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Spengler

Mosul’s Fall the Inevitable Consequence of the ‘Surge’

June 10th, 2014 - 11:39 pm

Four years ago I predicted that the result of America’s apparently successful effort to contain violence in Iraq through the so-called “surge” would be a devastating and uncontrollable civil war in Iraq. I titled the essay “Gen. Petraeus’ Thirty Years War,” arguing that

Petraeus created a balance of power between Sunnis and Shi’ites by reconstructing the former’s fighting capacity, while persuading pro-Iranian militants to bide their time. To achieve this balance of power, though, he built up Sunni military power to the point that – for the first time in Iraq’s history – Sunnis and Shi’ites are capable of fighting a full-dress civil war with professional armed forces.

Gen. David Petraeus, then the American commander in Iraq, quieted the Sunni opposition to the American-backed Shi’ite majority government by giving them money and weapons. By doing so the U.S. rebuilt the Sunni military capability that it had ruined in 2003 when it destroyed the government of Saddam Hussein. With the fighting capacity of the Sunni minority now on par with the Shi’ite-majority government army, as we saw in the fall of Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

I have nothing to add to what I wrote four years ago about the bungling of the Bush administration as compounded by Obama. ┬áThe present disaster in Iraq is not wholly of our making, but American policy was a key enabler. The “surge” made it inevitable. There will be no resolution now without the exhaustion of the contending forces, in a long war of attrition with dreadful consequences for civilians, starting with the 500,000 who fled Mosul this week.

In a broader sense, American bungling set the stage for Syria’s civil war as well. I had the Ghost of Cardinal Richelieu explain why in a 2012 essay:

Richelieu looked at me with what might have been contempt. “It is a simple exercise in logique. You had two Ba’athist states, one in Iraq and one in Syria. Both were ruled by minorities. The Assad family came from the Alawite minority Syria and oppressed the Sunnis, while Saddam Hussein came from the Sunni minority in Iraq and oppressed the Shi’ites.

It is a matter of calculation – what today you would call game theory. If you compose a state from antagonistic elements to begin with, the rulers must come from one of the minorities. All the minorities will then feel safe, and the majority knows that there is a limit to how badly a minority can oppress a majority. That is why the Ba’ath Party regimes in Iraq and Syria – tyrannies founded on the same principle – were mirror images of each other.”

“What happens if the majority rules?,” I asked.

“The moment you introduce majority rule in the tribal world,” the cardinal replied, “you destroy the natural equilibrium of oppression.

“The minorities have no recourse but to fight, perhaps to the death.”

We Republican warhawks wonder why the public abhors us and our own party has rejected us. Our bungling has made a bad situation much, much worse, and the consequences of our ideological rigidity and cultural illiteracy will haunt us for a generation.

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Top Rated Comments   
It was not going into Iraq wherein the mistake was made.

Bush's first mistake was in accepting the lie that Islam is a religion of peace.

Bush's second mistake extended from the second, that a 'religion of peace' would naturally be open to democracy and minority rights.

Bush's third mistake was in underestimating the treasonous mendacity of the democrat party and the MSM.

All of the above led to Bush's actions.

15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have come to believe you have lost your faculties.

This is not the result of the Surge, it is the result of Obama's incompetence in failing to negotiate a SoF treaty, and our subsequent premature withdrawal.

It is like you are claiming we lost Vietnam, when in fact just as this effort was--it was won and abandoned by leftist Democrats.

Nothing you have said is relevant in the light of the facts of our once dominant, successful presence--post Surge--and then our Obama caused pointless absence.

Unless of course, being Spenglerian, you really are enough of a fool to think it's all inevitable. And if so, you are a fool.

Decline is choice, why do you choose it?
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm with your #2.

Arab polities remain universally tribal. (And Islam, being essentially a tribal patriarchy elevated to a religion, reinforces this in Arabs five times a day.)

