Friday, August 24

Europe's new interest in helping Iraq could again put them at loggerheads with US

Last night's Daily Report with Jon Stewart featured an interview with someone in the US military who noted that the fundamental philosophy of the new US counterinsurgency can be summed in three sentences:

"Be polite. Be professional. Be prepared to kill."

Of course we don't want to kill any of our friends in Israel or Europe. But I think the gist of the advice is also good for analysts who support the US effort in Iraq. We should always remember to thank offers of help from governments, but also be prepared to pounce.

It could be argued that the Allies won World War Two because General Eisenhower was good at herding cats. If your idea of a friend is someone who won't pursue their own agenda while throwing in with your lot, then you need to accept the idea that one has no friends in war.

I make that observation to caution that Western Europe's growing interest in helping the US in Iraq does not necessarily translate into doing what the United States wants.

Last week a study published by an influential German policy institute argued that federalism is the only way to keep Iraq a single country. The author wrote:
The basic assumption of this study [...] "is that a federalist solution will be the only possibility to maintain Iraq as a single country. The most important role of German and European policies should therefore be that of supporting steps toward a peaceful federalist solution."
It's noteworthy that Der Spiegel highlighted the study, but Pundita found the Swedish Meatballs Confidential report on the study to be very useful.

If Europe will not support a unitary government, I imagine they don't like Ayad Allawi and his National Project. Allawi has been called Saddam Lite by those who don't like him. Pundita likes Allawi so I don't go that far. But it will take a strongman to create a functioning central government.

And without a central government, I think US troops in Iraq will be put in an untenable position. The German study does not factor in that angle because Germany will not be investing troops in helping the US in Iraq.

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