Friday, February 29th, 2008 | Author:

This article in Rolling Stone has me sitting here with my mouth hanging open. The short and sweet version? If you can’t beat ‘em, pay ‘em! That’s right, folks. This is our new Iraq strategy. The US military is paying and arming the very people who were shooting at us a few months ago. Here are a few quotes:

To engineer a fragile peace, the U.S. military has created and backed dozens of new Sunni militias, which now operate beyond the control of Iraq’s central government. The Americans call the units by a variety of euphemisms: Iraqi Security Volunteers(ISVs), neighborhood watch groups, Concerned Local Citizens, Critical Infrastructure Security. The militias prefer a simpler and more dramatic name: They call themselves Sahwa, or “the Awakening.”

The American forces responsible for overseeing “volunteer” militias like Osama’s have no illusions about their loyalty. “The only reason anything works or anybody deals with us is because we give them money,” says a young Army intelligence officer.


All told, the U.S. is now backing more than 600,000 Iraqi men in the security sector — more than half the number Saddam had at the height of his power. With the ISVs in place, the Americans are now arming both sides in the civil war. “Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems,” as U.S. strategists like to say. David Kilcullen, the counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. Petraeus, calls it “balancing competing armed interest groups.”

There is little doubt what will happen when the massive influx of American money stops: Unless the new Iraqi state continues to operate as a vast bribing machine, the insurgent Sunnis who have joined the new militias will likely revert to fighting the ruling Shiites, who still refuse to share power.

I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out a reason for this policy – other than to let Bush say he won – and I can’t. So I’ll just go try to find my jaw … it’s on the floor here someplace.

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Category: Bush, Iraq
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