Monday, August 27, 2007

NIE: Iraq Is Done. Was There Any Question?

Oh, where do we go,
Where do we go from here?
Where to go?
To the side of a hill
Blood was spilt
We were still looking at each other.
But we're going back there?

The NIE is out and it isn't pretty:
The addition of 30,000 U.S. troops in Iraq over the past several months has so far brought "uneven improvements in Iraq's security situation," according to declassified key judgments of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, an update of a January assessment.

"The level of overall violence . . . remains high; Iraq's sectarian groups remain unreconciled . . . and to date Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively," the new report said.

Let's skip to the point, shall we? The "stay the course BS" is done, the phased withdrawal means a diminished mission strategy and an Iranian takeover and a complete and immediate withdrawal means an Iranian takeover only on fast forward. Naturally, the negotiations with Iran will come to a complete halt as it becomes apparent from the NIE and Iran's own intelligence that the surge is not working. A phased withdrawal means that the US will be giving the handover to Iraqis unfit to govern and zero security as Iran makes its move. Ditto with complete withdrawal. The US, even if the Democrats win, will most likely stay in Iraq for the time being, but in the long run, they will move outside the major centres, in massive bases to act as a non-intrusive (to Iraqis) and safe (for US troops) harbour and as a trip wire if Iran ever attempts anything (a la Korean Peninsula).

Stratfor simply explains in a way I haven't articulated:
The new U.S. mission, therefore, must be to block Iran in the aftermath of the Iraq war. The United States cannot impose a government on Iraq; the fate of Iraq's heavily populated regions cannot be controlled by the United States. But the United States remains an outstanding military force, particularly against conventional forces. It is not very good at counterinsurgency and never has been. The threat to the Arabian Peninsula from Iran would be primarily a conventional threat -- supplemented possibly by instability among Shia on the peninsula.

The mission would be to position forces in such a way that Iran could not think of moving south into Saudi Arabia. There are a number of ways to achieve this. The United States could base a major force in Kuwait, threatening the flanks of any Iranian force moving south. Alternatively, it could create a series of bases in Iraq, in the largely uninhabited regions south and west of the Euphrates. With air power and cruise missiles, coupled with a force about the size of the U.S. force in South Korea, the United States could pose a devastating threat to any Iranian adventure to the south. Iran would be the dominant power in Baghdad, but the Arabian Peninsula would be protected.

Yes, the Iranians and the US are going to be in close contact as Iran's foot soldiers come ever closer to the US. Remember, however, that as Stratfor has said, the US is poor at its anti-insurgent work, it is still the craziest conventional force on earth, and Iran has something to lose. If push comes to shove, Iran will get completely worked by the US in the event of a skirmish. For real. And the US could do it without ground forces as there are two aircraft carriers sitting in the Persian Gulf at the moment off the Straits of Hormuz.

And yes, by my own back of the envelope calculation Iran spends about 1/100th of the US budget on their own army...Or, about 1/3 of the Canadian military's budget. Yes, that's 1/3 of Canada's budget. It's quite possible we could kick their ass.

Anyways, here's a song I can't get out of my head:

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