Off to war
WaPo/ABC Poll: Majority Of Americans Now Against Afghan War

Calm Down, Ed

Captain Ed Morrissey worries that Iraq has "gone wrong in a hurry."

No, it hasn't.  Remember what we said when I came home from Iraq at the end of June, when I wrote:

"Will it work?"

No.  The ISF know what they have to do, but they don't want to do it yet.  They're a proud people, and though they've been well-trained, they believe they know their country better than we do.  So, they're going to be bullheaded at first, which will leave seams that AQI and others will exploit.

That means you should expect to see a spike in mass casualty attacks for a while.

"So this is all doomed?"

Not exactly.  The fact is that only the Iraqis themselves can "win" the counterinsurgency campaign.  We've taught them the techniques, but now they have to decide to do it. 

They need to fail to learn -- Thomas Barnett once said that our own army only learns when it fails, and that may well be true of any large organization.  Plus, whereas the IA are Shi'a-led, the NP are the only part of the apparatus that wasn't de-Baathified -- which means they need to learn to work together, and are likely to do it only under fire.

Expect to see them fail, because they have to fail to get over the next step.  The thing to watch is whether they learn.  They know what they have to do; the time has come to see if they will do it. 

The problem here is that the Iraqi military is trying to do things its own way.  That includes things like static checkpoints, rather than the dynamic ones we prefer.  Their attachment to their preferred methods means that there are gaps to exploit.  They have been taught our way, and prefer their own; so, they needed to take the hit. 

Now they know why we do it the other way.  It's not because we're gluttons for the extra work.

Two weeks ago, at the Hall, I mentioned that I was surprised we hadn't seen the expected wave of violence yet.

Things in Iraq seem to be going better than I'd expected. The death rate has declined since the handover of the cities to Iraqi control, although that may be temporary. It would be wise of an insurgent group to take a low-level approach until they're familiar with the ISF's new procedures. I still expect to see some high-profile attacks exploiting those weaknesses once the various insurgents feel they understand the new lay of the land.

Well, here it is.  It's been clear that it was coming.  No one should be surprised to see it now.

The key thing to watch is whether the ISF is now ready to change.  If they start adopting the best practices they've already been taught, this should be short, and there will be a happy ending.  If not, then not, but it's on them.

It's their country.  The time has to come when it's on them.  If they want more help, we're still there.  The key thing, though, is that they know what they have to do.  They just have to decide.