That tribalism prevents the emergence of any form of government in which you willingly entrust state power over you and yours to people who come from your ancestral tribal enemies.

That, I think, is the test of whether a people or society is capable of self-government. Araby fails it and will continue to fail it so long as Islam remains potent.

As for what the West should have done and still should do, we need to make life exceedingly uncomfortable for the leadership of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan. They are the main sources of jihad's money and ideology (Saudi) and technology (Iran, Pakistan).

More particularly, all of Iran's nuclear capability should be destroyed as soon as possible, whatever the cost to Iranian civilians. For all the obvious reasons, it needs to be the US that destroys it.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (197)
All Comments   (197)
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The Middle East is immoral, corrupt, unethical, unprincipled, and basically UN-civilizable and incompatible with any civilization.

There is only 1 solution for the victims of the fraud.

gator1 and PubulisII are on the right track.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
The mistake was our original response to 9-11. We should have simply declared 3000 dead Americans was de facto a use of WMD and acted accordingly. A sustained tactical nuclear bombardment using all elements of our nuclear triad, 10-15 20 kt weapons on the Tora Bora region would have put Islam on notice as to who the "strong horse" in the race was once and for all. I suspect after the kleptocrats and sociopaths that make up the majority of the regions ruling class changed underwear, Islamofascist terrorism would become a true resume killer. As a bonus the sight of Chirac's head exploding....PRICELESS
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Those of us who came to PJ Media by way of Roger Simon's original blog will remember well Omar and Mohammed Fadhil who blogged as Iraq the Model. I had the opportunity to meet the brothers when they toured the US and for me they symbolized the ordinary Iraqi who yearned for peace and prosperity and the right of self-determination just like people do everywhere.

There's a video still available at YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjEHMVvYbQc) compiled from stills of Iraqis voting in their first election since the fall of Saddam Hussein and their first free and democratic election ever. The images of these ordinary people, who walked for miles to get to the polls under great threat, waiting patiently for hours in the hot sun, casting their ballots in makeshift, cardboard box booths, proudly displaying their purple fingers all under the watchful eyes of American soldiers still moves me to tears and my heart aches for them.

I feel that if we had left an after-action force in Iraq, they could have quelled this terrorist uprising. The Iraqi army and parliament may tremble before the SISI insurgents, but they would have been no match for the American military. At this point, all that's missing is helicopters air-lifting Americans from rooftops as Iraqis desperately cling to the landing skids. Meanwhile, our president has gone to Palm Springs to play golf.

I supported the invasion of Iraq, the overthrow of Hussein and his evil, psychotic spawn and the surge and I would do it all over again. Our late, great friend Christopher Hitchens did not believe in God but he did believe that every single one of us is entitled to basic human rights. He believed that nations like the US and UK have a moral responsibility and obligation to liberate people from oppression. I'm far too pragmatic to endorse such a belief considering the action it would require, but I do admire it. I admire it very much.

I guess, Mr. Goldman, what it boils down to is I'm just not in the mood to listen to a chorus of toldja so's.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Every single one of us is entitled to basic human rights", provided they believe
"every single one of us is entitled to basic human rights", but wouldn't that exclude billions of people?
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Especially when they are correct by the ill luck the country's had in Obama, and not by the virtue of their own perspicacity.

