[OPE] General Petraeus: "you're not going to kill your way out of an insurgency"

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Sun Aug 31 2008 - 12:15:44 EDT

"in the course of our surge of 30,000, the Iraqis surged by over 130,000 actually, and climbing. The Sons of Iraq [armed Sunni neighborhood volunteers], the Awakening, that's another 99,000 now. You know, we had tribal Awakenings all the way back to early 2005, actually, but they ended up with their heads chopped off. The one that endured, of course, was the one that sprung up with Sheik Sattar out by Ramadi in October of 2006. You started to see a downward trend in violence but the [military] clearance of Ramadi didn't take place until mid-March through mid-April of 2007. And in a number of cases you had to clear it first, or at least you had to be started on that road before they would dare to raise their hand and say that they were willing to help protect their country, or their neighborhood. 

Beyond that, I think there was an intellectual construct. You know, it wasn't just "the surge." It wasn't just extra forces. It was the kind of conceptual guidance that was put out at the same time that we employed the additional forces ... starting with a focus on securing the population, which can only be done by living among them. [Another] intellectual construct was ... an explicit idea that we have to identify and separate the irreconcilables from the reconcilables, but that you're not going to kill your way out of an insurgency; you got to reconcile with as many as you can. That helps guide you, and that leads to, at the local level, political reconciliation and Awakenings, and then also you're looking to see, as the security situation allows, people start focusing on laws and budgets and all the rest of that. It takes a very comprehensive approach." http://www.newsweek.com/id/154597/page/3

So how about a military campaign against Iran, having gained the experience of Iraq ("Ba-ba-ba, ba-ba-bomb Iran" - John McCain)? The Washington Institute for Near East Policy philosophizes about the principles of imperialist attack:

"To be sure, in a tight world oil market, attacking Iran's oil infrastructure carries an obvious risk of causing world oil prices to soar and hurting consumers in the United States and other oil-importing countries. That result, however, need not be the case if sufficient excess capacity existed in countries ready to increase output to compensate for the loss of Iran's exports. In fact, one of the few rigorous empirical studies on the effect of strategic bombing, the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey conducted just after World War II, shows that strategic bombing succeeded in demoralizing enemy populations in Germany and Japan during the war, but because those countries had no organized opposition and because the regimes' mechanisms of social and political control remained intact, the demoralizing effect of bombing had no practical political consequence. Indeed, the experience of the Islamic Republic shows that the reaction to bombing depends upon the context. (...) 

When Iraq attacked Iran in September 1980, air raids on Tehran and other major cities in the initial days of the war inflamed nationalist passions and rallied the population behind the regime; even the former Shah's son volunteered to fight (his offer was turned down). In March-April 1988, however, after eight years of war, when Iraq escalated the "war of the cities" by launching 189 missiles in two months (nearly all against Tehran), the effect on Iranian morale was devastating, despite the relatively small number of casualties caused by the missile strikes. One-quarter of the population of Tehran fled the city, contributing to the Iranian decision in July 1988 to end the war. (...)  

The Iranian people are not an enemy population; thus, for various moral/ethical and legal reasons, U.S.-or for that matter, Israeli-planners would seek to minimize collateral damage (i.e., civilian casualties). Anecdotal reporting from recent wars in the Balkans and Iraq featuring precision strikes indicates that after a few days of bombing, civilians realized that as long as they stayed away from military facilities or potential strategic targets, they could go about their business reasonably safely, even during air raids. That fact is likely to undercut the intensity of the reaction to any preventive strike. (...) The Iranian public's reaction would likely be a function of the context and nature of the attack. In that light, any military action would most likely be planned with an explicit aim of preventing such a reaction. A raid that successfully destroys the nuclear facilities but inflames nationalist passions, engenders bitter anti-Americanism among ordinary Iranians, and consolidates popular support for an otherwise unpopular regime would come at a very high price. (..) 

Precisely because a diplomatic resolution is preferable, steps should be taken now to strengthen the credibility of the military option, in order to bolster the prospects for successful diplomacy, and to lay the groundwork for a successful policy of preventive military action should it eventually become necessary." http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC04.php?CID=292

In other words, "we have that option in the policy cupboard, and we'll use it, if the "context" is right".


PS - An interesting question is, where did all the weapons come from in the Iran-Iraq war 1980-88? "Iraq made extensive use of front companies, middlemen, secret ownership of all or part of companies all over the world, forged end user certificates and other methods to hide what it was acquiring. (...) Some transactions may have involved people, shipping, and manufacturing in as many as 10 countries. British support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war especially illustrated the ways by which Iraq would circumvent export controls. Iraq bought at least one British company with operations in the U.K. and the U.S. Iraq had a complex relationship with France and the Soviet Union, its major suppliers of actual weapons, to some extent having the two nations compete for its business. Singapore support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war discusses land mines assembled there, as well as chemical warfare precursors shipped from Singapore, possibly by an Iraqi front company. Another country that had an important role in arming Iraq was Italy, whose greatest impact was financial, through the U.S. branch of the state-owned largest bank in Italy. (...) While the United States directly fought Iran, citing freedom of navigation as a major casus belli, as part of a complex and partially illegal program (the Iran-Contra Affair), it also supplied weapons to Iran. North Korea was a major arms supplier to Iran. Its support provided included weapons it manufactured, Chinese and Soviet weapons for which the major power wanted deniability of the sale, and other Soviet-bloc weapons for which the major powers wanted deniability. Besides the US and the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia also sold weapons to both countries for the entire duration of the conflict. Likewise Portugal helped both countries: it was not unusual seeing Iranian and Iraqi-flagged ships side-by-side in Sines (a town with a deep-sea port). During the early years of the war, Iran's arsenal was almost entirely American-made, left over from the Imperial Armed Forces of the dethroned Shah. Iran's foreign supporters gradually came to include Syria and Libya. Iran purchased weaponry from North Korea and the People's Republic of China, notably the Silkworm anti-ship missile. (...) According to the report of the U.S. Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair issued in November 1987, "the sale of U.S. arms to Iran through Israel began in the summer of 1985, after receiving the approval of President Reagan." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-Iraq_War

In the "war against terror" much effort was made to frustrate financial dealings of potential terrorists around the world. But it's "happy holidays" for the arms dealers.

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