May 06, 2007

Signs for Winning Iraq

Irrespective of what your opinion is on the current state of affairs in Iraq, there should be no difference on what the signs are that we are on the road to victory. The ultimate end-state is that Iraq has built up a set of organizations that are sufficient to handle its political, economic, and security needs.

Let's take the easy ones first. Politically, they need their own constitution (check) with sufficient buy-in from the populace (referendum, check) and politicians that have a measure of legitimacy (elections, check) that can form a durable political class that does not resort to violence (needs work but better than two years ago). The sorting mechanism of time and political maneuvering will supply Iraq with a steady stream of better politicians and there's no way to advance more rapidly up the experience curve than 1 second per second.

Economically, the economy's booming so it is prima facie obvious that despite the crumbling infrastructure of Saddam and the blown up infrastructure of present security difficulties, something's going right. Aside from dividing up petroleum so that it does not curse the political system (which seems to be progressing smartly in the form of a new petroleum law) the major impediment to economic progress is security. This brings us to the most controversial of the signs, the security situation

Iraq's security situation is complex, to say the least. But any fair minded observer should agree that if the locals at any level (district, town, province or the entire country) can handle the security challenge, this is a sign of victory. Another sign would be if we are only needed as a tripwire force, such as we supply in Sinai, S. Korea, and lots of other places. In 4 entire provinces in the Shia dominated south and innumerable subdivisions there and elsewhere, we've turned over the security situation over to the locals. In 3 other provinces in the Kurdish north, their greatest security worry is foreign incursion from Iran and Turkey (but mostly Turkey). Those 3 provinces are nothing to worry about either.

Another sign of victory is where local institutions that had been hostile to us turn friendly (such as Anbar's tribes who are now fighting Al Queda instead of helping it and funneling in their own young men into the local police and army). A related sign is the creation of new institutions such as the new joint Sunni-Shia Bolster Dialah organization.

Is there a map out there of all the jurisdictions that have been turned over to local control? A time sequence of hand-overs nationwide would be a powerful objective indicator of the true security situation in Iraq. It's dumbfounding to me that there doesn't seem to be an easily accessible one around.

Posted by TMLutas at May 6, 2007 08:53 AM