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"My gut feeling is that the United States might have successfully intervened to end the slaughter 18 months ago, but by now it's probably too late. The conflict has metastasized: It's no longer a popular revolution against a repressive regime, but a multi-party conflict in which al Qaeda-linked insurgents have gained the upper hand over secular rebel factions, and multiple other states have already been drawn in."
Your gut is mostly wrong here. It always was a multi-party sectarian conflict that included Islamist insurgents. I don't think you can say any rebel faction has really gained an upper hand as the rebels are LOSING. And it would have been no easier to end the conflict 18 months ago than it is today as the army has always been Alawite and the regime's methods for repressing the Sunni majority have made this a blood feud from the start. Both factions know that to lose is to invite a slaughter hence surrender is not an option.
6 months ago on Access denied | Foreign Policy
@kgelner That is a fair criticism. So, what do you think the response should be?
6 months, 1 week ago on Access denied | Foreign Policy
@MohamadSleimanHaidar @MichaelWahrman So you are saying that the atomic bombing helped make it easier for Japan to surrender?
9 months, 1 week ago on Access denied | Foreign Policy
When comparing the results of the Surges in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can only conclude that outside western military powers have limited influence over the course of events in these respective countries. The outcomes will be decided by the people of these nations. We can support them when they make choices that we view as beneficial, but I don't see our capability to drive events.
1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/24/the_iraq_red_team
This is not really new information. The "oil spot" strategy was being discussed publicly back in 2005 by Lt. Col. Andrew Krepinevich (http://www.cfr.org/iraq/win-iraq/p8847). Lt. Wilson St. Pierre describes here (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/61389/wilson-d-stpierre/out-damned-spot) what he sees as the essential flaw:
"This proposal ignores two basic realities. first, Baghdad and Mosul are sprawling cities. Their populations would be very difficult to protect without pulling troops, American or Iraqi, from more contentious parts of Iraq. Second, no matter how many troops we position around Mosul or Baghdad, the insurgents will always find ways to exploit the weak points in our security."
An interesting read is the discussion of "The Surge" about 6 months after it started by PBS's Frontline (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/endgame/themes/surge.html). The interesting thing I note is that there is not one mention by any of their analysts predicting anything that looks like the Sunni Awakening would result from The Surge. It was coincidental, not causal that the Sunni tribal groups rejected foreign and extremist influence as the US increased it's troop numbers. AQI's murder and intimidation campaign on Sunnis angered the Iraqi Sunni's which was the catalyst for the awakening and the "success" of the surge. I'm not sure what role the coalition troops had in this except for the important decision to support and pay for these groups.
1 year, 10 months ago on Offensive Geometry