Sunday, February 20, 2005

Many Partings

Put these together.

Hillary Clinton judges that the Insurgency in Iraq is Failing (hat tip: Austin Bay)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said that much of Iraq was "functioning quite well" and that the rash of suicide attacks was a sign that the insurgency was failing. ... Clinton said the last time she visited Iraq in late 2003, she traveled to the Green Zone by road from the international airport. Today, security is so bad that none of the senators dared drive through Baghdad's streets, even in armored cars. Aside from the Green Zone, their only glimpse of the capital came from the relative safety of U.S. military helicopters that ferried them from the airport. "It's regrettable that the security needs have increased so much. On the other hand, I think you can look at the country as a whole and see that there are many parts of Iraq that are functioning quite well," Clinton said.

Powerline asks: is a Ba'athist surrender in the works? It provides two links. The first, "U.S. in Secret Talks with Iraqi Insurgents" describes alleged negotiations between elements of the Ba'athist insurgency and US officials.

U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq's Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine reported on Sunday, citing Pentagon and other sources.

The magazine cited a secret meeting between two members of the U.S. military and an Iraqi negotiator, a middle-aged former member of Saddam Hussein's regime and the senior representative of what he called the nationalist insurgency.

"We are ready to work with you," the Iraqi negotiator said, according to Time.

Iraqi insurgent leaders not aligned with al Qaeda ally Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi told the magazine several nationalist groups composed of what the Pentagon calls "former regime elements" have become open to negotiating. The insurgents said their aim was to establish a political identity that can represent disenfranchised Sunnis.

The second link, "Sunnis Seek Place in New Iraqi Government" recounts the efforts by Sunni leaders to get on the train as it is leaving the station.

Gathering in a central Baghdad hotel, about 70 tribal leaders from the provinces of Baghdad, Kirkuk, Salaheddin, Diyala, Anbar and Nineveh, tried to devise a strategy for participation in a future government. There was an air of desperation in some quarters of the smoke-filled conference room.

"When we said that we are not going to take part, that didn't mean that we are not going to take part in the political process. We have to take part in the political process and draft the new constitution," said Adnan al-Duleimi, the head of Sunni Endowments in Baghdad.

The available data suggests that the Sunni insurgents are still capable of showing strength within their strongholds and menacing traffic on the Baghdad streets. However, even within their bailiwicks, their capabilities are not decisive. They have been unable to impede or even delay the political goals set by the US as evidenced by their failure to stop the January 30 elections. Moreover, they are unable to project any significant combat power in Shi'ite and Kurdish areas. Faced with the loss of oil revenues, a growing Iraqi security force and the gradual depletion of their stored weapons and suffering a terrible attrition rate their relative power is irretrievably on the wane.

Austin Bay recalls being in a Corps' Joint Operations Center(JOC) during his tour in Iraq and watching the computer display reel out what was effectively a gauge of enemy losses, ticking like a taximeter.

The biggest display, that morning and every morning, was a spooling date-time list describing scores of military and police actions undertaken over the last dozen hours, Examples: "0331: 1/5 Cav, 1st Cavalry Division, arrests two suspects after Iraqi police stop car"; "0335 USMC patrol vicinity Fallujah engaged by RPG, returned fire. No casualties."

The spool went on and on and on, and I remember thinking : "I know we're winning." ... Every day coalition forces were moving thousands of 18-wheelers from Kuwait and Turkey into Iraq, and if the "insurgents" were lucky they blew up one. However, flash the flames of that one diesel rig on CNN and "oh my God, America can't stop these guys" is the impression left in Boston, Boise, and Beijing.

The regular newspapers have in their own way chronicled the insurgency's decline. The new European friendliness towards the Bush administration; Kofi Annan's pitiful attempt to claim credit for the Iraqi elections; America's recent agressiveness towards Syria; Senator Clinton's newfound optimism; the Ba'athist recent despair -- each chronicles after its fashion the story of defeat -- though the reader is left to deduce who is defeated.

It will probably be many months before the insurgency finally flickers out. Attempts will be made to extend its life through negotiations to win breathing space, through renewed and ever more heinous attacks. Unexpected events or a blunder may yet breathe life into it. But for the first time since terrorist warfare was developed and perfected in the Algerian war it has met its match on the battlefield. The vanquishing arms may have been American, but the heart that drove it was in large measure Iraqi.