Originally Posted by Professor
... The problem Bot is how do you tell these people that after we have shown our cards? Do you think we are credible?
To continue your analogy, get a new deck and a new dealer and deal new hands.
That does not guarantee success, NOTHING guarantees success. The only thing that can be absolutely, perfectly guaranteed is failure.
So here's how I see the strategy emerging.
#1 Suppress the Shiite militias. First, this strengthens the hands of the secular Shiites in government since the Shiite militias are all (AFAIK
) run by mullahs. Second, it reassures the Sunni minority that coalition power is not in the service of the Shiites but is in the service of secular government.
#2 Protect Shiites and Sunnis who live in neighborhoods dominated by the opposing faction. The Iraqis themselves have been living in relative peace among the various ethnic and religious factions for hundreds of years. Under the Ottoman's, they various majorities in the different districts were largely left alone to govern under the generally benevolent rule of the Ottomans. The various majorities did NOT oppress their minority neighbors. The Iraqis themselves know this about their own history.
Saddam used his particular tribal affiliation (Sunni, Arab, Tikriti) to run the Baathist Party and military and police. This was a radical change from both the Ottoman's and the British and the short-lived governments in between. Saddam's dictatorship, through his tribal affiliation, began driving wedges where there had been none previously. Saddam's extraordinary brutal abuse of Shiite soldiers in his disastrous war with Iran, even without Saddam's oppression of civilian Shiites, would have been reason enough for the Shiites to hate Sadaam and his Tikriti allies. With the addition of the horror of his civilian oppression, Saddam loaded the Shiites with extreme hatred of Baathists, Sunni's and especially Tikriti's.
This is the source of the hatred of Shiites for Sunnis in Iraq. Iran, just like the foreign Sunni fighters, is using the religion as a vehicle to drive Saddam's wedge even deeper between the Iraqis. That is why both sides are so busy murdering peacemakers within their own sects and of course, in the opposition sect. The only way to heal this almost intractable problem is by strengthening secularism and protecting the religious factions that want peace.
#3 Improve the fighting capability, discipline and civilian authority over Iraq's military and police. the people do not trust the Iraqi police or military at this time. The Sunni's don't trust them because quite frankly, a lot of the Shiite members have used their power to exact revenge on the Sunnis and to conduct awful criminal acts against them. The Shiites don't trust them because they see that they are ineffective against the militias. The militias increase tribalism, not nationalism.
#4 Increase the power of the secular Iraqi government. Right now the government is all fucked-up. It cannot break free of it's mullah masters and it can't break free of coalition forces that don't trust it. The result is a free-for-all of unelected power centers and political and civil corruption. So why increase the secular government's power? So that the elected leaders will have the power to run the government. Elected leaders maybe corrupt to some degree, but in free elections, they have to be careful or they will loose power. Also, they have to look effective at running government. And trustworthy. This is why reformers always have a chance to get elected. By empowering reformers in Iraq, reform can happen.
#5 Give the government and people of Iraq some breathing room to consolidate their society. It is all fucked-up right now. If we leave before the Iraqis consolidate Iraq will get even more fucked-up and with a great likelihood of invasion by Turkey, Iran and jihadi Sunni's who see the Shiite expansion as a direct threat.
Will it work? I don't know. I sure as heck hope so. I guarantee this, if we don't try then we will fail utterly.