Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The alliance with former enemies, Iraqi Sunni fighters in al-Anbar province, may end up being the template for how to deal with Iran over time. The reason's were far more complicated and not the result of the surge, which Patraeus and Bush are taking their time, 6 months or so, to bail on. The Sunni fighters turned on al-Qaida not because of US military or diplomatic success, but because of al-Qaida's blunder in insisting on marriages to locals to solidify their stance in the region. There will only be sabre rattling from W while he remains in office so 2009 is the very earliest the US can start to ratchet down the tensions. (I bet Thomas Barnett would agree, though with insightful caveats.) It may even hold some lessons for law enforcement at home at is relates to gangs. The broader pattern here is that engagement beats confrontation from a return standpoint in all but the most extreme cases. Politicians and others make their living exploiting fear. Not that the fear is needless - the threats are real - but it is easy to slip into false notions of cause and effect. The results in Anbar, coupled with the lack of results from confrontational tactics with Iran and gangs, makes for some interesting and convention-challenging thought. If you are so inclined. Of course, angry hell-with-them thoughts and politics are always easier. It's just that they don't do any good - and are the policy equivalent of a temper tantrum.