What do you still have faith in, Spengler, that's good?
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
I supported the invasion of Iraq, too, but not the nation-building idiocy that followed. America's problem in Western Asia is managing the terminal decline of Islamic civilization: it is an unromantic, unrewarding exercise in damage limitation. Our problem in East Asia is the rise of a power that is close to competing with us technologically (although thankfully not there yet). We should have spent most of the $1 trillion we poured down the sinkhole in Western Asia on top of the line military and dual-use R&D and made clear to the world that no-one can compete with us. Now, sadly, they are close to doing so. Otherwise we should have neutralized Iran with air power, backed the Egyptian army as a stabilizing force, supported an independent Kurdistan, and numerous other low-cost moves.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Goldman,
Your assumption appears to be that "if only" the US had "done something else" or "will do something more," this would prevent the Arabs and Muslims from trying to oppress and slaughter other Arabs and Muslims.
I do not understand why you believe this.
To use your examples -
What historical evidence is there that Iran could be "neutralized with air power?" Please correct me if I am wrong, but the only historical examples of the US being able to "neutralize" any Power on any permanent basis is if we first destroy the nation and particularly ALL of their leaders.
The Egyptian army is currently "stabilizing" Egypt. They are doing so by being as brutal as possible (far more brutal than Mubarak) in oppressing and killing all opposition. What are the indicators that this is a permanent solution and that Egypt will not "rise up" once more in an even more radical and deadly manner than just occurred with their version of the "Arab Winter?"
What benefit is there in the US supporting "an independent Kurdistan" when that particular pipe dream will never come to fruition unless Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran ALL agree to lose part of their various territories? It would probably be in the best interests of the US to support the Kurds conquering and killing Iraqis but - that's not going to happen either.
The bottom line is that these various factions and sects of Arabs and Muslims have been slaughtering each other for the last 100 yeas and will continue doing so unless we agree to support some brutal monarchy or military dictatorship that will freely destroy any and all who oppose them - in essence, we have to support the new "Unrighteous" Caliphate.
Barring that, based on history, why shouldn't we expect Arabs and/or Muslims to decimate large portions of planet Earth and kill billions in the relatively near future?
I don't understand how Bush's and Obama's flawed policies can be blamed for the ongoing, over 100 year old, Great Arab and Muslim Sectarian Civil World War.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Please.

A fleet we make clear is so spiffy we will not risk it even for the greatest of advantage in one of the longest running strategic conflicts in human history--Islam vs. everyone else...


...That fleet is one we essentially don't have. It is perceived as a strategic nullity. We may as well build up a whole lot of nukes and a multitude of delivery systems, have no conventional forces, and then try to wait the world out.

And then, following such a course, then wonder why we have become impoverished.

Iraq is falling now, not because of a balance of terror we upset, but because we upset it and did not follow through on a better balance entire. Following through on that initial effort would have driven a stake into Islam.

Those who are now Islamic would have quartered the corpse and buried it upside down at differing crossroads on their own--and maybe in my lifetime--had we but been that minimally wise.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
The surge worked while it lasted, which was approximately 2 years, because elections have consequences, because Obama made it clear that he would rather withdraw troops than stabilize a nation. We left a similar security vacuum in Libya and we've been seeing those repercussions since Benghazi.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wait. We first went into Iraq for what, exactly? Oh, that's right... "regime change".

Go in, get Saddam, get out. Six weeks, Mission Accomplished.

Everything after that was a quagmire of the left's own making.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
THIS IS TOO FUNNY

Predicting catastrophe Obama opposed the Bush/Patraeus surge in Iraq which succeeded in defeating al Qaida and brought relative stability, order and peace to that country. Then claiming that the surge's gains were his achievement Obama announces mission accomplished and withdraws US forces from Iraq predicting a bright and prosperous future for that country . Now that Obama once again is proven wrong and al-Qaida (which was "decimated") is reducing Iraq into chaos it's everybody's fault but his own.

Truth is Barack Obama's feckless leadership, and the universal perception of America's economic, military and geostrategic decline and retreat from the world, has become al-Qaida's NUMBER ONE RECRUITMENT TOOL, and is a huge factor in its astonishing Obama era success.

Now that Iraq is in chaos does Hillary Clinton have a realistic chance of being President?

Click www.apollospeaks.com for the realistic answer.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sigh. If only we had supported the good Shah instead of the Saudi royal sons.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
boff, Richelieu is such a referrence these days

but he would never have embarqued into your Irak trip, which BTW was also Chirac opinion

Saddam was the lesser evil solution for Irak,

you Emricans, thought that you were cleverer than the Europeans, live with your mess


15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Much cleverer Europeans once thought Vichy to be the lesser evil solution for France.

