Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

What one arrest teaches us...

I have a new piece out on Hudson NY, about the Adel al-Mashhadani arrest in Fadhel, the 'reckoning' that the false prophets keep predicting, and the myths of the surge.

The concluding paragraphs are:

What is scary is that the lessons of the ‘surge’ are to be implemented in one form of another in Afghanistan, without fully understanding the implications, and delusions, of what happened in Iraq. This is no mere exercise in ‘I told you so’: the surge arrived in Iraq as the insurgency was petering out, but the surge is going to Afghanistan as the Taliban are on an uptick. The consequences of this misreading could be very, very grave.

The case of Adel al-Mashhadani teaches us that there cannot be security without ‘nation building’, a concept that has become something of a dirty word in the Obama administration. The two go hand in hand. One cannot turn to the thugs and co-opt them, letting bygones be bygones, because in the vast majority of cases, people seldom change their spots. In the New Iraq, men like Mashhadani should be dangling by their necks, not swaggering around with an American ID card hanging from their collars. One cannot expect the thief, the rapist, or the murderer to police the innocent. That is always a recipe for tyranny, for that is how tyrants rule. Let us hope that America’s new doctrinarians are not inclined to equate tyranny with stability, in a hasty repudiation of a doctrine that sees stability as an extension of democracy.

The usual argument against barring the Ba’athists from power runs akin to that made for rehiring the Nazis in postwar Germany: they made the trains run on time. But the analogy to putting Mashhadani back on payroll is to have brought back the Gestapo to maintain order in Bonn. Not only is it immoral, it’s dangerously absurd. We should be thankful that the Iraqi government is soberly correcting a foolish legacy that the departing Americans have forced upon them.


Anonymous Kevlaur said...

I've read, off and on, your blog for a while now. I will have to disagree with your comment in the Hudson piece about how the insurgency was winding down in the Autumn of 2006. Did you mean 2007? Civilian deaths were rising and peaked in the December time-frame of 2006. You state that the surge was the 'catalyst.' If you mean it created the atmosphere that allowed the awakening, etc, to take hold I would agree. However, it seems you are saying the insurgency was dying down in Autumn 2006... if based on civilian deaths this just isn't the case. In fact they were rising and peaked in 2007.
And if you're basing it on American deaths they also were rising in 2006.

12:59 PM, April 05, 2009

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Dear Kevlaur,

Those are not the metrics I was using to explain things back in 2006. Kindly go back to what I was writing at the time to get a feel for what I'm talking about.

I'd cite this column as a starting point:


The paragraph that addresses your comment is:

"Iraq is succeeding because the Iraqi state has weathered the worst of the insurgent storm and survived, and because the Sunni insurgency is fatigued. "What about all the bodies? What about all the bombings?" Indeed, it's the worst it has been, but not the worst it can be. I see many hopeful signs that cannot be dismissed. To me, the numbers of the dead — painful as they are — are not as critically dangerous as a much talked about shift in American strategy away from the goal of securing a democratic Iraq."

And I'd also ask you to look at this column:




3:23 PM, April 05, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely that is was a very dangerous gamble to bankroll the Sunni "insurgents," thugs or otherwise. I agree that the tide was already turning with the Sunni disillusioment with AQI and we made short-term gains by working with them. The question is what do we do now? What advice would you give to Amb. Hill if and when he gets to Baghdad?

7:10 AM, April 12, 2009

Anonymous amagi said...


Any comment on the NY Times article detailing the arrest of Sheik Maher Sarhan Abbas:


What do you know about this guy and his situation?

10:06 AM, April 12, 2009

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