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Iraq: A cold, critical view

Here’s a quote from the Stratfor Weekly. Stratfor, the strategy forecasting company run by George Friedman tells it like it is. No propaganda, no ’embedding’, just straight-down-the-line geo-political strategy.

If the Iraq campaign ends as most expect, in a U.S. victory, the
most critical questions will be: What will be the next American
campaign in the war, and when will it happen? There are deep
pressures on the United States to call an extended halt to
operations while it regroups. However, events may not permit
this, and the place to be most concerned about is Iran.

Stratfor continues:

There are wars. There are campaigns. There are battles. Winning
battles is the key to winning campaigns. Winning campaigns is the
key to winning wars. Knowing which you are fighting is the key to
making sense of the situation and planning strategy. If you
confuse winning a battle with winning a war, that could lead to
disaster. So too, confusing a victory in a campaign with a
victory in a war could lead to defeat in the war. Clarity is

The United States is in a war with al Qaeda. The war began on
Sept. 11, 2001. It will conclude when the ability of al Qaeda or
related or follow-on forces, to attack the United States has been
sufficiently diminished that the United States has returned to a
state of relative security — relative, since absolute security
does not exist in this world. The Iraq campaign is not that war.
It is a campaign within that war. It follows a previous campaign
— Afghanistan — and it will be followed by other campaigns.

In other words, Iraq is a means toward an end. It is not an end
in itself. It achieves nothing definitive by itself. Its purpose
is to enable the United States to achieve other ends later, ends
that will bring the nation closer to winning the war — or so
Washington hopes. It is useful to think of Iraq in terms of the
New Guinea campaign of World War II: U.S. and Australian troops
fought there not because of any intrinsic value in New Guinea,
but because of its geographic and strategic value. The New Guinea
campaign helped block a Japanese invasion of Australia and served
as a springboard for later offensives. New Guinea’s value was in
what it made possible later on, not in its intrinsic value. It
was not a war, just a campaign within a war.

Iraq, too, is a campaign within a war. It will not, by itself,
settle anything. Readers of Stratfor know it is our view that the
primary purpose of the Iraq war is to set the stage for
undermining the foundations of al Qaeda in particular and of
radical Islam as an effective paramilitary force in general. The
United States has found it enormously difficult to attack al
Qaeda directly. Mapping out the al Qaeda network — a sparse
global system of operatives — is intrinsically difficult. Taking
effective action against it on a global, retail level has proven
even harder.

It’s going to be a long haul and a hard road for the US and the UK to achieve their objectives in the Middle East.

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  1. Strongly agreed. And I would think attacks on US and UK home turf will be much more likely as this goes on. 🙁

    Also, I don’t envy the Kurds; things are going to be really messy for them in Northern Iraq as this campaign continues, with the US looking for Turkish support in this war and anything that happens against Iran, and Turkey having plans for the Kurds in their own right.

    Very messy….