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Monday, January 15, 2007

(CHICAGO)(January 15, 2007) Why is Bush gambling his presidency on plans for a "surge" of American forces in Baghdad? Bush's Last Stand?
On December 13th I reported that the "surge" story had been dropped in my lap in September, and I had fumbled the ball. No more. The inside exclusives to keep coming, and now we are churning them out on time.
There is a secret story behind the surge. Bush is not turning Baghdad over to his critics easily. President Bush is not a man that likes to be embarrassed, or second-guessed. But he has had to eat a double helping of humble pie.
Policy in Baghdad is being turned over to Ryan Crocker, an opponent of Paul Bremer's catastrophic Coalition Provisional Authority. Military control is going to General David Petraeus, a critic of our initial tactics early in Iraq and an early arrival at the altar of the theory and practice of revolutionary war. The Washington Post made clear on January 14 that control over Iraqi operations is rapidly passing to people within the government and military who were opponents of Paul Bremer and the prevailing approach to Iraq in 2003.
President Bush is not doing all of this because he enjoys going on national television and admitting mistakes or conceding errors were made. He is making these changes under de facto orders (see Part II, tomorrow). He further confirmed his ultimate goal when he stated on CBS' 60 Minutes that he was branding Moktada al-Sadr an enemy of the United States.
Ultimately, Bush has been forced to confront the racism and contempt that his administration have held Arabs and the Middle East. Their political doctrines began and ended with Israel and Ariel Sharon. The Israelis have contempt for Arabs; Bush & Co. shared that arrogance and disdain. Now, finally and desperately, as Bush makes a final effort to rescue himself, he is putting people in power in the U.S. country team who respect the Arab world and are comfortable dealing with Iraqis and Arabs generally.
It is crucial to realize the "surge" did not originate in November, or in December, or after any policy review by President Bush. The surge has been in the planning stages for months. Indeed, the term "surge" is itself a McGuffin, a dramatic device used to shift attention from the real theme of a drama.
What is the ultimate goal of the surge? To deploy U. S. forces across Baghdad so that if a coup is necessary to remove the current prime minister and place a hard line leader in control, the military will have been "embedded" long in advance.
Why does a coup figure in all of this planning? Because even opponents of President Bush recognize that an American humiliation in Iraq and ignominious withdrawal will doom U.S. foreign policy for a generation. That is why Senator Joe Biden's slapdash attacks on boarding the "last helicopter to leave the Green Zone" are so despicable. Even consistent opponents of the war such as myself recognize that Bush & Co. have created such a mess that we cannot allow them to founder into final and complete failure.
Planning for a coup has long been on the periphery of U. S. policy. We have continued the pretense of "Iraqi democracy" long after the term became laughable. But because a military coup in Iraq, to place an independent secular Shiite in control, is distasteful to the political establishment in Washington the plan has been disguised as "ramping up" for expanded operations.
A coup may be the only way to assert reason and reality in Iraq. In 2004, when he made a show of returning Iraqi sovereignty, Bush was on a political timetable. He wanted the job done before the November election. The turnover was hurried, and we have been paying the price since then. Now Bush is on a legacy timetable. He has one last, desperate chance to salvage a small part of his place in history by bringing his chaotic campaign up to breakeven.
Ironically, Prime Minister al-Maliki knows exactly what is going on, as do his political coterie. But they are powerless to protest, suspended in a twilight zone and no man's land between Shiite extremists and the Bush administration. That's why they have been both powerless to stop the surge and cognizant of what it means for them: potential extinction.
Shiites have always been cautious because while the U. S. "freed" Iraq in 2004 we kept control of the defense ministry and military apparatus.
How would a coup operate? First, U. S. units are being
paired with Iraqi units. They will start developing cohesion and loyalty. Thousands of new translators are on the way from the U. S. Second, we are embedding advisors with units right down to the company level.
U. S. forces and military manuals continue to refer to "counterinsurgency," a term that in the early 1960's was abbreviated as "COIN." But what we are experiencing in Iraq is "Revolutionary War," a term first used by my mentor Professor Bernard Fall during the Viet-Nam era. Today the United States is finally realizing it faces revolutionary war conditions across the Middle East.
Because few persons today have a military background, and few have served with or in the military, we generally fail to understand military loyalty, ethos and constancy. One of the tactics of waging revolutionary war, or counterinsurgency, is to establish genuine bonds between the men and women on the front lines. Our policy in 2003 was to avoid such contacts and such closeness.
Soldiers are loyal, first to each other, and second to other soldiers, even opponents. That’s why if we had ordered the Iraqi Army to report for duty in 2003, uniforms pressed, shoes shined, soldiers would have reported and saluted, and likely helped us prevent the insurgency. Instead, we alienated the Iraqi army.
For myself, I helped an old soldier who had served with the Iraqi Army under British officers, and who wanted to visit his family in Toronto. I went to the U.K. Embassy to help him with his efforts. He understood that we shared a mutual loyalty.
If General Petraeus is smart, and I am sure he is, Iraqi units will soon see new equipment, clean uniforms, more food and generally better treatment than they have received in the past. Unit morale must be enhanced before soldiers can be trusted to follow orders.
The aftermath of a coup: a new "revolutionary government" would return to power many of the original players in the Iraqi Governing Council who were pushed aside in the rush to hold elections and kowtow to Shiite extremists.
The pieces are rapidly being put in place for a coup. The Shiites see what is happening. It may not be evident in Washington or Chicago, but it is clearly obvious in Baghdad. Either al-Maliki brings Bush the head of Moktada al-Sadr or Maliki is history and a new Iraqi government will be placed in power through a joint U. S./Iraqi Army coup.
You read it first at, from inside the Bush White House.
________________________________________________Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of © Copyright by Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers national and world politics with forty years of personal experience; he is America’s most respected independent foreign policy, military and intelligence analyst. Andy is a Middle East expert who is Executive Director of the Revolutionary War Research Center, the original consortium devoted to counterinsurgency, guerilla war and political insurrection. He has spent 36 years in and out of the Middle East and spent much of 2003 in Iraq. Columns also posted at;; Comments? E-mail: Media contact: (866) 706-2639


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