Friday, March 18, 2005

The lessons of Iraq 

At the NRO Corner, an email summarizing the presentation given by an officer from the 1st Cavalry Division about the lessons of Iraq. A sample:

"3. He showed a graph of attacks in Sadr City by month. Last Aug-Sep they were getting up to 160 attacks per week. During the last three months, the graph had flatlined at below 5 to zero per week.

"4. His big point was not that they were 'winning battles' to do this but that cleaning the place up, electricity, sewage, water were the key factors. He said yes they fought but after they started delivering services that the Iraqis in Sadr City had never had, the terrorist recruiting of 15 and 16 year olds came up empty."
As they say, read the whole thing. One point though: Sadr City is the Shia stronghold in Baghdad, and last August was the high-point of the second Muqtada al Sadr uprising. Once the uprising has been crushed by the combination of the American military might and Grand Ayatollah Sistani's refusal to endorse it, the Shias haven't been causing too much trouble for the Coalition. The Sunni Triangle is a somewhat different story; while the combination of armed force against insurgents and the reconstruction work to win hearts and minds is working there too, it is not to the same extent it has had in the Shia areas because the third element - the willingness of the local establishment to keep hotheads in check - hasn't been present in the Sunni areas. Although that's starting to change, too.


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