In political impact on attempts at unification, the massacre, reported by CNN, is the most significant of recent massacres, because, unlike the others, it is interpreted as an act by one political faction against another. The word “interpreted” is added just to guard against the chance that it was a false-flag ISIS operation. In the dismal accounting, it adds to the pile supporting the hypothesis of “Important Iraq Question“, and “Iran’s Strategy of Partition.”
Proving nothing, the massacre is merely compatible with the Iran hypothesis, but I find myself surprised that the perpetrators couldn’t find something better to shoot at. In the long game, the difference will show, but in the intermediate, the massacre highlights the nonviable nature of a U.S. strategy based on a politically unified Iraq.
Western culture is one of plans. In histories of World War II, much credit is given to Allied planning, which encompassed industrial and logistical effort spanning multiple years. While the raw material, men and their lives, remained the same as in previous wars, waging WWII became an exercise of management science. The specialty of operations research originated in the U.K., but was subsumed by U.S. technologists postwar. Some readers may be familiar with linear programming. One of the first postwar uses of digital computers was to solve linear programming problems as they appeared in the context of O.R.
Every previous U.S. intervention has assumed at least the fiction of political stability. This is now absent. It’s more like a game of pinball where you don’t even get to pull the plunger. The ball skitters out onto the table, while the adroit “cheat” tries to tilt the table without activating the “tilt switch.” Perhaps a closer analogy occurs if the pinball machine is in the mess of a destroyer in a rough sea.
Normally, I would stick to just trying to guess what’s coming down the pike, but the situation is so unusual, I venture an opinion. A situation like this defeats the normal concept of a plan, requiring innovation in the approach:
- The immediate goal is dynamic, point-to-point minimization and containment of the threat, not molding of regional politics.
- The response should be fluid, opportunistic, highly dynamic, and capable of varying rapidly and repeatedly from intensity to quiescence.
- Since all of the players, with the possible exception of the Kurds, seem capable of uncivilized activities, politics must be very practical.
- The duration is unknown.
- The endpoint cannot be defined.
- As the situation evolves, it is possible that opportunities for exit, or a more conventional strategy, will present. But not now.
Whether the challenge can be met will largely depend upon whether the planning structures of the U.S. government can adapt to these new requirements.