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October 20, 2006


Ben P

I think mainly 2 and 3, particularly 2.


5)The US trying to negotiate a temporary, pre-election ceasefire in the hope of making the situation look better than it is?


5. That old chestnut? Again?

How's this any different or more meaningful than the exact same stories that were circulating in February 2005, June 2005 and June 2006?


I don't think there is even the capacity for such coherence in the US political and military leadership to have such goals. A leader here, a group or party in the Administration or military there - at that level perhaps. But there are so many different parties, most of whom have such a poor understanding of what's going on in reality, that I think any attempt at a coherent intelligent policy is undermined as soon as or before it even gets underway.

If you ask me, this is all just flailing about looking for yet another way to do something slightly different and hoping it'll get better. SCIRI has perhaps been best at manipulating the American naivete and chaos, perhaps the Jaysh al-Islami are trying to do the same now? Quite frankly, I would attribute more ability to act in a coherent manner to a reasonably well organized insurgent group than I would to the US Administration and military leadership (in a macro sense at least, one can at least say that some US military units have acted in a coherent manner even if the campaign as a whole has not). Of course the Jaysh al-Islami may also have the delusion of coherent US thinking in which case they may end up disappointed in US actions a few months or weeks down the road even if they think they're getting some of what they want in initial negotiations.

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I would guess that it's some of each of those, with an emphasis on how the Sunni Arab insurgent groups will deal with Al Qaeda.

Ben P

When I think about it further, though, doing #2 is also kind of a back-handed way of admitting #4.

At this point, I really do think the Sunni insurgency is in a formidable position. It enjoys broad support in the Sunni "countryside" and can rely on ample funding/resources from various benefactors in the region - particularly from the the Gulf. The US is never going to beat it militarily. And recent statements tend to suggest the US knows this.

That said, I think the insurgency and its constituency really does hate Al Qaeda. I don't know what the US can make of this - but I think it does tend to suggest that the US might eventually go the way of a Sunni "strongman" and a troop withdrawal if they can get the proper assurances on Al Qaeda (and also, of course, Iran).

I do tend to think the "experiment" is coming to an end and "Saddam-lite" could be coming before the 2008 pres. election.


I think most of what the administration says in English is for domestic consumption and doesn't at all reflect what they are actually thinking and doing.

Case in point, your main man Alberto Fernandez not only went onto al jazeera, but he said, "We tried to do our best [in Iraq] but I think there is much room for criticism, because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq," and also "We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the hell and the killings in Iraq are linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation." He basically said that the US would talk to anyone except al qaeda in Iraq. I've never heard any administration figure say anything like this in English.

Is this something that Bush would say? Certainly not, since it would contradict the Bush line of "We've never done anything (major) wrong, and besides, we don't negotiate with terrorists, we kick their asses!" What Bush is wiling to say, however, is that he's ready for "tactical changes"(he's very careful to say tactics rather than strategies, a purely political distinction). Bush doesn't say anything that would threaten his tough guy image(like, "We're negotiating with the bad guys"), but that doesn't mean it isn't happening in reality, in secret.

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