Fresh from his assertion that the Iraq civil war was “over” a week ago, here’s Fred–plus added bonus attraction Kimberly–Kagan reinforcing their profoundly warped view of Iraq in the Weekly Standard. There are several truly disingenuous, and flat out misleading, things here:
1. The promulgation of the myth that Maliki’s Folly was to clean out “terrorists” rather than a violent election-year ploy to clear out his legitimate Sadrist political opposition.
2. Perpetuation of the myth that effective Iraqi Security Forces actually exist and aren’t primarily composed of (a) pro-Maliki and pro-Hakim militias and (b) former Iraqi soldiers more interested in making a living than in fighting. (Add: No acknowledgment that U.S. troops in the field simply do not trust their Iraqi counterparts…Oh, and I should also add: Some of the most “effective” ISF units are Kurdish pesh merga militias.)
3. Conflation of the “special groups”–trained and supported by the Iranian Qods force–and the Jaish al-Mahdi, which is the main Sadrist Iraqi nationalist militia. Kagan, a military historian, should check with David Petraeus about the relationship of those two separate forces. Indeed, part of Sadr’s cease-fire strategy was allow the U.S. to cleanse Iraq of the “special groups.” Sadr’s no hero, but if he’s a terrorist then so are the majority of Iraqi Shi’ites–i.e. his supporters.
4. No mention at all of the Badr Corps, the pro-Iranian Hakim militia that is Sadr’s main enemy in Basra and Maliki’s best friend. No mention of the widely held belief that the Iraqi Army units in Basra are riddled with Badr militia members.
5. No acknowledgment of the sheer complexity of the situation–the fact that all Shi’ite militias are receiving support from Iran, the fact that Sadr may be the most popular political figure in Shi’ite Iraq, courtesy of his father’s fierce anti-Saddam, anti-Persian nationalism. No acknowledgment that our policy toward the various Shi’ite factions might be more successful if we were as nuanced as the Iranians.
6. It is nice, finally, that Kagan acknowledges there’s a lot we don’t know about the situation in Iraq. Where was that five years–no, actually, one week–ago?
7. On the day that John Yoo’s remarkable torture memo is released, this foolishness is a reminder that none of these people–none of the vicious, mendacious, naive, simplistic, unapologetic, neo-colonialist ideologues who promulgated this disaster–should have even the vaguest claim on the time or tolerance of fair-minded people. Fred Kagan’s certainty is an obscenity, his claim to expertise a farce.
Update: More on what actually may have happened in Basra from Kevin Drum channeling Juan Cole.