IS THE INSURGENCY OVER?Fabius Maximus
offers a contrarian argument at DNI
-" The Iraq insurgency has ended, which opens a path to peace
". I found this to be one of FM's most interesting pieces, which should be read in full; I will comment on several points that intrigued me in particular:
"Having a bureaucracy, capital, constitution, and seat at the UN does not make a government. Governments have specific characteristics. The more of these they possess, the stronger and more durable they are. The most important attributes:
Control of armed forces, or even monopoly of armed force in its borders.
The ability to levy and collect taxes.
An administrative mechanism to execute its policies.
Territory in which it is the dominant political entity.
Control of borders.
Legitimacy (not love) in the eyes of its people.
The national “government” of Iraq has, by most reports, none of these. It lives on oil revenue and US funding. Its ministries are controlled by ethnic and religious groups, parceled out as patronage and run for their “owners” benefit. The only territory it controls is the Green Zone, by the grace of the Coalition’s armed forces
Defining or determining the "legitimacy" of states is one of the stickiest questions in international relations and one in which statesmen, political scientists, historians and international law experts lack a consensus. De jure
recognition of other states is a small substantive component but a large diplomatic one and it can matter. Having the consent of the governed, implicitly by primary loyalty or explicitly through an electoral process is critical but it can quickly be frittered away through incompetence and weakness.
"What were the Iraq elections? An expression of hope by its people, or an ignorant or delusional attempt at nation-building by America. Perhaps both.
Either way, it was a step on a path to nowhere. Athenian democracy and the Roman republic were built on a foundation of internal political machinery by which the leaders’ decisions were translated into actions. Iraq lacked that after our invasion, and we constructed the government with no supporting bureaucratic mechanisms. Voting does not magically call the necessary apparatus into existence.
The only effective political apparatus in Iraq exists at the local level. Much of that is done by the most basic form of government: only those commanding armed men have a vote
The democratic vote in Iraq was a historically important moment, Fabius underestimates the import. He is however, quite correct, that the moment was not capitalized upon nor did the administration even attempt to prepare the interim Iraqi government to do so. Most of the political momentum was lost and democracy as a value was depreciated in the long and mostly pointless wrangling among Iraqi parties that followed. Where was General Leonard Wood when we needed him ?
Fabius also offers some advice:"Beyond that, there are two possible ways we can help.
First, to secure public spaces in Iraq’s major cities – a form of static defense. No longer attackers, clear to all as only temporary helpers, we might transform from targets to neutral guardians.
Second, even more important, we can secure Iraq’s borders, especially with Iran. Iraq has no Army, probably by our design to maximize their dependence on us. In this role we can relocate our forces out of harm’s way (except as needed as above). Unlike the dreams of neocons, this is probably not a long-term arrangement. If Iraq survives, eventually it will build a real army and tell us to leave.
This plan gives us a soft exit path, no matter what happens in Iraq."
Some of this is quite sage but I'm hard pressed to see how the first part in particular is going to be different in the functional military sense from what General Petraeus is doing with the COIN surge. Different intent on FM's part, certainly, but actions will be similar, if not identical.
Much to read in that piece.
Labels: COIN, dni, fabius maximus, insurgency, iraq