...not much has changed...
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
contrary to what you think, or rather to what you were tought, Petain wasn't the worst, at least for the French, he made sure that the french soldiers would not join the Wehrmacht and or the waffen SS, he made sure (as a former Embassador in Spain) that Franco refused Hitler army to cross Spain for going to gibraltar, he managed that low percentages of the French Jews were deported... and in any case he was chosen by Hitler and Mussolini, because he was seen as french WW1 hero, so the French wouldn't contest this choice too soon, because there was the french Empire, and that these two fashist leaders were in a hurry to fight the Commies, without Petain the war would have lasted some more years, that would also have delocated in African french colonies
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Liar.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
fool ignoraminus
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
The proper response to Putin's adventurism in the Ukraine (and in Syria, and in Venezuela, and on, and on) is the reformation of the Warsaw Pact, including Kiev and other former Soviet Republics who want the former condition to persist indefinitely, under America arms and tutelage, the lot facing East. Russia has no legitimate security concerns outside her western borders at this time, and if she insists on acting to the contrary, we may as well give her something to worry about closer to home than Damascus. It's the best way to distract her from Dascus, Tehran, or Baghdad.

The Russians do love their children too, and they will not choose to be glass for the sake of Putin's pride...

...Siberia for that matter is not likely to choose to be Chinese for sake of Moscow's pride.

There's an opportunity there.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're not going to get many Europeans to take you up on this. The Germans in particular have already cut their deal, as Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroeder will be glad to tell you. Or were you relying on M. Hollande? This is a fantasy.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
blah blah

you are a dying fashist country

your toilet paper that is the dollar will be worth nothing soon
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, Marie, manger la merde why dontcha.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
no, justement, I don't want to eat yours
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, that's all of Europe you're describing.

Long before the US Dollar fades from history, France will be in is 10th or 15th Republic--never having figured out where it went wrong with the first one.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
The ruble has no more value than does Putin have a perpetual ability to distract and bully.

There's far more ruin left in the American nation than there is in a Euro of negative interest rates or than is left in Russia.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Goldman takes no a priori more seriously, these last several months, than the sin of assumed hopelessness.

All those praising his supposed wisdom seem not to consider, he observes only the negative side of the equation, and he never takes into account what might have been done better to bring about an Iraqi result more to our liking--primarily occupying the place for long enough to do some good, something like a generation's time. We have in our best precepts the better match to what is universal in human nature, and such a much better match than what the Mohammedans hold dear, that what we have done in leaving Iraq to dissolution, is nothing less than failing to carpe jugulum.

The mistake is a tragedy, but the mistake is not the Surge, but the abandonment of it's results.

Do you need reminding of what nation is to the South of Iraq, and how a fulsome success of ours there, if it took 70 years, would be seizing the jugular of our enemy?

Yes, he has lost his faculties.

Or most of them.

A pity, he retains hopelessness in full measure.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
I highly recommend you run for office on a campaign plank of invading and occupying various hellholes in the Middle East for "generations, if need be" - meanwhile our soldiers serve as effective training aids for Jihadi cadets looking to earn their first installment on their 78 virgins. I'm sure you'll win in a landslide!

Meanwhile, the other 95% of Americans who think there are better things for our young people to do - like, create an economy with enough new jobs so they can serve productive and happy lives without being blown to bits by Iranian-made IEDs - will probably vote for a different candidate, for whatever.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Can you help yourself but to tell lies?

You do know the casualty rate had fallen to 0/month, right?

That there's no reason to think it would have gone up again if we'd simply had competent enough leadership to stay?

Of course unlike you RINOs, I think the American public can handle the truth. You seem not to even want them to hear it.

It's also possible, of course, that you don't even know it.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
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