Worthwhile reading: “Will armloads of US cash buy tribal loyalty?”, Christian Science Monitor (Nov 8, 2007) .
We’re buying — more accurately, leasing — the loyalty of the three major groups in Iraq. This is a brilliant tactic, if used to accomplish specific and useful goals. Perhaps cash and arms were General Petraeus’ secret weapons. Supporting all sides in the civil war, a 4x increase in bombing, and massive ethnic cleansing have substantially reduced violence in Iraq. (None of these are in the FM 3-24 COIN playbook) This can be sold as “peace”. It provides time for us to declare victory and leave (how accurately can only be seen later).
Or we might hope that violence continues to diminish and a new political order arises (both quite likely, imho) — one that meets some of America’s strategic goals for the Iraq Expedition (far less likely, imho): long-term bases, giving our corporations access to Iraq oil, and Iraq as a local ally against Islamic jihadists. Our “hope for the best” strategy has not worked well so far in Iraq. We can only hope for better results from it in the future.
Additional note (12 Nov 2007): See this TomDispatch which makes the same point as above: Fighting Whom in Iraq?, Robert Dreyfuss (11 November 2007)