IRAQ UPDATE: StrategyPage reports:
September 19, 2004: Anti-government forces are desperately trying to shatter the morale of police and reconstruction personnel. But suicide bombing attacks on police facilities, and gun battles against police patrols in Sunni Arab areas have not worked. The police continue to recruit, and police patrols grow larger and more aggressive as they move into Sunni Arab neighborhoods in cities like Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul, and arrest known, or suspected, terrorists and armed anti-government activists. There is less aversion, among the majority of Iraqis, to playing rough with the Sunni Arabs who comprise nearly all the anti-government forces. A growing network of informers in Sunni controlled areas provide targets for daily bombing attacks on buildings the anti-government forces are using. The government has said that it will hold national elections, as scheduled, even if voting is not possible in some Sunni Arab areas. It’s thought that an 80-90 percent vote is better than a delayed vote. This is because a national vote will be concrete proof, to dubious Shia Arab Iraqis, that Saddam is truly gone, even if thousands of Saddam’s thugs are still running around killing people. The vote will also make it clear just how much power the Kurds hold, on a national scale, and get started negotiations to sort out how much autonomy the Kurds will have in a predominately Arab country.
Partial elections, disenfranchising the rebellious? Like Mickey Kaus, I think that’s the right approach. I also think that for the widely-disliked Sunnis to put themselves into this position is extremely unwise. But, then, “extremely unwise” is a pretty good description of their strategic approach all along.
This tidbit is also interesting:
September 19, 2004: The Pakistani army says it has cleared foreign (al Qaeda) fighters from the Pushtun border areas (Waziristan) along the east Afghan border. Some 70 foreigners were killed in a week of operations, plus a dozen or so Pakistani soldiers and civilians. But there are still several hundred foreign fighters still on the lose, mainly men from Chechnya and Central Asia. The army says it knows where these men have fled to, and will move on them next. The border areas north of Waziristan contain Pushtun tribes less receptive to Taliban activities.
Of course, an item beginning “the Pakistani Army says,” is only slightly more reliable than one beginning “CBS News has learned. . . .” And there’s this:
September 19, 2004: Russia is opening a terrorism liaison office in Indonesia. Because of recent terrorist acts in Russia, there is renewed enthusiasm for sharing terrorist information internationally.
I suspect that Russian anti-terror operations will emphasize assassination and covert ops rather than the more straightforward approach that has marked (most) U.S. operations.
Meanwhile, back in Iraq, The Command Post notices that a lot has been going on below the radar. You don’t say.
UPDATE: It’s also worth reading this piece by Thomas Bray: how Europe became a 90 pound weakling.”
In Bosnia, where the French and Germans did collaborate in the sort of coalition Kerry favors, the United States had to deliver an embarrassing 85 percent of the missile strikes because of the primitive condition of the European air forces.
Why is Europe so weak? The trend began well before the end of the Cold War. Increasingly, Europe opted for the free-rider approach, happy to let American taxpayers shoulder the major share of the burden. But Europe’s continuing power-slide strongly suggests there may be an even more fundamental reason for its weakness: the debilitating effect of the vast European welfare state. . . .
A broader European coalition to help out in Iraq? Don’t count on it. There isn’t much that France and Germany could contribute, beyond some marginal peacekeeping forces, even if they wanted to. And they are likely to remain unwilling to do so even if John Kerry is elected.
Europe just doesn’t matter much on the military front. That’s unfortunate.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Who do you believe? Sometimes it’s easy to know, sometimes it’s not.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Carnival of the Liberated, the regular roundup of Iraqi blog posts, has moved. Dean Esmay is hosting it now. Be sure to check it out. It’s not all cheerful by any means, but it’s different from what you hear from Peter Jennings. Much less Dan Rather.
MORE: Daniel Drezner notes that Anthony Cordesmann thinks Bush hasn’t done well, but that Kerry’s approach is vapid.