The Times says that pacifying the capital with the help of the Iraq Army is seen as being essential to establishing the authority of a new government, without which significant withdrawals of U.S. troops cannot take place.
Reporter Sarah Baxter writes that:
Strategic and tactical plans are being laid by U.S. commanders in Iraq and at the U.S. army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, under Lieutenant-General David Petraeus. He is regarded as an innovative officer and was formerly responsible for training Iraqi troops.
The battle for Baghdad is expected to entail a “carrot-and-stick” approach, offering the beleaguered population protection from sectarian violence in exchange for rooting out insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda.
Sources close to the Pentagon said Iraqi forces would take the lead, supported by American air power, special operations, intelligence, embedded officers and back-up troops.
The logic of such an endeavor fails me. Baghdad is lawless only in the sense the different areas are controlled by different sectarian militias. In Sadir City, a vast slum of 2 million people, virtually all services are provided by Shiite mosques and their militias because the occupation has been such a failure.
This failure is because of two fundamental and interlocking mistakes made by the U.S. early on:
The Iraqi Army was completely disbanded and sectarian militias were encouraged. This vested all armed power outside the U.S. military in sectarian hands. That this formula has been a recipe for disaster -- if not outright civil war -- is not surprising, only that it took so long to happen.So the very Iraqis who were dissed by the U.S. in the early days of the occupation are now going to embrace its troops to save them from the very people who are providing them a modicum of protection?
Sounds like a bloody recipe for further disaster to me.