Will Iraqi democracy be 2010’s big success story? Visiting Anbar province several weeks ago and listening to the governor of Ramadi talk about his big development plans, I found myself wondering if maybe the cruel Iraq story might have a happy ending after all. This was the province where al-Qaeda declared its first emirate, just a few years ago, and now the governor is handing out a special Financial Times report on business opportunities there.
When I meet Iraqis these days, they all want to talk politics: Which party is ahead in the March parliamentary elections? Can Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani or Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi unseat the incumbent prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki? It’s the kind of freewheeling political debate you can’t find anywhere else in the Arab world. I want to believe it’s real, even as the terrorist bombs continue to explode in Baghdad and other cities.
Phi Beta Iota: Although pedestrian and myopic in the extreme, courtier Ignatius provides one nugget on Iraq that is repeated above. Despite huge mistakes at home (elective war based on 935 lies to the public, Congress believing Wolfowitz instead of Shinseki) and major opposition in theater (Syria, Iran), Iraq is on the verge of being a success story. Here are the three things NOT happening in Iraq that need to be ramped up from January 2010:
1) Information Operations (IO) getting every success story into the news. Right now all we see in a thin stream of US Army press releases and US military base newspapers. This is not just pathetic, it is a self-inflicted wound.
2) US Whole of Government Operations that are finely calibrated to deliver the maximum amount of peace goods in the shortest possible time. March-July should see us FLOOD Iraq with all the stuff that should have been done during the Golden Hour. Ideally 80% of the money should be spent LOCALLY, not on fat-cat beltway bandit perks.
3) Multinational Engagement with a special focus on Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey providing “neutral” Muslim engineers, while Saudi Arabia pays the bill but is not allowed to send any of its demonizers into the country. Using the Strategic Analytic Model and approaching all of Iraq as a test-bed for a new form of multinational effort guided by a Global Range of Needs Table down to the household level, with every gift (cause and effect) visible online, could create a new Gold Standard for multinational harmonized peaceful preventive and stabilziation measures.
Phi Beta Iota: We take everything with some skepticism. We are quite certain that 95% or more of the U.S. officers training Indonesian military and police personnel had no intention of enabling the atrocities that came later–the problem–as we personally experienced in Central America–is when the 1% to 5%, including personal emissaries from the White House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Central Intelligence Agency all say that there will be no U.S. retribution or blow-back from committing atrocities using US training, equipment, and forms of organization intended to counter bona-fide subversion. Hence, one bad apple rots the entire barrel of good apples.
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1. Sunnis everywhere, Shi’ites in the minority and severely persecuted to the point of genocide. Note: the rough estimate of Shi’ites is 10-13% of the total, the bulk of them in Iran and southern Iraq.
2. Vulernability of Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar) to encroachment.
3. The lack of religious counterintelligence and security campaign plans in any country, not just in relation to Muslims, but also dual Israeli citizens, Opus Dei, Mormons, etcetera. As states fail, so do loyalties. In our view, the terrorist-criminal nexus will be followed by the religious-criminal nexus. This makes poverty in predominantly Muslim areas the number one flash point for the future of global stability, in our view.