Sunday, July 19, 2009

Heart-Broke (Hard-broke?) in Baghdad

This article from the Washington Post articulates the frustrations of senior commanders over the apparently shifting definitions of the tenets of the US/Iraqi security agreement. A classic example of an overly optimistic COA making ballistic contact with the cruel, real world. I guess Mosul isn't the only place where the Coalition feels like it had the rug jerked out from under its feet.
What flummoxes me, though, is the fact that no one saw this coming, or had detailed talks/planning sessions beforehand to "set conditions," or had bolstering, written, detailed agreements under the Security Agreement umbrella.
The catch phrase--dare I say, talking point--has been that the Iraqis don't like us, but they trust us. Well, they trust us to be predictable and to try to act like honest brokers. So who thought Iraqis want honest brokers? They want us to get out of the way so that they can roll up their sleeves (in a "get ready for a donnybrook" way vice a "let's get to work" way) and get their formal and informal power relationships established and settled. All of the power relationships within and between sects, tribes, clans, security forces, political parties, ethnic groups etc. are still nascent because the "honest brokers" have been there preventing the Iraqis from sorting things out "the Iraqi way." Now, they are getting ready to begin getting to it. We apparently aren't invited to the ball.
UPDATE: Just read the review for Steven Metz's Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy in SWJ. The reviewer states "Metz concludes that the United States has a long-standing, continuing problem 'developing sound assumptions when the opponent operates within a different psychological and cultural framework'.” Well duh...

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