In his latest article, Freedomland, William Lind defines victory in Iraq and maps out how such can be achieved.
Reality of present-day Iraq:
The defining reality in Iraq is that there is no state. Because there is no state in Iraq, there is also no government. Orders issued in Baghdad have no impact because there are no state institutions to carry them out. Government institutions such as parliament and positions such as cabinet minister have no substance. Power comes from having a relationship with a militia, not a government office. The â€œIraqi Security Forcesâ€ are groups of Shiâ€™ite militias, which exist to fight other militias. They take orders from militia leaders, not the government. Government revenues are slush funds for militia leaders to pay their militiamen.
Definition of victory:
Winning in Iraq simply means that a state re-emerges there. The rise of a new state in Iraq means defeat for al-Qaeda and other non-state entities, who are our real enemies. States donâ€™t like competition, and real states do not permit non-state entities to exist on their territory (unless they are actually proxies the state plans to use against other states).
Not the definition of victory:
[Victory] does not mean that Iraq becomes an American satellite. That remains the goal of the Bush administration and the neocons, but it is not and never was attainable.
Map to victory:
[W]e should stay out of the way of anyone with the potential to re-create a state. Muqtada al-Sadr is at or near the head of that list. The al-Maliki â€œgovernmentâ€ isnâ€™t even on it.
[W]e must accept the now well-proven fact that we cannot re-create a state in Iraq. We have tried for five years and we have nothing to show for it beyond 4,000 dead, tens of thousands wounded, and an empty treasury. The problem is legitimacy. Any state institutions we create or overtly support will not be accepted by the Iraqi people as legitimate. That is generally true of governments created and installed by foreign occupiers. The local response is, â€œVichy ptui.â€
[W]e must face the fact that a real Iraqi state is likely to be close to Iran. The solution is not to bomb Iran but to settle our differencesâ€”what diplomats call a rapprochement. Tehran has offered us a general settlement on quite generous terms. We should take them up on it. If the U.S. and Iran are no longer enemies, the fact that a new Iraqi state is allied with Iran is not a problem.
America’s current strategy:
We went to war against al-Sadr on behalf of al-Maliki, of course. Our military leadership cannot grasp one of the most basic facts about Fourth Generation war, namely that the splintering of factions makes it more difficult to generate a state. Should we have the bad luck to destroy the Madhi Army and thereby â€œwinâ€ this fightâ€”which continues with the usual mindless and counterproductive airstrikes on Basra and Sadr City in Baghdadâ€”we will move not toward but farther away from seeing a state re-emerge in Iraq.
Those who have ears, let them hear. If [America falsely believes] the main reason for the problems in Iraq is Iran, what does the United States need to do?
Foolishly attack Iran.