An Answer for Iraq




The Enclave Solution




David Sinclair


January 12, 2007

Revision after posting at and






Most suggestions for what America should do in Iraq have ignored the causes for the problems and the demands of the Iraqis, focusing instead on only the single dimension of how many American troops should be in Iraq: more, a temporary surge, the same, less, or none.  The geography of the country provides a different type of solution that might be acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats, should be welcomed by the military, satisfies the Iraqi people and leaders, and lessens the risk of civil and regional war.


  1. Remove American troops from Iraqi cities, as requested by the Iraqi people, by Iraqi leaders, by the American military, and now by Donald Rumsfeld. Our soldiers will no longer have the horrendous task of trying to police a people they do not know or understand. The Iraqi people will no longer wake up to the sight of an occupying infidel army on their street. 


  1. Stop the sabotage and theft of Iraqi oil. Oil is the key to Iraq. It is the resource each of the three factions must have and thus a reason for civil war. Oil is also important because it could provide the means for reconstruction. America has acted, however, as if protecting the oil was of no importance. Instead of doing the job ourselves – properly – we paid British and South African companies to do it. They then outsourced it to Sunni paramilitaries without realizing Shiites would fight to prevent Sunnis controlling the oil and, with it, dominating the country once again. Further sectarian fighting for the oil can be stopped and high security provided for most oil production by redeploying about 20% of American troops to the “Enclave”: a nearly uninhabited desert area that produces 71% of the oil and controls most exports. The Enclave is geographically easy to defend. Lying between Hawr al Hammar lake, the Kuwait border, and the Persian gulf, and including a deep water port.  American soldiers will defend the perimeters of the Enclave, form Quick Reaction Forces, and man a powerful easily-supplied American base providing air support throughout Iraq and defending Iraq against invasion by any of the neighboring countries. They will be doing important work suited for their abilities, training, and equipment. We do deserts!


  1. Under strict international scrutiny, all profits are returned to the Iraqi people, paying directly for the army and distributing at least part of the rest equally to the 275 constituencies of proportionally elected members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives. Therefore, the oil profits and the resulting power are partitioned fairly among the competing factions (to help avoid civil war) while keeping the country together (to help avoid regional war).


  1. Within the high security of the Enclave, workers from Coalition countries will repair and modernize oil production. Natural gas, a by-product of oil production, will once again be readily available for Iraqi domestic use. Oil is exported directly from the Enclave, free from sabotage and theft. Record exports together with current high prices will provide profits that when poured back into the country will promote reconstruction and provide a satisfactory standard of living for the Iraqis.     

An Answer for Iraq


The midterm election has brought a call for a solution to the problems America is facing in Iraq.  The main concern by most Americans is bringing the soldiers back home.  Meanwhile, the Administration has been saying we cannot cut and run but must stay the course and perhaps surge the troops. Others insist we must greatly increase our commitment.  There has been intense debate, but all of it has focused on this single dimension: the number of US soldiers in Iraq (>,=,<).  Every point along this line has been carefully examined. It is clear now, however, that simply switching to another point does not offer hope for a solution that would even be considered by all parties, let alone be acceptable.


The experts have become very skilled at criticizing positions other than their own along this continuum, but they seem to have become blind to solutions that lie off of the line.  I believe there are better solutions, but we need to step back and take a broader view if we are to see them. In this case, a solution does not need to be out of the two-dimensional envelope in order to be new: it only has to be off of the one-dimensional line.


This paper describes one such program: the Enclave Solution. It is not staying the course, but it leaves America with a stronger military presence in the area than we have today.  It is not cutting and running, but it brings home the vast majority of our soldiers and greatly improves conditions for those remaining in Iraq. It is pragmatic, proposing actions that will work in Iraq rather than what we wish would work.  It takes Iraqi culture as it is, rather than crusading to try to make Iraqis act like us.  It considers the implications not just for us, or even for both Iraq and America, but for the whole world now and in the future.


