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Obviously the issue that's on all of your minds is the President's speech tomorrow night. That surge, as it's being called, what do we do about that. I - that's where I (audio break) want. But you can't really understand any of that without at least having some sense of what is going wrong in Iraq. And why we are in the shape that we are in. So I was going to make a few quick remarks as we are kind of setting up that issue which you think of what the president is going to propose tomorrow night. And I would explain it this way. The way that you need to think of Iraq, the way that you need to think about the problems in Iraq is they have all stemmed from a fundamental set of original sins compounded by later mistakes. I am not going to try to go into all of these. I am only going to take off one or two really important ones. For those who are interested obviously there is some very good books on the subject. I also just wrote a piece called the "Seven Deadly Sins of Iraqi Reconstruction" which is in the Journal of MERIA which is available on the web. If you are interested that's probably a lot quicker read than most of the books out there although I confess that George Packer wrote `Assassin's Gate is much better writer than I am. I would hardly recommend George Packer over my prose. But you have to start by understanding on April 9th, 2003 when we overthrew Saddam Hussein we created a security vacuum and a failed state in Iraq. We have never recovered from those two problems. Those two problems created the possibility enabled all of the other problems that we are seeing now. The security vacuum first allowed terrorist movement to take hold. That terrorist movement then morphed in to a larger insurgency, which in some ways subsumed it, but in some ways is different from it. It also allowed most of the country to fall into the hands of vicious sectarian militias. The combination of the terrorism and the insurgency in the sectarian militias has now produced a civil war and that's why we are where we are. And what's important to take away from that is if you are going to tackle the security problems in Iraq, you have to be ready to deal with every single one of those things. You have to deal with the civil war, you have to deal with the insurgency, you have to deal with the terrorism, you have to deal with the security vacuum and you have got to deal with all of those things and to a certain extent you have to deal with all of them more or less simultaneously. Some have greater precedence than others and in particular it is the security vacuum and the failed state that are the most important, the most pressing problems, why because counter insurgency doctrine, and counter terrorism doctrine 101 tell you that you need a partner in the Iraqi indigenous forces to be able to deal with the insurgency and the terrorism but you haven't got a partner right now because we have got a failed state. Okay, the second point, as I mentioned because of the failed state and because of the security vacuum we allowed this vicious sectarian militias to take control over most of the country. Now not all of them are vicious, the Kurds are militias but they are semi friendly militias and they are semi-responsible to their people. They are not perfect by any stretch of imagination but they are heck of a lot better than Jaysh al-Mahdi or the Badr Brigades or a whole slew of others. Another point to make most of the Sunni insurgency are themselves nothing but Sunni militias. They are the functional equivalent of the Shia militias of Jaysh al-Mahdi of the Badr Brigades, of Fadilah and the other groups out there. And so while we tend to lump them together with Al- Qaeda they are fundamentally different in some very important ways. Again they work with Al Qaeda because they have the same goal, ultimately they oppose the government, but that's only because the government right now is controlled by the Shia and to a lesser extent the Kurds. If the government were controlled by the Sunnis we would be calling the Sunni groups militias from the Shia groups, the insurgents. So these are just semantics, and it is important to think of these things as all being part of the same problem. In addition, is that we also compounded these original sins with a whole slew of additional mistakes. I am only going to talk about one right now which was the premature handing back to the Iraqis of sovereignty. Standing up an Iraqi government way before the Iraqis where actually capable of having a functional government and then handing sovereignty back to them and then respecting that sovereignty as if it was somehow meaningful and allowing it to tie our own hands and that has created a situation where what we did was we basically put the Shia Militias in charge of Iraq. How did that happen, well as I said we have the security vacuum, so there was nothing to stop the people with guns from taking over the streets which they did and by the same token we created a need on the part of the population for people with guns to protect them. Okay, the state couldn't protect them, we weren't protecting them because we were busy chasing Al-Qaeda around Anbar province and the people living in most of the Iraq needed to someone to protect and they turned inevitably to the militias and in many cases they didn't have a choice. In many cases