The Corner

Jim Robbins Sends This…

Rich, one problem with Krepinevich’s model is his identification of the centers of gravity, particularly “the Iraqi people.” There is no such thing — there are a variety of competing interests, tribal, ethnic, religious and others. The insurgents — who are also a multifaceted group — are also a minority group. They can only take power by promoting divisions in Iraq and then exploiting the gaps. Were we to withdraw today the insurgents would not take power, local militias would arm themselves (more than they have already) and begin securing their various interests. In other words it is not an either-or for Iraqis, the regime or the insurgents. There are a variety of other outcomes. Presuming this dichotomy causes the analysis to overlook many salient details that are important to our counter-insurgency effort. I am interested particularly in exploiting the seams within the insurgency and the various disaffected groups. Just today there was a good example of how the get the job done in Iraq. The pro-government Bumahl tribe fought it out with the pro-insurgent Karabilah tribe, with the US providing air support for the Bumahli. I noted this trend towards infighting last week in NRO. As we proved in Afghanistan, tribal groups on the ground plus US fire support is a useful model for success in unconventional warfare. Let’s hope we see more of it.

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