Thursday, November 13, 2008

Democrat Strategy in Iraq, Middle East

Full credit to Kat at Castle Argghhh!

The Democrat plan, starting with Iraq, has been to support a "bi-polar" regional solution. This solution consists of creating a multi-layered tension between states, religious ideologies and competing extremist organizations. The Democrat plan rests on the idea that each of these groups are the natural enemy of the other. By withdrawing from direct combat or reducing our foot print in the region it will cause each of these groups to focus on the weak states within the region, vying for influence. These states. like Iraq and Afghanistan will be proxies for the struggle between the Iranian/Syrian and the Saudi/Gulf States, Iran and Pakistan and Pakistan and India. It assumes that all of the different extremist terrorist organizations are either directly or indirectly controlled and supported by these various states or some groups within these states. It also assumes that these groups are a greater threat to the stability of these various states' governments and that they have a vested interest in controlling, directing or reducing the activities of these organizations. At both the state level and non-state level, it will also cause these groups to focus on gaining the de factor roll of leadership within the region. This is largely a struggle between Iran and the Saudi regime. Between the Shia and Sunni control of the ideological sweepstakes. Between the two largest oil supplying entities in the region for control of OPEC. It starts with agreeing to give Iran a nod of the head with their influence in Iraq. They believe our withdrawal from Iraq will let some pressue off of Iran and their fear of "regime change". By taking pressure off of Iran and reducing this fear it is expected that the Iranian backed organizations will stop focusing on disrupting US activities. In many regards, the Democrat plan hopes to take pressure off of US activities in Afghanistan where Iranian EFPs (explosive formed projectiles) started to make an appearance in IEDs (improvised explosive devices) used against US and coalition forces. This assumes that the main reason that Iran would be sending these weapons into Afghanistan is the fear of long term US presence in the area that could threaten Iran in the future.At the same time, the current US program of increased selling of US weapons to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to build up their conventional capabilities will continue or possibly increase. With the probability of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, this will once again re-affirm the US/Saudi alliance. This will also provide the US with a stronger bargaining chip in regards to investigating and tracking down extremists within Saudi Arabia as well as with the Saudi's vis-a-vis oil production.Iraq will act as the middle man between these regimes with the US still having considerable influence. Iraq will also fear both parties going at each other over Iraq's borders so they will be firmly in our pockets. Unlike the Bush administration's plan to insure Iraq becomes a strong nation with a strong army that would act as a bulwark against Iran along with Saudi Arabia, the Obama doctrine may be content to allow Iraq to remain relatively weak as a bargaining chip between the Iranians and Saudis.Iran with a nuclear weapon is not necessarily a game changer nor unexpected. At this point, all parties are likely working on the theory that it is inevitable. The only question is how much they can slow down it's advent and prepare for a regional version of Cold War.Now, look at that the same over Afghanistan between iran and Pakistan. They are setting up the great Shia/Sunni split between Iran and Pakistan over Afghanistan. Again, creating tension and the onus for each to want to stabilize the area lest it overflows into their nations. There is also the obvious potential for growth of energy, food and material markets in Afghanistan for both Iran and Pakistan.A nuclear Iran might be considered a positive in the face of a nuclear Pakistan where radical elements are struggling to take over part or all of the nation either through violent over throw or through the democratic process. This sets nuclear Shia Iran against nuclear Sunni Pakistan. Separate, but within play, is nuclear Pakistan and nuclear India. With the recent attack on the Indian embassy in Afghanistan, allegedly assisted by elements of the Pakistani ISI, the real potential for continued instability in that region may actually come from the continuing conflict between Pakistan and India over Kashmir. Pakistan is fearful that it will be surrounded by India on one side and Afghanistan with Indian influence on the other. Any agreements between the US and Iran over stability in Afghanistan may be seen as a further danger to the Pakistani government rather than any positive alleviation of concerns with Indian influence. The potential problems with this is manifold. First, it assumes that allowing Iran to get a nuclear weapon is a matter of time and presents itself only as an either or situation: military action to interdict or allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon and work on detente or containment policy. Regardless of the last five years of continuous denigration of the US efforts in Iraq, the Obama plan will be happy to take over with a relatively stable and democratic Iraq, however weak the current government is or remains. Unfortunately, allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon and developing some form of detente agreement will provide Ahmedinejad credentials for the next election and shore up the Islamist government for decades to come. Obviously, the Democrat plan is opting for stability over any ideological or long term expectations of changing the political or ideological structure of the Middle East. Second, it assumes that Iran is, in fact, a rational actor that is currently faced with multiple internal issues from dissent and from financial difficulties. They will be looking to strengthen their position considerably. The Democrats are assuming that the quad pressure of Israel with nukes, Iran with Nukes, Pakistan with Nukes and India with Nukes will act as some sort of Cold War type deterrence amongst all those who are desirous of surviving. It might even act to solidify the wobbly Pakistani government who will be faced with an enemy on each side and within.Obviously, there are those who are somewhat concerned about Iran as a rational actor or that Pakistan will stabilize and not fall to the radical Islamist elements. Maybe the Obama plan considers this as a positive because then it will change the Islamists from guerrillas with limited assets to lose into a governing body with a country full of assets and everything to lose. In short, give them what they want and make them have to work to keep it. In some regards, the thought process is understandable, but it is a continuation of the idea that all of these groups are either rational actors or will become rational actors once they have something to lose. This also kicks loose of the idea that the US is at war with radical Islam and instead places these elements back within the responsibility of the states that they occupy or come from. The US will remain on a war footing in Afghanistan for sometime, but the onus will be placed back on "police" and "intelligence" activities. This will include additional money and intelligence sharing with the individual nations involved.Finally, even if these entities still go at it with proxies across the middle east, it won't be any different than it has been to date and the US will simply have to work harder on creating a defense at home to keep terrorists out and US interests abroad safe. This places any fear of attack on western allies by a nuclear Iran very low in consideration.However, with nuclear proliferation expanding exponentially, the security of the US may still be in jeopardy. Obama is still talking about cutting missile defense systems, slowing future combat system development and not replacing aging nuclear weapons. The idea of going detente with nuclear enemies and then slowly dismantling US missiles and defense systems seems unnecessarily dangerous. In fact, it is the one concept based on ideology rather than any rational "real politics". It is the idea that the dismantling of the US arms will convince other nations that there is no reason to develop those weapons as a defensive measure. That, above all else, seems to be more about "hope" than based on any actions of these nations to date. In the mean time, Iran tests a new missile that can easily reach Israel and possibly Eastern Europe. Israel and Saudi Arabia seem to be taking choppy, uncoordinated dance steps towards some sort of rapproachment. Both may have felt compelled to make some sort of effort with the potential of a US withdrawal, an Iranian nuclear weapon and Iranian growth of Hezbollah in Lebanon and now in Iraq. Iraq where car bombs and suicide bombers are suddenly becoming the rage again.Obama's strategy may appear fairly workable, but it remains to be seen whether Iraq will remain stable, if Afghanistan can be stabilized, if the Taliban can be brought into some sort of agreement, if Pakistan can remain stable, if Iran is rational, if Hamas or Hezbollah do not decide to attack Israel, if Syria will remain a stabilizing force or be influenced by Iran and on and on and on.

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