the militias operated a typical protection racket and they would come in and say no - you know, who is going to protect you when Al Qaeda comes to kill you, answer no one except us. And in return for your support, we will provide you with protection and basic services and that's also a very important part of this to understand again. There is a failed state in Iraq. The state is incapable of providing basic services to its people, medical care, in many cases, food, water, electricity et cetera. The militias increasingly are providing that support. They learn from Hamas, they learned ultimately from Hizbollah, this is the Hizbollah model. They understand how to do that and that is exactly what they do. So they filled that gap that the government and we have failed of fill. As a result of this, the militias were able to take over the political process and get themselves elected into the government. So they are now effectively the legitimate rulers of Iraq. And what we have done is that we have created a "catch 22" for ourselves. Okay, the problem that we have right now is that the Iraqi government has neither the capacity nor the will to do anything for it's people. That's important to keep this in mind because a lot of people, or a lot of people, lot of the leaders in the Democratic Party subscribe to this mythology which is that the problem with the Iraqis is that we are there to do everything for them so they don't need to do it. That is flat out wrong. There are people in Iraq who don't want to do it. They are the militia bosses and I am going to explain why that's the case in just a minute but there are a whole group of other Iraqis who actually would like to do it. They simply are incapable of doing it because they have no capacity. So everyone is saying well we need to give them a timeline to get out because that would you know, focus their minds and force them to do this stuff which they haven't been willing to. Quite frankly they can't do it. They are not in a position to do so, and will not be in a position to do so for several years. Again it's why and you saw Michael Gordon's piece, I assumed that piece that Michael Gordon and John Burns wrote in the Times was a fabulous piece and one of the things that they pointed to is this mistaken approach over the last two and half years where we thought that this was all about simply enabling an Iraqi partner. We don't have an Iraqi partner. We never did, it was always a mistake to assume one. You have to build an Iraqi partner and it takes time to build that Iraqi partner and we have not given them the ability to do so. So who has capacity in Iraq, the militias do. Okay, that capacity gives them political power, it allows them to control the government and what we have been doing for two years is going and screaming at them that they need to use their governmental capacity to go and do things that will supplant their private capacity. In other words we want the government to go and provide protection to the people and basic services. Well if you do that then there is no need for the militias and since the militias run the government there is no way on earth that they are ever going to agree to do that. And so as I said we have created a catch 22 for ourselves. We are keep on looking to the Iraqis to do this stuff. We say to the Iraqis, you need to provide the basic security and the basic services. And the Iraqis, again the militia leaders say you have no interest in doing that because doing so will simply put us out of business. And they are not going to - they are not going to go gently into that good night. Okay, so that's kind of why we are where we are. That's why we are in the midst of this horrible long jump in Iraq where things are going bad and no one does anything about it. And that's how you need to think about the plan that the President is going to advance tomorrow night. Now obviously we don't know exactly what the plan is going to look like. All we know what we are getting from the leaks. Let's assume though that the leaks are fairly obvious, I think, that's reasonable, I think that there is enough evidence out there to suggest that. Some of the best evidences, I cannot imagine that Bob Gates who is one of the smartest sons of bitches you will meet in Washington agreed to come back as Secretary of Defense unless this administration where willing to make real changes and smart changes and second I can't imagine that they would pick Dave Petraeus to go out to Baghdad to run the operation in Baghdad if they weren't specifically looking to do something just like this. Because that's what Petraeus is famous for, it's what he did in Iraq when he was a division commander and made it work, he is the right guy for that kind of a job. So I think, again there is a reasonable assumption that what we are going to hear from the President is broadly along the lines of the leaks. Okay, first point. The surge, the troop increase is the least interesting element of this entire enterprise. Everyone is focused on the troops, for me the troops are an ancillary issue to the entire issue because ultimately all that matters is the plan itself. Okay, if we do not change how we are conducting ourselves in Iraq we could put in a 100,000 more troops and it will not matter. It will not change a thing. We could put in no more troops and change the way that we are doing things and start