Monday, May 21, 2007

Motivation not ability

I am amazed at this Washington Post piece on how the Bush Administration is looking back at the ISG recommendations and 'rethinking' them after they rejected them straight out of hand. I agree with Jonathan Singer at MyDD that this is just the Bush Administration going through the motions to kill the clock and pass the problem on to anyone else in 2009. We have been told for four years now that 'soon as conditions on the ground allow' a big withdrawal and change towards a successful strategy will occur.

However there was one small passage that stuck out as being completely absurd and frightening in its illustration of how far behind the curve the Administration is in its public strategic thinking and reality recognition:

"I liked what James A. Baker and Lee Hamilton suggested," Bush said in East Grand Rapids, Mich., last month. "And that is to be in a position at some point in time where our troops are embedded with the Iraqi units -- in other words, there's Iraqi units providing security with a handful of U.S. troops -- helping them learn what it means to be a good military."

The underlying thought behind this analysis is that the Iraqi military and internal security forces are motivated to fight for a vision of Iraq that is roughly in line with the US vision of Iraq and that they mainly lack the skill and potentially some equipment to fight well. No one of any significance in Iraq besides the small faction led by Allawi and funded by the US Government actually believes or willingly seeks to implement a unified, weak, pro-US, pro-occupation, anti-Iran, run the pumps to max to break OPEC Iraq.

The problem for the Iraqi military is not that it is incapable of fighting. The Iranians know this, the US Marines and US Army know this, the Kurds know this. The Sunni Arabs militias and mafias fighting the Sadrist militia and mobs know this.

The problem is motivation.

Units and individuals that are willing to fight are much more effective in accomplishing their mission than better equipped and better trained units and individuals that don't want to be there and don't care about any outcome of the fight besides keeping themselves and their buddies alive.

A solution for a US strategy of relying on Iraqi forces to stand up so that the US can stand down is not to give more equipment and training to unmotivated Iraqi units that don't care what the US desired end state for Iraq looks like. Instead it is to re-imagine that end state so that it can coincide and overlap with the desired end state of most of the Iraqi population. At that point the strategy of Iraqization has a chance of producing a desired outcome.

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