Forget about the disinformation (to put it mildly), the poor planning, the disregard of the generals who knew. Ignore the stupidity of thinking god was guiding our plan, that by preëmptive invasion we could spread democracy, like bread on the waters, throughout the Middle East. Of all the travesties of the invasion of Iraq, the greatest -- because it foretold the failure from the outset -- was the complete misunderstanding of the religious/tribal dynamics of the place.
BAQUBA, Iraq — Members of United States-allied Awakening Councils have quit or been dismissed from their positions in significant numbers in recent months, prey to an intensive recruitment campaign by the Sunni insurgency, according to government officials, current and former members of the Awakening and insurgents.Although there are no firm figures, security and political officials say hundreds of the well-disciplined fighters — many of whom have gained extensive knowledge about the American military — appear to have rejoined Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Beyond that, officials say that even many of the Awakening fighters still on the Iraqi government payroll, possibly thousands of them, covertly aid the insurgency.The defections have been driven in part by frustration with the Shiite-led government, which Awakening members say is intent on destroying them, as well as by pressure from Al Qaeda. The exodus has accelerated since Iraq’s inconclusive parliamentary elections in March, which have left Sunnis uncertain of retaining what little political influence they have and which appear to have provided Al Qaeda new opportunities to lure back fighters.The Awakening members’ switch in loyalties poses a new threat to Iraq’s tenuous social and political balance during the country’s ongoing political crisis and as the United States military prepares to withdraw next year......“Many of those who called themselves the Awakening felt remorse,” said the man, who used the nom de guerre Abu Mohammed al-Daeni. “They believed they were making a mistake by helping the occupiers and have now returned to Al Qaeda. I can say that the number is increasing every day.”...Muthana al-Tamimi, head of the provincial council’s security committee, said Awakening members were clearly returning to the insurgency, but that Baghdad should share the blame.“The Awakening needs government support,” he said. “They’re not getting it, so they’re an easy bite for terrorists.”
Thomas Ricks, among the most credible writers on Iraq and Afghanistan, has this to say:
It isn't surprising, but it is sad to see. I think it probably was inevitable, given the sectarian Shiite ascendancy and the ultimate victory of Iran in the war, as shown in this Guardian article. (... Maliki is visiting Tehran today. He supposedly also is going to Qom, temporary home of one Moqtada al-Sadr.)
More evidence, I would say, that the surge worked tactically (that is, improved security and so enabled Uncle Sam to edge toward the exits) but failed strategically (that is, didn't lead to a breakthrough in Iraqi politics).
I think the big question is how far the Sunni Awakening reversal will go. Is this the beginning of the next phase of the war? I dunno. And how much will U.S. troops be involved? Again, an open question. I am hearing through the grapevine that things are getting friskier.
It's not about "I told you so," although many people did. It's about the fact that, having made a huge mistake in going there, we now have to admit there's nothing more we can do. The RWS™ will be eager to blame Obama for the inevitable disintegration (although the word implies there was, as some point, integration.) They already are, of course.