The New Contours of American Militarism
David Ignatius of the Washington Post has a column on Tuesday concerning US options in Iraq. He reports three scenarios from Washington insiders:
1) reduce the number of US troops in hopes that the Sunni Arabs will accommodate themselves to the new Shiite-dominated government, and vice versa;
2) Go on fighting the insurgency in the Sunni heartland while doing reconstruction work in the calmer Shiite south and Kurdish north;
3) Mount a massive and brutal counter-insurgency campaign against the Sunni Arab guerrillas, rather on the model of what the military government did against its Muslim radicals in the 1990s. Ignatius urges the employment of Iraqi forces in this campaign rather than American ones.
One problem with the “special operations” (some would say “death squad”) scenario is that it is most likely that these pro-US units would largely be recruited from among Kurds and Shiites, and if they were deployed mainly against Sunni guerrillas, it would have the effect of raising ethnic tensions. Iraq is not El Salvador. Of course, as Ignatius recognizes, the other problem is that it raises thorny ethical problems and questions about what Americans stand for.
“The Iraq Syndrome”, a growing phenomenon and legacy of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, perhaps inclines the American public more toward finding an exit strategy than toward an intensified, brutal 9-year-long counter-insurgency effort.
The increasingly praetorian character of American responses to crises is underlined in an elegiac article by Tom Engelhardt.