to have a real impact on the situation potentially and I am going to talk about some caveats in a second but let me just stick with the basics of it. The basics of the plan with what need to be out there and what it looks like we are going to hear from the administration is you need to start to undue the problems that I started to outline. You need to fill the security vacuum. That means protecting the Iraqi people is what's you are hearing. That's the heart of what Petraeus is preaching, it's the heart of what General Corelli tried to great them to do last year and it's the heart of what a lot of different people including the plan that we put out from Brookings in February of last year is talking about on the military side. The importance of protecting the people, so that you fill the security vacuum, so that you make it so that the people don't have to rely on the militias and you basically drive the militias off the streets and we have done this before. We have done this in any number of places in Iraq. The problem is we don't stay long enough to actually make it stick. And one of the keys there is going to be, not only do we actually take back to the streets but we stay and the problem with when they talked about clear hold and build was we did a bunch of clearing, we didn't do any holding. Because our troops would clear and then they would move on. Okay, this troops have to clear and they stay. They stay for long periods of time. They are going to need to stay there full time, one of the other problems you have is Baghdad security plan. We actually did some clearing and even tried to hold but we only did the holding during the day. Our troops all went back to their bases at night. Which you know, anyone has ever seen a Vietnam war movie knows this is not how you fight an insurgency, let alone a civil war. So that's going to be another change. And there are a whole series of changes along those lines but again it really gets at using the military to fill the security vacuum and create secure areas for the Iraqi population. Secure space, in which the rest of Iraqi society can start to knit itself together. But that's the second component to the plan, which there is little bits and pieces out there but for me that's the bigger issue. Because I am pretty confident that if they are choosing Petraeus, Petraeus understands the military side of this equation and I am pretty comfortable that Bob Gates is going to let Petraeus do his thing. But you know, you keep hearing the military say that there is no military solution to this. They are right, okay. All the military can do is create the circumstances in which the political and economic and social and cultural changes can enfold, there can actually make a difference here and in the civil war and eventually in the insurgency and then in the terrorism problem. And that's why the civilian component to this is at least as important as the military components And again if you want to talk in Q&A about specific details, the billion dollars, is it necessary, is it unnecessary I am glad to do that but simply to put it this way, there has to be a major civilian component to this. It has to be about decentralizing government, about creating government at the local level, so that Iraqis can start to run their lives away from the logjam of Baghdad and the militias. It's got to be about putting resources in the hands of those people, it's got to be about micro economic development, so that people in the parts of Iraq, that we are going to start to secure feel like their lives are getting better, and providing them with the basic services which they have been denied for 3.5 years. So there's got to be an infrastructure component to it. And that's where the oil plan comes in. The oil plan has got to be about empowering local government, about micro economic development, about putting the money in the hands of the Iraqi people, so they start to benefit from all of this. Now again there is a lots more detail that I can go into if you want me to, lets save that for the Q&A. Let me make this point, I suspect that we are going to hear a whole lot of this from the administration. I suspect that I am going to be really happy with the speech that the President gives and all the other public diplomacy that's going to go with it. I have two very important reservations about what we are going to hear. The first is a substantive one. Which is a very simple point of, is it too late? Okay, I spent the last year working with a very good colleague, another friend from the Saban Center on civil wars and how civil wars develop and what you do about them and can you contain them et cetera. And one of the things that looms large to us when we looked at 12 different recent civil wars, one of the things that really looms large to us is civil wars are all about psychology and they are all about the dynamics of different psychologies and there always seems to be in every civil war a point of no return where the psychology has just built up so much momentum. It's a snow board, it's a vicious cycle, it has built up so much momentum that it's just unstoppable. And the biggest problem is that you never see it at the time. In every one of these civil wars you can always go back and retrospectively say yeah, this was the momentum when it basically became impossible to stop this thing. But it's almost impossible to tell