility cracked over the WMD issue.

A More Complex Game

By 2004, the United States had entered a new phase. Rather than simply allowing the Shia to create a national government, the United States began playing a complex and not always clear game of trying to bring the Sunnis into the political process while simultaneously waging war against them. The Iranians used their influence among the Shia to further destabilize the U.S. position. Having encouraged the United States to depose its enemy, Saddam Hussein, Tehran now wanted Washington to leave and allow Iran to dominate Iraq.

The United States couldn’t leave Iraq but had no strategy for staying. Stratfor’s view from 2004 was that the military option in Iraq had failed. The United States did not have the force to impose its will on the various parties in Iraq. The only solution was a political accommodation with Iran. We noted a range of conversations with Iran, but also noted that the Iranians were not convinced that they had to deal with the Americans. Given the military circumstance, the Americans would leave anyway and Iran would inherit Iraq.

Stratfor became more and more pessimistic about the American position in 2006, believing that no military solution was possible, and that a political solution â€" particularly following the Democratic victory in 2006 congressional elections â€" would further convince the Iranians to be intransigent. The deal that we had seen emerging over the summer of 2006 after the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, was collapsing.
The Surge

We were taken by surprise by U.S. President George W. Bush’s response to the elections. Rather than beginning a withdrawal, he initiated the surge. While the number of troops committed to Iraq was relatively small, and its military impact minimal, the psychological shock was enormous. The Iranian assumption about the withdrawal of U.S. forces collapsed, forcing Tehran to reconsider its position. An essential part of the surge â€" not fully visible at the beginning â€" was that it was more a political plan than a military one. While increased operations took place, the Americans reached out to the Sunni leadership, splitting them off from foreign jihadists and strengthening them against the Shia.

Coupled with increasingly bellicose threats against Iran, this created a sense of increasing concern in Tehran. The Iranians responded by taking Muqtada al-Sadr to Iran and fragmenting his army. This led to a dramatic decline in the civil war between Shia and Sunni and in turn led to the current decline in violence.

The war â€" or at least Stratfor’s view of it â€" thus went through four phases:

* Winter 2002-March 2003: The period that began with the run-up to invasion, in which the administration chose the best of a bad set of choices and then became overly optimistic about the war’s outcome.

* April 2003-Summer 2003: The period in which the insurgency developed and the administration failed to respond.

* Fall 2003-late 2006: The period in which the United States fought a multisided war with insufficient forces and a parallel political process that didn’t match the reality on the ground.

* Late 2006 to the present: The period known as the surge, in which military operations and political processes were aligned, leading to a working alliance with the Sunnis and the fragmentation of the Shia. This period included the Iranians restraining their Shiite supporters and the United States removing the threat of war against Iran through the National Intelligence Estimate.

The key moment in the war occurred between May 2003 and July 2003. This consisted of the U.S. failure to recognize that an insurgency in the Sunni community had begun and its delay in developing a rapid and effective response, creating the third phase â€" namely, the long, grueling period in which combat operations were launched, casualties were incurred and imposed, but the ability to move toward a resolution was completely absent. It is unclear whether a more prompt response by the Bush administration during the second period could have avoided the third period, but the second period certainly was the only point during which the war could have been brought under control.

The operation carried out under Gen. David Petraeus, combining military and political processes, has been a surprise, at least to us. Meanwhile, the U.S. rapprochement with the Sunnis that began quietly in Anbar province spiraled into something far more effective than we had imagined. It has been much more successful than we had imagined in part because we did not believe Washington was prepared for such a systematic and complex operation that was primarily political in nature. It is also unclear if the operation will succeed. Its future still depends on the actions of the Iraqi Shia, and these actions in turn depend on Iran.

