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Spectres of a Dark Future

August 15, 2007

Lest anyone think I’m some kind of war-mongering pollyanna, let me now burnish my credentials as nuanced observer of the war.

The Der Speigel article from the last post was absolutely incredible to the end, and I encourage any and all to read it until the end. A greater human drama is not to be found in the world today.

To look for hope in a dark place though should be confused with thinking all is right with the world. Troubles abound from many a dim corner, and darkness can cloak it self with light.

As for far away corners of the world bearing dark gifts, Pakistan promises to be a possibly an extremely dangerous intrusion into the hard-earned success in Iraq, reports Bill Roggio in Pakistan: Concern over nukes as al Queda camps empty.

The al Qaeda and Taliban personnel abandoned the 28 camps after “the US had presented Islamabad with a dossier detailing the location of the bases as advance information on likely US targets,” Mr. Shahzad reported. “All other leading Taliban commanders, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, Gul Bahadur, Baitullah Mehsud and Haji Omar, have disappeared,” said Mr. Shahzad.

“Similarly, the top echelons of the Arab community that was holed up in North Waziristan has also gone,” reported Mr. Shahzad. Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies are believed to have leaked information to the Taliban and al Qaeda in the past, and appears to have done so again.

The emptying of the camps is a cause for great concern in the military and intelligence communities. “We don’t know where they went to or who was in the camps,” the military officer told The Fourth Rail. “They are well trained, these aren’t your entry level jihadis. They are dangerous.”

“This is one of the reasons that we are worried about a major CONUS [Continental United States] attack,” the senior military intelligence source told The Fourth Rail, noting the recent influx of news of terror cells attempting to penetrate the US. “If they evacuated their bases, they almost certainly did so out of fear of more than just the Pakistani army.”

Not only that, but there is significant reason to think that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could soon fall into the wrong hands.

Pessimism about the surge is Hugh Hewitt’s take on independent journalist Michael Totten’s vivid post from Iraq, Balance of Terror.

Yes the surge is having some military success, i.e. many bad guys are eating dust and many normal Iraqi’s are getting a measure of security back. And make no mistake about it, our military is gaining incredible respect and gratitude there for making that happen. But there is unquestionably a dark side, an unknown future that could spoil the success of today.

People are helping the Americans. For now. But what do they really believe in their hearts? I don’t think anyone can say with certainty. On the one hand, he describes scenes like this:

On a typical patrol at dawn the soldiers I embedded with did only two things: they kept up a visible presence in the area and tossed boxes of Girl Scout cookies to children.

As the morning progressed and more people woke up, entire families came out of their houses to greet us and wave. Private Goings, the gunner in the Humvee I rode in, threw one box of cookies after another. Kids and their parents received them ecstatically. We did this all morning, for four hours. Aside from a 20 minute dismounted patrol near a palm grove, all we did was drive around and throw cookies.

“This is definitely not a war,” said Sergeant Daniel E. Lizanne. He was referring, of course, to his specific area, not to more violent places like Baqubah and Sadr City. “It’s a peacekeeping mission. We’re really just like police officers here. Right now all we’re doing is waiting for somebody stupid to shoot at us.”

It really didn’t look or feel like a war. No one in the area gets shot or blown up. For hours I watched American soldiers act as though they were employed by Santa Claus rather than the United States Army.

He’s got pictures to back it up too. On the other hand, he describes the maddening ambiguity of some Iraqis who support us now, but also seem to support the thuggish Shia leader Moqtada al Sadr:

Nothing makes me more pessimistic about Iraq’s future prospects than this. The Mahdi Army is Iran’s major proxy in Iraq. It is, in effect, the Iraqi branch of Hezbollah.

The Iranians know what they’re doing. Lebanon was their proving ground. The Revolutionary Guards built Hezbollah from scratch along the border with Israel and in the suburbs south of Beirut during the chaos of civil war and Israeli occupation. In Iraq they’re simply repeating the formula, only this time more violently.

So as military success proceeds in Iraq, the enemies of the free and prosperous adapt and poise to attack for their own evil purpose. Nothing is safe, nothing is sure except the knowledge that these people simply will not stop until they understand they are defeated. I’m sure our military is well aware and counter-adapting accordingly. It looks to me like al Sadr has limited time to adapt and behave or be hunted down. Many people support him out of fear, not heart-felt allegiance.

It could all go well for a while and then all go to hell when Pakistan falls apart. It could play out in a dozen different ways. As for me, I hope for the best and refuse to be cowed by the ghost of the future. What say you?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Timmy C. permalink
    August 23, 2007 4:03 pm

    Interesting documents out today in the NIE… Seemingly a very sober and good document to see where we are.

    It does cite “modest” and “uneven” tactical progress in some areas.

    But then adds:

    “however, the level of overall violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains high; Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled; AQI retains the ability to conduct high-profileunable to govern effectively.”

    And in the first NIE since the surge, it says that so far “broadly accepted political compromises required for sustained security, long-term political progress, and economic development are unlikely to emerge unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments.

    http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/documents/nie_dni_20070823_release.pdf?hpid=topnews

    It seems like a sober and clear headed picture of the systemic problems, and the failure f the escalation of US forces so far to create the “fundamental shift” needed for the political solution to occur.

    I hope something does this trick, but I remain unsure that anything short of us threatening to leave would do it.

    And also posted today was this look at the surge numbers trying to do a good apples to apples comparison of this summer vs. last:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_08/011931.php

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