The Battle for Baquba
The metasticized cancer is surge-ically being removed and its influence upon Mesopotamia sent into remission.
Thoughts flow on the eve of a great battle. By the time these words are released, we will be in combat. Few ears have heard even rumors of this battle, and fewer still are the eyes that will see its full scope. Even now—the battle has already begun for some—practically no news about it is flowing home. I’ve known of the secret plans for about a month, but have remained silent.
This campaign is actually a series of carefully orchestrated battalion and brigade sized battles. Collectively, it is probably the largest battle since “major hostilities” ended more than four years ago. Even the media here on the ground do not seem to have sensed its scale.
Baquba has been an important city in this fight for several years, and for various reasons. It’s critical to keep in mind that AQM and others had the specific goal of starting a civil war, and this was plainly clear by early 2005. When the Golden Dome was obliterated in Samarra in 2006, and blood gushed into the streets, the politically inconvenient truth about the malignant potency of Al Qaeda was undeniable. In a perverse anniversary commemorated earlier this month, the two lone minarets left standing in Samarra after the 2006 bombing, were unceremoniously flattened in attacks that resulted in reprisals nearby in Babil Province and as far removed as Basra.
At least part of the reason we are not seeing even wider-spread open-necked reprisals for the recent bombings (though the reprisals have been serious) is because our current leadership under Petraeus is adroitly pushing political buttons behind the curtains. Based on things I saw, heard, and even videotaped while out among Iraqi tribal leaders in Anbar, unseen hands are reaching out and finding peace with tribes where others found war. Based on what I see all around Iraq, and not just in Anbar, I believe intuitively that most of this war can be ended through smart politics.
Smart politics is not transparent. The best politician leaves no traces of his handiwork in the resolution of complex issues, because if the resolution is to hold, the local parties must be able to claim responsibility with confidence, even to the extent of believing they did it themselves. Further, success in complex negotiations involves compromise, which (after open hostilities) can be perceived as caving and taken as indication of undue influence from outsiders. That kind of perception gets people killed over here.
Smart politics leaves more people standing with their heads, and so discretion has to be seen as vital to the war effort. Reports claiming that no political progress is happening here because the Iraqi parliament seems stalled are tantamount to claiming that when the US Senate bogs down the stop lights don’t work on Main Street USA. At the same time, no one is interested in going for the broomstick once they’ve seen the man behind the curtain, so smart politicians don’t let that happen, especially when the stakes are this high.
Hat tip for the Michael Yon dispatch: skye
"Offensive Operations" underway
Battle of the Belts
The Battle of Baqubah II