Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Predictions for Iraq

I made a generalized prediction for Iraq here.
Here are more predictions for things that will happen over the next, say, four years:

(1) Kurdistan will move toward independence.
I think that the Kurdish areas will move toward independence. I think that Israel will likely move to block any move against the Kurds by Turkey, and as a result, the Kurds will have the upper hand in moving toward independence. If terrorism in Turkey by Kurds increases, or is sponsored by Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan, expect a move to expel the Turkish Kurds. In fact, I have a feeling that Northern Iraq may become a sort of "Kurdish Zion," in that the surrounding countries (except Syria, see point 4) will expel their Kurds there much as the Arab states expelled their Jews into Israel.
Link to a Yahoo! search for the term "Israel" and "Kurds" (using quotes).

(2) If we start agitating against Iran, we will probably begin overt military action within two months. (whatever Michael Ledeen says, political action against Tehran will lead to military action). I'm not certain about an invasion, though (i.e. military action would be mostly bombing). With Syria, there is a reasonable expectation that we might invade, but I honestly don't know; all options, from leaving them alone to actualy invasion, are open at this point.

(3) The monthly coalition hostile death toll will climb into the 100s by next summer. The US army will finally be stretched beyond where it can operate on Reserves and National Guard. The sharp drop in casulaties so far this October will NOT last. This will be exacerbated if we are in conflict with Iran or Syria.
A draft is, IMO, out of the question, because it would expand the anti-war movement, cause riots on all college campuses, and nearly start a civil war in this country.
In the 60s, people protested and put flowers in guns. In the 00s, I would expect that a lot of people would have guns ready, and if there were another Kent State, would shoot back. So no draft.
What would happen instead:

(a) First, we would accelerate the drawing down of troops in Europe. If necessary, we would also reduce troop strength in Korea precipitously, leaving only enough to insure King Jong-Il that we aren't pulling out so we can nuke him. These troops would be transferred to Iraq.
(b) Second, we would begin to see an increase reliance on Iraqi forces; however, these wouldn't be nationalist forces like the ones Bush says we are training. They won't be "Iraqis who ae willing to die for their country's freedom." No, they will be made of ethnic groups that are friendly to us and used to wipe out unfriendly groups. For example, I have a feeling that sooner or later we will send large, entirely Kurdish units into Sunni towns like Fallujah to put down the rebellion. The result will be large, large numbers of dead Sunnis, and lots of collateral damage, and probably quite a bit of deliberate civilian killing, toward which we wil look the other way, and because it is done by Kurds and not us, to which we will claim to bear no responsibility. The Kurds likely will try to kill or oherwise drive the Sunnis away from much of Northern Iraq so that they can prevent a future challenge to the Kirkuk oilfields.
(c) Thirdly, we will begin to use subtler methods than the draft of procuring more recruits. For example, make more and more financial aid dependent on military service. Slowly make scholarships harder to get until ROTC is the only option for a growing number of students. This may someday lead to a draft, but it will move VERY, VERY slowly.
(d) At some point we might pay more to recruit people, as well, although this could cause a lot of budgetary problems.

(4) If we don't attack Syria, expect the Kurds in Syria to eventually rebel. With help from Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan, I don't think that Kurds in Syria would be as easily expelled as those in Iran (Syrian's Kurdish population is twice as big proportionally as Iran's). It is possible that Syria would have to surrender some land, or at the very least, would need to move most of its troops out of Lebanon to counter the threat.

(5) If Lebanon gains independence, expect the Christian population to flee to either Syria, or to Israel (they may eventually get refugee status in the west). Or else expect the situation to be put down by troops from other countries (In An End to Evil, Richard Perle and David Frum suggest that Syria should be pressured to leave Lebanon and that if Lebanon needs help to maintain security, a "less intrusive" force from other countries can be put together).
"Other countries" presumably means the US and Israel. How we would manage to stya this time when last time, the US and Israel were both driven out, I'm not certain.
However, there may be a solution to keeping order in Lebanon:

(6) Iraqi Christians will increasingly flee. They will eiher go to Syria or Israel, or eventually may get refugee status in the west. It is also possible if Syria evacuates Lebanon, and if the US and Israel intervene to prevent massive ethnic cleansing agianst Christians, that they may be resettled in Lebanon to try to shift the demographic balance. Over the long run, I think that Lebanon may divide its Muslim and Christian populations geographically. It is also not unreasonable to expect that, if Israel rather than Syria has influence over Lebanon in the future, that thos ewho push for Palestinain transfer will also push for the transfer of Lebanese Muslims to Syria. In any case, if the Christians ever get contol again in Syria (whether as a majority or as a minority with just enough power to prevent the majority from taking over, e.g. the non-Palestinian Jordanians), I expect that there will a be a push to prevent demographics from taking Lebanon from them.

In short, I believe we will see the emergence of an independent Kurdistan, increasing pushes for more US soldiers for the Middle East without an actual draft, a weakening of Syria, a Lebanon once more consumed in war or else occupied by the US or Israel, and attempts to win the "demographic war" in Lebanon and maybe northern Iraq with population transfers.

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