The Endgame

We have been focused on the U.S.-Iranian talks for quite awhile. We continue to believe this is a critical piece in any endgame. The United States is now providing an alternative scenario designed to be utterly frightening to the Iranians. They are arming and training the Iranians’ mortal enemies: the Sunnis who led the war against Iran from 1980 to 1988. That rearming is getting very serious indeed. Sunni units outside the aegis of the Iraqi military are now some of the most heavily armed Iraqis in Anbar, thanks to the Sunni relationship with U.S. forces there. It should be remembered that the Sunnis ruled Iraq because the Iraqi Shia were fragmented, fighting among themselves and therefore weak. That underlying reality remains true. A cohesive Sunni community armed and backed by the Americans will be a formidable force. That threat is the best way to bring the Iranians to the table.

The irony is that the war is now focused on empowering the very people the war was fought against: the Iraqi Sunnis. In a sense, it is at least a partial return to the status quo ante bellum. In that sense, one could argue the war was a massive mistake. At the same time, we constantly return to this question: We know what everyone would not have done in 2003; we are curious about what everyone would have done then. Afghanistan was an illusory option. The real choices were to try to block al Qaeda defensively or to coerce Islamic intelligence services to provide the United States with needed intelligence. By appearing to be a dangerous and uncontrolled power rampaging in the most strategic country in the region, the United States reshaped the political decisions countries like Saudi Arabia were making.

This all came at a price that few of us would have imagined five years ago. Cheney is saying it was worth it. Clinton is saying it was not. Stratfor’s view is that what happened had to happen given the lack of choices. But Rumsfeld’s unwillingness to recognize that a guerrilla war had broken out and provide more and appropriate forces to wage that war did not have to happen. There alone we think history might have changed. Perhaps.
:cool:
 

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My how the Right on this site have changed their view of Iraq.

I have always said that jaw jaw would succeed and Pet and his men have proved this.

I have also said that everything that went wrong would be blamed on Rummy.

As well as arming the Sunnis the Americans are now paying the same men who were shooting at them a few months ago. What will happen once the money stops flowing from America????

You of the Right thought that the only way to subdue them was thro a bullet ( yup you did ), now you are weeping into your soup because your gov are paying off the bad guys. Glass them did not work as it meant there was a lot of body bags being bought home. Now they are being paid off there is less body bags being bought home.

Vast areas in Baghdad are sectioned off by high concrete blocks and the only way into these areas are thro a few openings in the blocks. Who is marshalling these openings. Why the Sunnis milita, surprise surprise.

I am still backing this surge and it has nothing to do with the politicans. Your army thought up the plan and have been carrying it out and now the politicans want to make out it was all their idea. What gets up my craw is that Dick is over there taking the praise. Nothing against McCain being there as it is part of his political end game. Since the White House has taken a back seat and left it to the military things have improved over there.

Anybody disagree with my view???????????????
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, your view as usual is a little nutty and a tad hard to figure out, "weeping in our soup"? Is that the same as crying in ones beer? And who or what is jaw jaw?
Sometimes I think Skorzeny speaks better British or Old English then you do SJ and he lives over here.

I find the assessment very interesting for several reasons, one of which is the laying out of all the options and plans along with the geo political chess game that has been and is being played between the US and Iran. These types of things are never reported or talked about in any of the media INCLUDING the BBC as I fear that the vast majority of the reporters cannot comprehend this type of thinking and strategizing.

As for the 'weeping in our soup" on the right, I haven't seen anyone weeping but rather a lot of people are cautiously optimistic about Iraq, except for anyone running for Pres on the Left. They don't care and Hillary has now moved to the left of Obama on this issue.

I particularly found the paragraphs on Iran's worrying about armed Sunnis interesting and how Iran calculated that the Pres would be done after the Dems did so well in the last election. Instead he increased the troops and the pressure on them, hmmm, not so dumb after all I guess huh? As for the money running out, don't worry about that.

As for Dick taking credit, who really cares and no matter what he does you guys on the left would say he was wrong if he told you the sky was blue. The guy who should be taking the credit is McCain as he is one of the few that has called this thing pretty much right from the start and was right out front in backing the surge when most were ready to throw in the towel.

