Saturday, April 21, 2007

Major strategy change in Iraq ignored by major news outlets

I understand the focus on the Virginia Tech shootings, but still, shouldn't a major shift in policy regarding a place where such tragedies occur on a daily basis merit just a little coverage from the country's major news outlets?

Apparently not.

In an outstanding bit of reporting that has been virtually ignored by major news outlets, McClatchy Newspapers reporter Nancy A. Youssef has uncovered a major shift in US strategy in Iraq.

Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.

Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.

Remember BushCorp™'s oft repeated, and repeated, and repeated mantra that "as the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down"? Turns out, not so much.

The story should be read in full, but if you cut through the DoD bureaucratese, the message is this, training Iraqi Security Forces has succeeded only in supplying training to people whose first duty is to their tribes, not their Iraqi government paychecks. And claims to the contrary, the problem is not that the ISF has been "infiltrated" by insurgents. The problem is that in a civil war, the army reflects the divisions inherent in that civil war. No "infiltration" needed. That being the case, the only effective security forces are those supplied by the US.

With Shi'ite militias laying low because of Bush's much ballyhooed escalation surge, US security operations are being directed almost exclusively against Sunni targets.

In effect the Shi'ite dominated National government, Army, and militias are standing aside and letting US soldiers risk, and lose, their lives, fighting their civil war for them.

So here's US strategy:

One State Department official, who also asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject, expressed the same sentiment in blunter terms. "Our strategy now is to basically hold on and wait for the Iraqis to do something," he said.

And since we're fighting this civil war for them, I expect the wait will be a very long one.

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