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Morgan

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: March 22, 2008, 02:20:57 AM

Wow. Glad to see something out of SF that isn't anti-American.  Didn't SF want to seceed from the nation not too long ago, and prevented an American Naval ship to dock in its harbor.  There's hope for California after-all.

superbuc

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#1 : March 21, 2008, 07:07:18 PM


Amazing...this appears in the SF Chronicle! 

Basically says:

Surge worked, keep it up and get the next step right.  Next step = getting the political process right via a "diplomatic surge". 

Our candidates need a more clear plan to: 1) incentivize the Iraqis to speed up the process to move towards a real government (threats don't count) , and 2) become supportive (the US), rather than a) withdrawing too quickly creating a power vaccuum or remaining as a protector too long.  The democrats are stuck on drawing down;  McCain is stuck on protection/security.  There's a happy medium in there somewhere that goes WITH the second part... creating a more substantial Iraqi government and military that can stand on their own.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Surge sucess will fade unless we get the politics right in Iraq

Larry Diamond

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five years after the launch of a war in Iraq that never found weapons of mass destruction and has not yet established democracy either, there are reasons to believe that a corner has been turned. The military "surge," which added about 30,000 U.S. troops, has had a significant, positive impact.

Although it has been creeping back up again recently, violence has declined sharply. Since the surge took hold in mid-2007, the average daily death toll of Iraqis has dropped from over 100 per day to less than 20. Almost 500 Iraqis dying violently per month is still horrific, but the improvement is palpable, and evident in many other statistics.

Iraqi police and military deaths are also way down, from a peak of 300 in April 2007 to 110 last month. Multiple fatality bombings have fallen by more than two-thirds since their peak of 69 at the end of 2006. American troop fatalities have also dropped sharply, from more than 100 per month in late 2006 and early 2007 to under 40 per month in the last few months.

The improved security situation in Iraq owes to many factors. In addition to the surge in U.S. forces, there has been a large increase in Iraqi forces: 100,000 more army and police, and about 80,000 "concerned local citizens" - local community militias that have been armed and paid by the United States to turn against al Qaeda and other violent forces.

No less important, American military strategy changed. After years of denial and failure, the U.S. military finally turned to classic counterinsurgency tactics of taking and holding control of towns and neighborhoods while working earnestly to win "hearts and minds" on the ground.

All of this came at a propitious moment. Sunni Arab communities were fed up with the brutal, thuggish domination of al Qaeda in Iraq; with the provision of arms, money and assurances, they turned again al Qaeda and expelled it from most Sunni communities where it had taken root. While still incomplete, this has been the single biggest achievement of the surge, with positive huge implications for Iraqi and U.S. security. In the Shiite communities, the militant cleric Muqtada al-Sadr pulled back from military conflict and authorized his "Mahdi Army" to cease fire.

The new conventional wisdom is that Iraq is finally stabilizing and "victory" is now foreseeable. But just as the pessimists were wrong a year ago to think that the situation was hopeless, so the optimists now overlook a number of tenacious obstacles to stabilizing Iraq that will blow up in our faces again if they are not urgently addressed.

As the American commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has repeatedly acknowledged, military progress has not been matched by political progress in Baghdad. We are now nearly two years past the date when the Iraqi constitution was supposed to have been amended to resolve such key divisive issues as control and distribution of the oil revenue, the federal structure of the country, and the structure of executive power at the center. Iraq's warring groups have yet to agree on the type of government, and how wealth and power will be shared. Until such an agreement is forged, political stability cannot be more than temporary and superficial.

Iraq's different factions are in a political holding pattern. The established Shiite parties do not want to give up their control of the central government, and of the provincial governments in the south. The two Kurdish parties are determined to see their Kurdistan region absorb the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, and insist that a referendum to authorize this move forward soon.

The Sunnis feel deeply aggrieved over the existing constitution. A weak central government is unable to accomplish much, other than facilitating the looting of the country's huge surge in oil revenue by the parties in control. Many provincial governments are controlled by deeply corrupt and oppressive leaders, and some of them in the south have welcomed an increase in Iranian influence. Most of these governments have not delivered. People want change, through provincial elections that were supposed to have come by the end of last year but keep being postponed. Now, when American forces are at their peak and violence has declined, is the time to hold them.

This situation may seem promising, but it is unsustainable. Neither party has a viable answer. President Bush and his prospective successor, John McCain, seem prepared to stay indefinitely, demanding nothing specific of the corrupt, feckless parties that now control Iraq. Yet Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama also offer no incentive for the Iraqi parties to negotiate, as they promise to implement a rapid and more or less fixed timetable for withdrawal of American forces.

A more flexible and tough-minded approach is needed. The only way Iraq's parties will make the necessary political compromises is with a "diplomatic surge" of intense pressure and incentives. They must know that the United States will not stay indefinitely, and that failure to negotiate and compromise in good faith would lead to an expedited American withdrawal and unspecified punishment of particularly recalcitrant parties. But they must also know that diplomatic progress could stretch out the timetable for American drawdown, buying time they need to build stability on the ground.

Negotiating a new constitutional bargain requires the active partnership of the United Nations and probably the European Union as well. They would have the standing and leverage to bring in aggrieved actors and the regional partners, including Iran.

We are finally getting many things right in Iraq. But unless we get the politics right, this more hopeful context will start unraveling by the time the next president assumes office, leaving him or her with a new crisis and nothing but dreadful choices.

Larry Diamond, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of "The Spirit of Democracy: the Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World," just published.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/19/EDCLVLHII.DTL

This article appeared on page B - 9 of the San Francisco Chronicle



ufojoe

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#2 : March 21, 2008, 07:09:18 PM

Good. Now pay the guys from the other Surge thread and things will continue to get better.

leeroybuc93

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#3 : March 21, 2008, 08:21:08 PM

Glad to see that a paper is still reviewing facts on the ground and not just spouting the conventional wisdom. 

ufojoe

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#4 : March 21, 2008, 11:52:34 PM

There's really nothing new in this article and there is still no answer to how to get over the hump
politically in Iraq. Add to that, the writer totally ignored the money we promised the Sunnis has
not been paid in a large number of cases. Not good.

Like I said, pay the guys and your chances increase dramatically at getting close to success.
Still, the political problems need to be solved.


Morgan

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#5 : March 22, 2008, 02:48:08 AM

Now that we've achieved stability/security, its time for Condoleeza to do her stuff and get her staff to make things happen.  The success from the Balkan Peace Talks should serve as the model for Iraq. 

leeroybuc93

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#6 : March 22, 2008, 11:34:48 AM

There's really nothing new in this article and there is still no answer to how to get over the hump
politically in Iraq. Add to that, the writer totally ignored the money we promised the Sunnis has
not been paid in a large number of cases. Not good.

Like I said, pay the guys and your chances increase dramatically at getting close to success.
Still, the political problems need to be solved.



The new part is that someone (especially a SF newspaper) is reporting it.  As for the other concerns, why should they bring it up?  That wasn't even what they were talking about.  The article was about the surge, not long term political stability.  Besides, long term stability is much easier to achieve when people feel safe.  This will help immensely. 
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