Thursday, March 15, 2007

"Oil Spot" Pacification and Economics

New term for me: Oil Spots, as in cleaning stains out of a garment one spot at a time, presumably before washing the whole thing. This clever little image is used to explain how the famous "surge" is being applied to peace-making and counterinsurgency in Iraq. John Robb explained last year in plain English.

A simple rendition of the oil spot process is:
►isolate (cordon off) an area,
►cleanse it of insurgents, and
►provide it with political goods (the process is then repeated in a new area while maintaining a cordon around the first and so on until the country was pacified).

He links to a Foreign Affairs piece explaining the process in more detail. It is very much like an approach I thought about two years ago, after Saddam was taken out but before a couple thousand US casualties and many more thousands of Iraqis were sacrificed to a very different wrong-headed approach. In other words, before we pissed all over our feet.

Whatever other drawback the plan may have (such as too-little, too-late), the economics of the approach seems to be the worst fly in the ointment.
...the oil spot approach to counter-insurgency is running into a major problem: it will likely wreck what's left of the Iraqi economy. Here's why. Oil spots require extreme restrictions on movement. That is Ok when the people that are involved are dirt farmers. However, in big cities like Baghdad, cars are needed to shuttle workers from home to job and back, everyday. Hence the problem. According to Iraqslogger, with the security plan in place, commutes that used to take 30 minutes now take 3 to 4 hours.
File this under "When will they ever learn."

No comments: