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Comments by

W. Patrick Lang

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President Bush's Address, entire page

Last night President Bush announced his adoption of a tri-partite plan for the pacification of Iraq in the context of his vision of the world as a Manichean array of the righteous opposed by the evil, a moiety reminiscent of the war in heaven described so ably by Milton, among others.

His plan represents the application of the counterinsurgency doctrine followed with mixed results by the United States in the 20th Century after its development by the French Army. This doctrine has now been “discovered?” by General Petraeus and friends and described in prettier words and a more literary style than the nasty old “paras” of my experience could ever have managed.

As Bernard Fall elucidated the doctrine: “Counterinsurgency = Counter-guerrilla operations + Political Action + Civic Action.”

In Bush’s plan:

1-The counter-guerrilla operations will be taken care of by Odierno’s Corps hopefully reinforced by Kurdish and Shia allies. In “Bushworld,” the Iraqi “people” yearn to be freed from the depredations of various kinds of “bandits” without regard to the ethnicity of the “bandits” or the Iraqi government forces and so will welcome an increase in the activities of US and government forces throughout Baghdad. In “Realworld,” the Shia population and militias are intent on driving the Sunni Arab population of the city out in order to make Baghdad a secure capital for the Shia “rump” state of Iraq. To that end the Shia are seeking to drive a “cordon sanitaire” across north Baghdad to isolate the Sunni Arab population to the south and make their departure inevitable. Since the “Bushworld” and “Realworld” conceptions of truth clash, it is inevitable that the forces engaged will also clash. Outcome? Who knows. The troops will fight well.

2- The Civic Action component of the plan will be provided in the form of a “lake” of money to be placed under the control of US field commanders for employment projects in support of the counterinsurgency. Good idea.

3- The Political Action part of this plan is where the whole scheme is going to collapse. In “Bushworld” the Maliki “government,” sheltered behind American troops in the Green Zone is somehow the equivalent of George Washington’s “infant” first administration in that it is groping toward a consolidation of its power in the context of a true regard for the interests of the various peoples of Mesopotamia and Kurdistan. In “Bushworld” all that is needed is to be sufficiently encouraging and mentoring with Maliki and his ministers to “jump start” the functions of a federal state endowed with a reasonably strong central government. In “Realworld” Maliki is merely another Shia Arab activist seeking to consolidate Shia Arab control over as much of the old Iraq as can be managed. In “Realworld” Maliki can not suppress the Shia militia leaders because he is their brother, embarked on the same quest for Shia power. In “Bushworld” we have asked the Maliki government to participate with us in fighting, if necessary, (and it will be) the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr. In “Realworld” Sadr is an ally from whom Maliki may not distance himself, because he and Sadr represent the same cause. Think not? Think about Saddam’s execution. Think about it. Who ran the execution? Who set the terms and circumstances? Was it Maliki? Patrick Lang