at the time and for that reason, I don't know, if we haven't already passed that point. Again when we put out this big plan in February 140 pages military, political, economic, bureaucratic, swoop to nuts. When we put this out in February my feeling was we still had a pretty good chance to make it work if you are willing - willing to shift over at the time, and again General Corelli who showed up in Baghdad very quickly afterwards developed his own plan that was very similar and it went no where. They just didn't resource it properly and it's now a year later and a lot of water has passed under the bridge and we just don't know if this situation hasn't gotten so bad, that it's not just impossible to turn it around. Especially, given the logjams that we have created in the political process, so that's caveat number one. Even with all of the good will in the world, even with all of the resources, even with a perfect national security team leading this effort it's just not clear that this can still work. The second point is a kind of nice segway. We don't have a perfect national security team with all due respect to our friends from the administration here this is a national security team, obviously this one that has changed I want to talk about that in just a moment. But it's a national security team that has talk to talk but failed to walk the walk. Okay, I have seen other plans from this administration that sounded lovely. The president's speech is in the fall of 2005, where great speeches. They were much better than anything that we had heard from the administration and it sounded like they were moving in the right direction. Condi's testimony on the Hill about clear hold and bill, those were exactly the right words and she held up Tal Afar. My friend H.R. McMasters great campaign in Tal Afar as being the model of what they were going to do, and that was exactly the right model and they didn't do it. And that's my feeling about this is we have now heard at least twice from the administration, pretty good plans for what was going to happen in Iraq and they absolutely failed to follow through and in some ways to me that's the biggest one lying out there. Is can this national security team actually pull off this plan especially, given the fact, that it's now 3.5 years down the road or a year or two years beyond the point where you would have optimally wanted to start this kind of a plan. On the one hand as I said, having Rumsfeld out and Gates in is a very important set of changes. Gates is an extremely effective guy, and extremely bright and he is much more open minded about this sort of stuff and again what he has been showing so far is he actually understands that this is the one way that might actually still work. But he is only one person, as I always like to say, he is only the Secretary of Defense. He doesn't run this entire government. And this is going to require the entire government to take part. And that goes back to my point about the civilian side of this. The military arguably has had the wrong strategy and made some silly mistakes. But they have at least been trying. Most of the rest of the government just isn't trying. And part of what's going to have to happen is the President is going to have to be willing to mobilize the resources, not just of the department of defense but of the entire government. And I just don't know whether this administration is actually capable of pulling that off, especially at this late date. I have just come back this morning from a short visit to Israel and Rumala and I will talk about the - my conclusions from that visit about the prospects for one element that's being touted as part of the president's speech and plan which is a new initiative on Israeli Palestinian peace process. But before I do that, I wanted to put the whole issue of Iraq in a broader regional context. And it's important to understand how the region views what is happening in Iraq and to see it from their perspective, I am struck each time I go out to the region, there is a large and growing disconnect between the way that we see things out there and the way that they see things out there. And for them it's important to understand that what's happening in Iraq is now part of a major shift in the struggle for power in the region. What they feel they are witnessing is the end of the era of American dominance in the Middle East. An era that began with the end of the first Gulf War in Saddam Hussein's eviction from Kuwait followed quickly by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had been for decades the sponsor of anti American radical rejectionist forces in the region and that - those two events coming together put America in a position of dominance at the beginning of the 1990s. That era of dominance is coming to an end essentially because of our failure in Iraq. And what it means for the region is that when you no longer have a dominant super power that can influence events across the region, for all of the regional powers, they are returning to a politics of the balance of power and in that regard the decline, what they see as the decline of American power, the corollary to that is the rise of Iranian power. Courtesy of the American taxpayer, the United States army of the Bush administration has succeeded in removing Iraq from the balance of power in the region and therefore Iran doesn't have