Can we judge the actions of Iraq’s government, from our safe seats at home?

Summary:  Can we judge the actions of Iraq’s government?  From our safe and secure society, Americans often give advice that seems suicidal for those in Iraq’s violent and turbulent society.

From today on the essential “abu muqawama“, a post by Dr. iRack discussing the “The rise and fall of a Sons of Iraq warrior“, Los Angeles Times (29 June 2008).  The analysis is interesting, as usual, but raises a frequently raised point worth considering.

… The Shia-dominated Iraqi government considers many of the SoIs {Sons of Iraq} to merely be fronts for “former” insurgents. They are right, but they draw the wrong conclusion. Ending insurgencies and civil wars usually requires the government and counterinsurgent forces to hold their noses and make some accommodation with groups that used to be killing them. This is the lesson of the Sunni Awakening, but it’s not clear the Iraqi government has internalized this lesson.

… Maliki and his inner circle of advisers — perhaps, most notably, those involved in the Implementation and Follow up Committee for National Reconciliation (IFCNR) — are paranoid that too much SoI integration will allow infiltration of the ISF by Sunni insurgents. And Maliki et al’s growing (over)confidence in the prowess of the ISF has not put them in a compromising mood with these “thugs” and “hooligans.” As a result, Maliki has been slow to integrate SoIs or provide them other forms of gainful employment despite repeated promises to do so.

… This is a huge mistake.

Please read the post in full; this is just an abstract.  Still, is this evaluation correct?  Just because Maliki is paranoid about the Sunni ex-insurgents does not meant that they are not his enemies.

After the American Revolution we reconciled with the Loyalists by sending them to Canada, often by harsh “encouragements.”  We ignored the Treaty of Paris provisions mandating compensation to the Loyalists for their lost property.

After the Civil War the Union reconciled with South by means of Reconstruction (1865 – 1877).  Not much accommodation there.

Allowing the Sunni ex-insurgents into the Iraq national forces seems madness unless they have a real allegiance to the new Iraq State.  This is not a matter of “vetting”, the mindless formula usually given the media as assurance about this.  How can Prime Minister Maliki know this with a reasonable degree of certainty?  How can he bring them into the government forces without this?

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Other posts about Iraq’s new political order

  1. The Iraq insurgency has ended, which opens a path to peace (13 March 2007)
  2. Beyond Insurgency: An End to Our War in Iraq (21 September 2007)
  3. A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012 (1 March 2008)
  4. The Iraq War will end in 2009 (19 May 2008)
  5. Iraq, after the war (20 May 2008

Click here for an archive of all posts about the Iraq & Afghanistan Wars.

2 thoughts on “Can we judge the actions of Iraq’s government, from our safe seats at home?”

  1. Just a quick correction: it should be 1865-1877. {fixed! “1965” was bit late for the start date}

    It seems the Iraqi government is faced with a stark choice: allow the Sunni militias into the government with the risks of infiltration that carries or deny them and have to face them down in a long drawn out guerrilla conflict. I wish I knew what the right course of action is but I don’t. I suspect no-one has an answer to the dilemma that would let the situation be resolved peacefully.
    Fabius Maximus replies: There is probably no quick fix. A road to peace might be thru allowing the Sunni Arabs a generous slice of the oil revenue, considerable self-government (a loose Federation), and a role in the government. But until their allegiance to the government is firm, allowing them into the Irag security forces seems mad.

  2. “But until their allegiance to the government is firm, allowing them into the Irag security forces seems mad.”
    And the other side of the catch-22, until they are allowed into the Iraq security forces, they would be mad to have allegiance to the government.

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