Monday, February 26, 2007

# Posted 9:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

"THERE'S ABOUT 5,000 Al-QAIDA [FIGHTERS] IN IRAQ." Not exactly what you expect to hear from a Democratic senator, now is it? And I don't mean Joe Lieberman. He doesn't count.

Those are actually the words of Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who voted against the war in 2003.

The second time that Levin mentioned Al Qaeda in Iraq during his interview on NBC, he made sure to explain that they were there because of Bush:
There are now 5,000 to 6,000 al-Qaida people in Iraq. There weren’t any, or there were just a handful, prior to the war. Now they’re there because of the policies of this administration.
I'd say that's about right, and it isn't often you hear a Democratic senator even say that there were a handful of Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq before the war. But the real question is where do we go from here?

Levin says he wants to leave a small number of US troops in Iraq after March 2008 in order to train the Iraqis and fight Al Qaeda. But if you told the average American that there were five or six thousand Al Qaeda fighters in Iraq, how many troops do you think they would want to send in? I'm guessing not a few.

The significant presence of Al Qaida also raises two other issues: How would the Arab world interpret a US withdrawal (or drawdown to a Levin-sized contingent)? And what would happen to Iraq after that withdrawal/down?

Levin is adamant that things won't -- or couldn't get worse:
MR. RUSSERT: If, in fact, we withdrew most of the troops out by March of 2008, your goal, and all-out civil war broke out, complete, total chaos in Iraq, what do you do then?

SEN. LEVIN: Well, that’s where we’re heading now.
As far as Sunday morning rhetoric goes, Levin's is the expected response. But it still shows that smart, influential Democrats still aren't grappling with the implications of their proposals. In fact, Levin even insisted twice that "Our proposal is an effort to try to succeed in Iraq."

I guess the easy response to this objection is that it wouldn't be hard to turn up a long list of far more disingenuous or misguided statements made especially by the Vice President and also the President. Levin himself pointed to the infamous "last throes" remark.

But I made it through the first two decades of my life and then some believing wholeheartedly that Democrats were too honest and too intelligent for their own good. Much of my identity as a liberal Democrat was based on the premise that if I wanted to be honest and intelligent, then there was only one party for me.

That same logic remains powerful to this today, with Democrats proudly proclaiming themselves to be part of the "reality-based community". It is that kind of pretension that makes my ears prick up when I hear one Democrat after another insist that there won't be any ethnic cleansing if we pull out of Iraq.

Well, maybe there won't be. I hope there won't be. But I wouldn't count on it.

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(6) opinions -- Add your opinion

Of course there will be ethnic cleansing once we leave, but this will largely be a result of insurgents getting funds from people in the Gulf and Syria and Shias from people in Iran. I don't think you mentioned in your post once the idea of having a regional forum at which we agree to withdraw from Iraq and engage in substantive discussions with all the neighbors of Iraq, including Iran or Syria.

That is the best we can do in terms of making Iraq a better place after we leave. A widely detested occupation and an oil law that is on absolutely ridiculous terms (around 75% profits will go to the multinationals: see Asia Times) will not get us anywhere nearer peace. Only a full and speedy U.S. withdrawal, as well as extensive and serious regional discussions, will do anything for Iraqis.

But this was never about the Iraqis.
Wait a minute! Did you just say that the Democrats are the party of honesty and intelligence and your evidence is that they say they are?

That is one dry sense of humor.
"There are now 5,000 to 6,000 al-Qaida people in Iraq. There weren’t any, or there were just a handful, prior to the war. Now they’re there because of the policies of this administration."

After the surge is finally fully branded a failure (This is already starting) we will pull out, probably after the 2008 election, and some of those thousands will migrate to another conflict against us, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa maybe, and others will go on to form cells in Western Europe, the US, and maybe parts of Asia.

Other AQI members will stay and run training camps in Anbar province. AQI will create a working relationship with the Iraqi Sunni tribes and fight the Shia and Kurds in exchange for autonomy in parts of Anbar that will be similar to the arrangement the Taliban and AQ reached prior to 9/11.

Iraq will fragment along ethnic lines and will turn into Afghanistan after the Russians left. Baghdad and the other mixed cities will resemble Beirut during the 80s. I think we'll support the Kurds with weapons and then be surprised when they get used by factions in attacks on Turkey and Iran.

It is in the above mentioned traning camps and safe areas in Anbar that the next 9/11 scale attack on the United States proper will be planned. After the attack, the US will reinvade, most likely with a downsized Army and Marine Corps.

The downsizing will happen because the "failure" of the surge will discredit those in and out of the military who have been trying to bring a counterinsurgency capability to the military. Those not "tainted" by supporting COIN reforms will lead the return to concentrating solely on conventional warfare similar to the march up in Iraq in 2003.

Since the Army will be concentrating on quick in-out invasions and not follow-on occupations we won't really need a 10 division Army. I could see up to three divisions (12 BCTs) getting the axe along with some logisitcal formations along with similar proportional cuts in the USMC.

Personally, I'd rather force AQ to fight us in their backyard rather than ours.
On the other hand, if the fight was in ours we'd take it more seriously.
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