to do anything to become dominant in the Gulf Region in the context of what is perceived to be an eventual American withdrawal. But on top of that they have succeeded in building an alliance with the regime in Syria and their proxies in Lebanon, Hizbollah, and increasingly with Hamas in the Palestinian arena which is now, the elected government. And, of course, the Shia parties that dominate the - or control the Iraqi government and so what emerges is a - Iranian lead Shia dominated alliance that has the ability to play in four arenas simultaneously. Obviously in Iraq, but also in Lebanon where Hizbollah is in the midst of a an overt strategy to bring down the pro-American democratically elected government influence in Iraq. In the Palestinian arena where Hizbollah and Iran and Syria is backing for Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist organization that are operating there, is giving them the ability to dominate and determine, in effect, and block anything positive that might emerge from efforts to resolve the conflict there. And the fourth arena is on the nuclear level where Iran's nuclear program which two years of effort by the United States has failed to produce anything but a fairly whimpish sanctions resolution in the Security Council that will do nothing to prevent Iran from pursuing it's nuclear weapons program and that gives them ability to reinforce the perception of dominance because of the way in which they are playing all these other arenas with the sense that they will be the first non-Israeli actor in the region to have nuclear weapons. And as a consequence of that perception in the region of the decline of American dominance and the rise of a new Iranian lead alliance that is making a bid for dominance in the region is that the Sunni Arabs, in particular, the King of Saudi Arabia, the King of Jordan, the President of Egypt cannot accept the idea that Persian Shia Iran will determine the fate of Arab interests, will be the arbiter of Arab interests in Iraq, in Lebanon and the Palestinian arena. These are all the critical areas for the Sunni Arab leaders and they cannot simply do what we compel them to do in a situation where a new dominant power emerges and that is referred to in the literature is the bandwagoning effect as joining the stronger power. Cannot do that, because of the unacceptability of Persian Shias dominating their region. And so what we might perceive as a battle between a new rising extremist forces and the moderate forces of the region, they perceive as a battle between Shias and Sunnis. Obviously playing itself out in Iraq with the civil war that is going on there between Sunnis and Shias but playing itself out across the region as well in the way that I have described. Hizbollah, Shia Hizbollah challenging the Sunni Christian alliance in Lebanon. Hamas, well there are no Shias in the Palestinian arena but Hamas a Sunni extremist organization aligning itself with Iran is something which is deeply troubling to them particularly because of the hot button they threw at the Palestinian issue And so they have to find a way the counter this bid for dominance by the Iranians. What they are looking to do but they have been quite ineffective so far is to strengthen those Sunni regimes that are now under attack. So they are trying to provide the backing to the Sinora government in Lebanon to enable it to hold on against this Hizbollah onslaught. They are trying to strengthen Abu Mazen the Palestinian President in his efforts to pressure Hamas to accept the conditions set by the international community that would enable a national unity government to be formed between Hamas and Fatah the former ruling party there of Palestinian president Abu Mazen so that they could move ahead in the peace process. They are working quietly with Israel as a solid partner in this effort to counter Iraq because there is a common interest between Israel and the Sunni Arab leaders in terms of the common perception of a threat from Iran and the need to find ways to work together because Israel is a player obviously on a nuclear level but also in Lebanon and even more so in the Palestinian arena. And obviously if you follow the logic of this struggle for power, they don't want to see the United States weakened. Whereas the Iranians and their allies clearly see America's weakness as contributing to their strength in this struggle for power So from this we can divide what the reactions of the regional players will be to President's speech and the announcement of a new plan, including and particularly what they will focus on is sending of - if it 20000 American troops, more troops to the region. In think for Iran and Syria and Hizbollah they will understand, they will understand this as the last battle for Iraq and therefore for regional dominance. The Iranians in particular, do not believe, they can - disagree with me, do not believe the Iranians have an interest in helping us in anyway succeed with this new plan. People argue that the Iranians don't want chaos in Iraq and that that's some how, this has leveraged to ensure that they will help us in this situation. Well the only way, I believe, that they will help us in this situation is to help us out of Iraq so that they can be dominant there. And if chaos contributes to our withdrawal from Iraq, so much the better, even though they will run the risk of