In the end, the left spent several months to a year clammering and screaming for a new strategy in Iraq and it looks like one was constantly evolving the whole time right under their noses, go figure.

Oh and one more thing, remember all the whining about Pres Bush's refusals to admit any mistakes a couple of years ago? Well when is someone going to rudely accuse Harry Reid of making a mistake when he pronounced this war lost?
 

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Jaw Jaw is talk talk you use your jaw when you talk. Yup same as crying in your beer.

The surge plan was not thought up by the President or any of his crew. It was a military plan and he just backed it. Hell does Dick think the sky is blue. :lol:

This old Leftie has always backed the surge plan and yes McCain has also done it. But he is a military man and could see the benefits of such a plan. Most of the politicans are not miliary and so have no idea what the military are talking about. They only see it as 'Can I win the next election if I back this idea' no matter which side of the fence they sit on.

You've got to admit that the Right on this site are crying in their soup now that the Sunnis are being armed by your gov when they have said that the only Sunni was a dead one.
 

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You've got to admit that the Right on this site are crying in their soup now that the Sunnis are being armed by your gov when they have said that the only Sunni was a dead one.
Show me that anyone here (on the right) has complained that we're arming the Sunni's, because I've not seen a single comment to that affect.

I think you're just grasping at straws because your socialist word view has again been proven wrong. I also backed the surge, even when good old Jabba was posting stupidity from Ollie North, and I've always held the belief that Rummy was the true idiot, letting his stubborness rule his decision making process.

I've also claimed for a very long time that we (the public) had no idea what the TRUTH was about this war. I don't know how accurate Stratfor's suppositions are, but I'd say it's damned close to reality.
 

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They don't have to write it, their silence on the subject speaks volumes.

FS I have never regarded you as being on the hard right.

You are spot on about Rummy and the surge.

The Right have been very quite about what is happening in Iraq, they'd rather talk about little girls and race.
 

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lol You are droll Sir John. I think the right is quite pleased with the progress in Iraq, even tho there is plenty of room for improvement.
btw Are you Ok? Sometimes your posts give the impression that you're having an acute attack of anoxia. I know you do not live 10,000+ feet above sea level even tho it seems that way sometimes. CO2 is the bodies breathing mechanism trigger. You need to get a bit more CO2 in your mix. Reduce the Helium level a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The Right have been very quite about what is happening in Iraq, they'd rather talk about little girls and race.
Actually its the lefties that have the big problem of now being wrong when it comes to Iraq. Virtually every Democrat except for Lieberman was and still is ready to pull the plug. They don't talk about it anymore in the context of win or lose because they decided incorrectly that the war was already lost and the surge was a waste of time, "blood and treasure", to use a newly popular term. Now since they cannot defend their earlier positions the debate has morphed into the monetary cost of the war. The Dems don't really talk about Iraq at all except to see who can promise to get out of Iraq the quickest. The only time it comes up is to lead into their domestic spending agendas, ie, we could provide lots of health care and benefits if only we weren't paying for the Iraq war, or, the economy wouldn't be where it is if we weren't paying for the Iraq war. The Dems have very quietly shifted the talk away from the war and foreign policy to their bread and butter which is how to raise taxes and what to spend it on.

As a conservative I am cautiously optimistic about Iraq and the progress made there, and if arming the Sunnis to tamp down Al Queda and keep Iran at bay is needed then so be it. Anytime you want to talk about Iraq SJ, I am willing but I get tired of the talking points and key phrases like "blood and treasure" being thrown around. That is why I enjoy reading the types of articles like these Stratfor assessments. They are devoid of the left/right sniping, sound bites, and partisanship and they are clear and concise as to what was done and why. Also I learn something almost every time I read one.
 

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DBAppraiser said:
Virtually every Democrat except for Lieberman was and still is ready to pull the plug. They don't talk about it anymore in the context of win or lose because they decided incorrectly that the war was already lost and the surge was a waste of time.
 
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