Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Highlights from last year's political plan

One of the great advantages of blogging is the creation of dispersed and accessible institutional memory, so when my colleague Cernig makes a couple of great points about the new Maliki political reconciliation plan, we can quickly access previous analogues and see what happened to them. Cernig noted that this 5 point plan looks like a Power Point special compared to last year's 28 point reconciliation plan. I have some of the details over at my old blog, and here are the analytical highlights from last year that are still relevant:

The Maliki plan for reconciliation in Iraq is a 28 point plan that tries to sidestep several deal breakers by handwaving and pushing off the decisions that need to be made to someone else at some undefined point in the future. In short, he is doing what has become the norm in the Iraqi political process for the past three years; pass the buck and duck from the incoming RPG fire.

The major point of contention is US forces --- the plan is that there will some vague, undefinable success metric that will allow the US to pull out completely, or at least pull out the combat brigades, as the Iraqi military is designed to be a dysfunctional joke if it is forced to self-sustain for more than a couple of days of combat operations. And here is the problem.

The Sunni Arab insurgency has fought the US military and the Iraqi military to an operational draw over the past three years; they have achieved a continued downward spiral to fail statehood as they have exercised the one veto option that they have --- armed resistance to the Baghdad central government......

we have an almost unsolvable dilemna --- the Shi;ite government needs to make an anti-US forces in country stand for the benefit of Sadr and his movement of Shi'ite nationalists and centralists, but they need several US divisions to hold onto power. Therefore the political process is still a joke in my mind....

punt the ball and pray for a deux ex machina intervention one or two friedmans later to solve the avoided and difficult problems has not been a successful problem solving strategy.....

The follow-up post highlights the mutually improbable and nearly contradictory constraints that Maliki has to dance to with his various stakeholders including the US military, SCIRI, and the Sadrists as well as seeking to achieve his goal of promoting national reconciliation:

According to Agence France Press, the amnesty offer only seems to apply the wrongly arrested anyways.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said his peace plan will not offer amnesty for rebels who have killed US-led troops.

"Those who targeted coalition troops, foreigners and journalists will not be offered amnesty as they have spread terror," he said in an interview with state television Al-Iraqiya.............. "Those who have no blood of Iraqis or security forces on their hand, our doors are open for them. But those who are involved in bombings and kidnappings we can't set them free."

the amnesty does not extend to insurgents who have engaged Iraqi security forces, it does not extend to those who only engage US or other foreign forces. So who does this extend to who is actually involved in the violence?
A harsh peace can be imposed by a government that is approaching military and counter-insurgent superiority. In that case it is rational for the insurgent force to cut the best deal that they can because being in prison and alive is better than being killed. However a harsh peace is also a good way of starting the next war, even if the counterinsurgent/government force can proclaim a short term victory.

This is the demand of a government that has an army that is a joke.

History --- it's your friend for when you want to laugh at the absurdity of the headlines today as we saw these headlines a year ago and the year before that, and the year before that.

No comments: