Without prejudging whether President Bush’s “surge” policy will work, the administration and its critics ought to be seriously thinking about a Plan B, the “80 percent solution” – also known as “winning dirty.” Right now, the administration is committed to building a unified, reconciled, multisectarian Iraq – “winning clean.” Most Democrats say that’s what they want, too. But it may not be possible.
The 80 percent alternative involves accepting rule by Shiites and Kurds, allowing them to violently suppress Sunni resistance and making sure that Shiites friendly to the United States emerge victorious.
No one has publicly advocated this Plan B, and I know of only one Member of Congress who backs it – and he wants to stay anonymous. But he argues persuasively that it’s the best alternative available if Bush’s surge fails. Winning will be dirty because it will allow the Shiite-dominated Iraqi military and some Shiite militias to decimate the Sunni insurgency. There likely will be ethnic cleansing, atrocities against civilians and massive refugee flows.
On the other hand, as Bush’s critics point out, bloody civil war is the reality in Iraq right now. U.S. troops are standing in the middle of it and so far cannot stop either Shiites from killing Sunnis or Sunnis from killing Shiites.
Winning dirty would involve taking sides in the civil war – backing the Shiite-dominated elected government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ensuring that he and his allies prevail over both the Sunni insurgency and his Shiite adversary Muqtada al-Sadr, who’s now Iran’s candidate to rule Iraq.
Shiites make up 60 percent of the Iraqi population, so Shiite domination of the government is inevitable and a democratic outcome. The United States also has good relations with Iraq’s Kurdish minority, 20 percent of the population, and would want to cement it by semipermanently stationing U.S. troops in Northern Iraq to ward off the possibility of a Turkish invasion.
Ever since the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Sunnis – representing 20 percent of the population – have been the core of armed resistance to the U.S. and the Iraqi government. The insurgency consists mainly of ex-Saddam supporters and Sunni nationalists, both eager to return to power, and of jihadists anxious to sow chaos, humiliate the United States and create a safe zone for al-Qaida operations throughout the Middle East.
Although the concept of allowing the Sunnis to be wiped out sounds utterly barbaric, Mort does make a good point here:
Prudence calls for preparation of a Plan B. The withdrawal policy advocated by most Democrats virtually guarantees catastrophic ethnic cleansing – but without any guarantee that a government friendly to the United States would emerge. Almost certainly, Shiites will dominate Iraq because they outnumber Sunnis three to one. But the United States would get no credit for helping the Shiites win. In fact, America’s credibility would suffer because it abandoned its mission. And, there is no guarantee that al-Sadr – currently residing in Iran and resting his militias – would not emerge as the victor in a power struggle with al-Maliki’s Dawa Party and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.
Link via Lucianne.