being dragged into the civil war, I believe, that they consider that risk worth running for the huge advantage that will come from a defeat of the American super power in Iraq. Syria notwithstanding what I have said about the declining influence of the United States still worries about the intentions of the Bush administration in terms of regime change in Damascus and from that perspective more troops to Iraq will be perceived in Damascus as increasing the threat that they perceived to their regime and they too will have an interest in seeing us fail in this new effort. The notion that by talking to Iran and Syria we can now, you know, get them to help us in this situation, I think, is a fanciful one simply because it does not take account of the broader struggle for power in the region that I have described in which they both have an interest in seeing us defeated. On the other side, of course, the opposite holds true. I don't think the Egyptian societies, the Jordanians want us to go down to defeat in Iraq. But they also don't want us to help the Shia dominated government suppress the Sunnis because there maybe Sunni extremist but you know, that old line about him maybe an extremist but he is our extremist and that's the way they perceive things. As I said before, it's not extremists versus moderates it's Sunnis versus Shias. But from their point of view success for this strategy will be very important for holding the line against this Iranian Shia nexus. That's the good news. Bad news is there is no great deal that they can do about it to help us. Their influence on Sunni insurgents is, I think, limited if not non-existent and therefore they will be kind of cheering from the sidelines quietly because they never wanted to be exposed but unlikely to be able to make much difference there. So the other - let me say a few words about the other element of the administrations plan which is supposedly some kind of initiative on Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It's not clear at all to me what an initiative would look like that could possibly work and I say this is somebody who basically has devoted my last work to try to make peace between Israelis and Arabs and would love to have seen this administration make an effort to pursue peace over the last six years. But to do so now is to do so at a point where six years of neglect have helped, I'd say it's entirely (indiscernible) certainly by being bystanders while the Israelis and Palestinians duked it out. It has lead to a situation where we don't have people, partners that we can work with us. Kind of the analogue to what Ken was describing any way. What we have on the Palestinian side is a struggle for power that's on between the nationalists in Fatah lead by Abu Mazen against the fundamentalists of Hamas lead by Prime Minister Haniyeh who is the elected government. And until they sort that out, they don't even have time to think about the peace process. I had a jolly session with Abu Mazen yesterday that was Sunday and the issue never came up. Condoleezza Rice is likely to go out there as part of this new found interest in promoting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, but guess what she is going to discover. That Abu Mazen is heading off to Damascus. Maybe we should succeed in stopping him. But why is he going to Damascus it's got nothing to do with the peace process, it's because he wants the Syrians to influence Khaled Mashal who is outside Hamas leader, the external Hamas leader who is based in Damascus so that he can increase his leverage in Hamas internally to try to get them to join him in a national unity government. That's the game he is playing at the moment and he it's going cross wise with this administrations own plan for isolating Syria. On the other side we have got Prime Minister Ahmed who doesn't speak to his Defense Minister, trying to get rid of his Defense Minister objects mildly to his foreign minister having bank channel talks with Palestinians about the peace process would like to find the way to move forward as long as he leads that effort. But hasn't like, I think, a 17 percent approval rate in Israel and is - finds himself completely overwhelmed by investigations and scandals, stories of scandals and those kinds of problems. And doesn't have a Palestinian proper to move forward with for the reasons I have explained. So even though there is a kind of conventional wisdom forming in Washington that we have to take an initiative on the Israeli- Palestinian front so as to help us in our Iraq strategy there isn't an initiative to take. That's the news from the region. There isn't an initiative to take. And Condoleezza Rice has gone out for consultations. She is - I do not believe, she is going to be able to come back and say Mr. President I have got the green light from Ehud Olmert, Abu Mazen is ready to go forward notwithstanding the fact that Hamas calls for Israel's destruction and I want you to make a major effort now to make peace, create a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. So to conclude in a similar to Ken, in my view what the president will propose this week, in theory makes a great deal of sense, but if you pursued it three years ago, it probably would have had a good chance of succeeding, now I am afraid it has zero chance of succeeding and actually more pessimistic even than Ken in this regard