January 10, 2005
Various Updates and Clarifications
Earlier today, we stated:
We’d like to make a prediction: the United Iraqi Alliance will win the election and ask US troops to speed up their timetable for departure. The US will reduce its presence dramatically, but not its influence, and its involvement in the training of Iraqi security forces will continue apace. Iraq may fail, splitting into three separate “states” but a Shi’ite theocracy will not be one of them.A quick update, lest this be taken for something we didn't intend. We think that Iraq failing and splitting into three states is a possibility, but a remote one. We are actually optimistic for the long run for the state to hold together. Our main point was that we don't expect a Shi'ite theocracy. The Iraqi Shi'ites believe imams belong in mosques, not government. And as has been pointed out much more eloquently elsewhere, nationalism seems to be a stronger force than religion -- which trumps worries of the Iranians having undue influence in the new state. No, we are optimistic.
As to the reader who asked our thoughts on incursions into Syria, discsussed today in Belmont Club: If we're going to do this, small teams would be the way we'd go about it for several reasons:
1. They can operate for weeks independently.
2. With Iraqis joining them, they can blend into the populace, or at least hide themselves more effectively.
3. Why waste time with a long diplomatic gamble to influence the Syrian government to "turn the insurgent leadership over?" Damascus may have little ability to do so anyway.
4. More importantly, loud and public diplomacy gives the bad guys time to move, plot, and counterplot. It absolutely kills any strategic surprise we might have in our attempt to find and kill or capture them. Better if they don't know we're coming. And if we don't want them to know we're coming, best to keep the force that's going small and elite.
Toppling Syria's government doesn't seem nearly as important right now as stopping the insurgents that have sanctuary in its borders.
Who's to say that we haven't culled a few diehards from the ranks of the fledgling Iraqi security forces and turned them into spies, ready and willing to work with our Green Berets inside Syria? If all is as it is reported, an Iraqi passing himself off inside Syria as a sympathizer with the insurgency does not seem farfetched, or even difficult.
An Alert Reader has asked about our use of "we" rather than "I." We got tired of using "I" so much, because it seems so self-centric and the imperial, or editorial, or authorial "we" seemed better -- especially after noticing how James Taranto uses it in "Best of the Web" on Opinionjournal.
The fact that we must use either pronoun is continued proof of our poor writing skills. If readers request, we'll switch back.
The planned post on the Army vs. Rummy has morphed into part one of a series. It's not quite done yet, but will be tonight, so if you're on the east coast, check back in the am.
Posted by Chester at January 10, 2005 11:35 PM
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