John M. Peters
by John M. Peters
Great news from Iraq! Tribal leaders who used to be fighting against US forces have turned their forces against Al Qaida instead. These tribal forces are working with US forces and the stars are now properly aligned in this epic battle of good against evil.
Desperate for any good news out of Iraq, the Administration has selected the tribes of Anbar as its latest poster child for Mission Accomplished and no Mission Accomplished commercial would be complete without the staged appearance of The Decider himself. Heeeeeeere's Dubya!
Do not take too much from the realignment of the tribes of Anbar. In Arabic there is an old proverb which translates as "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." This not only explains what is going on in Anbar, but throughout Iraq.
The Kurds have been America's greatest benefactors in Iraq. Protected and encouraged by US economic and military aid for decades they gratefully threw their militias into the US campaign to topple Saddam's regime. We can count on the Kurds…or can we? When it suited their immediate objectives the Kurds proved willing to align themselves with anyone including Saddam. When US interests — such as our greater interest in preserving a relationship with Turkey — run afoul of Kurdish national ambitions, will the Kurds continue to be the friendly lapdog we have come to know and love?
The Shiites took arms and support from the US following Gulf War I, but fought the hardest against the US invasion of 2003. Since the invasion they have fought with US forces and against them. When they sensed that the US shared their objective of subduing the Sunni ruling class they were willing participants in our plan for democracy. As US forces turned on Shiite militias and cozied up to disaffected Sunnis, they came out fighting, probably using the same arms we had provided them to fight Saddam.
Sunnis, who suffered the most from America's takeover, transformed into the insurgency and quickly began dispatching American forces, their private mercenary army and their multi-billion dollar Halliburton infrastructure. The Sunnis were our darlings when they were fighting Iran in the 1980's. Post-invasion they became our worst nightmare. In a kiss-and-makeup move, US forces have now decided to woo all manner of Sunnis from local tribal leaders to former Baathists. Yes, this wooing comes complete with American firepower for use against their designated enemies be they Al Qaida, the Shiites or opposing tribal leaders with whom they have a blood feud.
The Administration's talent for deception is only outweighed by its talent for self-deception. Rather than making friends and influencing people, American forces have become an extension of the private armies at war with each other in Iraq. While we fancy ourselves as the party calling the shots, it is the Iraqis who are skillfully manipulating US forces like the pea in the shell game. Iraqis at war with each other are more than happy to make a temporary accommodation with US forces in order to eliminate their enemy du jour. They cannot believe the kind of firepower and logistical support that is placed at their disposal on a handshake and a promise. And let's not forget infrastructure. "Yes Colonel, I will supply you with the names of the terrorists. Now, could you put the swimming pool a little closer to the Starbucks?"
September 5, 2007
John M. Peters [send him mail] is a practicing attorney in Michigan.
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