A worldview is a set of claims that purport to be based on ultimate reality.

Talking Sunnis Down From the Ledge

Posted by ssbg on January 16, 2006

Good News! , Iraq Matters                            0sunnis.jpg

Hatched by Sachi   from:

You wouldn’t know it from reading the American mainstream news, but for the last year or so, the U.S. military has quietly been negotiating with various militant Sunni tribes in Iraq to give up their arms and participate in the political process.

We’ve known for some time that a rift is growing between the Sunni rejectionists and the foreign al-Qaeda terrorists. Our military has exploited this rift to isolate the jihadis.

Our rationale is that the more militant Sunnis give up fighting and join the democratic Iraqi community, the fewer enemies we ultimately have to face in the final confrontations. At a bare minimum, the Sunni won’t interfere while we exterminate those al-Qaeda, Zarqawi and his cohorts, who make a last stand — which we all know must come eventually. If we could convince some of the militant Sunni that it is to their tribe’s benefit to cooperate with us, they may give us valuable intelligence on their erstwhile allies… or even fight alongside us, as their brother Iraqis who accept democracy are doing today.

The strategy is paying greater dividends than we imagined. The Belmont Club has compiled a list of recent conflicts between al-Qaeda and Sunni rejectionists; the fault line between them has widened so much that some formerly militant Sunnis are actually helping the U.S. and Iraqi armies conduct military operations.

The Albu Mahal tribe is now an ally of the Iraqi government, and provides the majority of the troops for the Desert Protection Force, which is a organization of the local tribal fighters that provide for local security and act as scouts for Iraqi Army and U.S. Marines operating in the area.

Unsurprisingly, the international media considers this successful strategy of ours to be a betrayal of President Bush’s “stay the course? policy. Through an absurdly literal reading of the metaphor, in which “the course” must always be a straight line, and any deviation left or right is tantamount to a complete repudiation, the Asian and European press agencies crow that America has surrendered — when in fact, we stand on the threshold of historic victory.

For example, Gereth Porter opines in Asian Times that if the world “understood” our current strategy of persuading former Sunni rejectionists to throw down their guns and support democracy in Iraq, it would cause us “serious political problems”:

The Republican Party has just unveiled a new television ad attacking Democratic Party chair Howard Dean for suggesting that the war in Iraq cannot be won.

Renouncing victory over the Sunni insurgents therefore undercuts the president’s political strategy of portraying his policy as one of “staying the course” and attacking the Democrats for “cutting and running”…

The new soft line toward the Sunni insurgents is a belated administration response to the conclusion of the US military commanders in Iraq last summer that the Sunni insurgents could not be “defeated” and that there must be a political settlement with them.


Of course, what the commanders actually concluded was that they could not be defeated by military means alone, that there had to be a political component to the push; not only is Bush not “belatedly” accepting this idea, it has been the administration’s plan from Day One of the invasion: we always planned to democratize Iraq as the long-term goal for rendering it no longer a threat to America.

In a stunning speech delivered on November 6th, 2003 to the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush made explicit the Bush Doctrine, which calls for democratizing the hellholes of the world — in particular, the Middle East — as a way of securing America and liberating the captive peoples across the globe.

In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are also working together to build a democracy — and after three decades of tyranny, this work is not easy…. And we’re working closely with Iraqi citizens as they prepare a constitution, as they move toward free elections and take increasing responsibility for their own affairs….

This is a massive and difficult undertaking — it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed — and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran — that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.


We do not come late to the table of Middle-East democracy.

Contrary to Porter’s overwrought accusation, negotiating the terms of your enemy’s surrender is not a sign of defeat. It is a sign of victory. We are not the ones giving up fighting in favor of peaceful participation in the political process. We are not the ones outing our former allies’ hideouts and attack plans.

To see who is winning and who is losing, let’s apply the simple test of asking “cui bono?” Who benefits? Clearly it is the American policy of democratizing Iraq, not the jihadi cause of returning Iraq to tyranny, that benefits from rejectionists giving up the fight and running for office.

Mr. Porter makes like he does not understand that in war, the wise general has many different plans working in parallel. Many are secret; we certainly don’t make a habit of sharing our plans with the world — unless some CIA or NSA snitch drops a dime to the New York Times! (Defense Secretary Rumsfeld would call that strategy “unhelpful.”) But that doesn’t mean we have no plans.

Cajoling the enemy into abandoning the fight, even while we engage in battle, is not a contradiction: unless our intention is to kill every last Sunni who has ever opposed us, which is absurd on its face, neutralizing the enemy by negotiation is always in order.

One more reason Mr. Porter considers our policy to be proof of “defeat” is that the militant Sunni keep trying to suggest a timetable for our withdrawal:

The insurgents can also increase the pressure on Bush by making public their offer, reportedly made by insurgent leaders to Arab League officials in Cairo last month, to deliver al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Zarqawi, to the Iraqi authorities as part of a peace agreement involving a US withdrawal timetable.

But the Sunni can offer anything they want; it’s up to us to decide whether the offer is good enough for us to accept. If we do, it will be because what we gain is more valuable than what we give up; this is no more a “defeat” than it is when you and some seller come to an agreement on a piece of real estate: neither of you is a loser; you’re both getting something more valuable to you than you had going in… it’s a win-win situation, just as it is when the Sunni propose various incentives for us to leave, and we weigh each one and decide to accept or reject the offer. The final decision is ours, not theirs.

We still have the winning hand, and the rejectionists know it. Last December, when President Bush had pointedly refused to issue any timetable for Coalition withdrawl, the Sunnis still showed up at the polls in unexpectedly strong numbers (a higher percentage of all Iraqis, Sunni, Shia, and Kurd, than showed up for our own vote a month earlier). The Sunni flatly rejected Zarqawi’s threat to escalate his terrorism if Iraqis voted.

Most Sunni rejectionists now understand that they are not in a position to make demands; the best they can do is cushion their fall somewhat. In the fight against the American military, the rejectionists, both Sunni and Shia, have been defeated. They know we can continue this war for at least the next three years, reducing their tribal lands to rubble if we so choose. Therefore, timetable or not, they will in the end have to meet our terms; they must choose whether to live — or to die.

By and large, they are choosing to live. And that is the ultimate vindication of our winning strategy in Iraq.


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