The Enclave Solution is a comprehensive program. Some specific actions have been recommended earlier, but the program as a whole is different from anything I have seen being proposed.  I hope it will receive a proper consideration, first, as an example that staying and leaving are not the only two options and, second, perhaps as a guide to what really should be done.


A. Requirements


1. Political. The most important criterion for a solution about what America should do concerning the Iraq situation is being acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats.  It must provide both parties with those outcomes that they consider most critical.  It must maintain a strong military position for America in the area and prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state and a potential breeding ground for terrorists.  At the same time it must bring home most of the American forces and prevent our presence and actions helping recruitment by al Qaeda. It should appeal to American voters. The required steps must be compatible with the administration’s preferred manner of acting.


2. Military. It must stop improper use of American soldiers.  Presently they are being made to be policemen in a place where they do not speak the language, do not understand the culture, and where their very presence as foreign occupiers is an incitement to most of the people. Every cop on the block knows how important it is to know the people, and to command their respect.  American troops should be asked to do jobs for which they are suited, capitalizing on their abilities, training, and equipment.


3. Peace in and around Iraq. It must recognize that Iraq is really three countries, or more. Much of the trouble in Iraq today is caused by the factions fighting over national resources (particularly the oil and the money from it) and institutions (e.g., the army) that would once again allow one faction to dominate the others. The solution must remove these potential prizes from contention between the factions in order to avoid civil war. Instead, it must partition power to the factions. At the same time, however, Iraq must be maintained as a single entity in order to avoid chaos and war between the countries in the region.


4. Acceptable to Iraqis. To the average Iraqi, the face of the American soldier outside the door is not that of a liberator; it is the face of an invader. We are an occupying army, and like all occupying armies throughout history, we are hated. An acceptable solution must remove this most critical source of pain, fear, and subjugation from the Iraqi people. It must consider their other grievances including the widespread lack of electricity, natural gas, gasoline, and water. It must also attend to what the elected Iraqi leaders are demanding.


5. Culturally appropriate. The solution must promote a better means for influencing behavior.  The administration has used in Iraq what might be called the Cowboy Approach.  We pull our six-shooters on the people and tell them to do what we want or else.  The Cowboy Approach may have worked among the rugged individualists in the Wild West.  Iraq, however, is an ancient culture with every person being part of an intricate web of relatives and associates. Long ago it developed a successful deterrent to the Cowboy Approach: revenge with a vendetta.  An Iraqi facing a gun might say, “If you shoot me, my relatives and associates will torture and kill you and your entire family.”  We could try to change the culture to one like ours in which personal revenge is illegal, but we are unlikely to succeed in the near future. We are more likely to succeed if we changed our own approach to one that traditionally has been used in Iraq: we pay leaders for their cooperation and support. The leaders then use part of the money to pay the next echelon of people for their help and loyalty; and these people in turn pay the next layer for their work and allegiance.  Etc., down the line.  In this manner, the State has traditionally been the main employer in Iraq. 


6. Economically successful.  The solution should bring Iraqi oil flowing properly to markets.  Iraqis are addicted to petrodollars.   Long term plans might try to change the situation. But if we want a solution that is going to succeed now, the solution must satisfy the dependence and make proper use of it.  Iraq has missed out on most of the high profits from the current increase in oil prices because lack of security and obsolete equipment has greatly limited production.  Given proper security, the fields could be modernized and oil revenues increased to record levels.  The huge profits could restore Iraqis to a reasonable standard of living.  In turn, restoring the Iraqi oil fields will help stabilize the international oil market, with advantages to consumers in Peoria and in Peking.



B. The Enclave Solution

Prime Minister Maliki said he told President Bush that Coalition forces must be removed from the Iraqi cities.  The Health Minister of Iraq made the same demand along with his estimate of 150,000 civilian casualties. This is quite reasonable.  The mere sight of American soldiers is painful to the Iraqi people.  For every story we hear of soldiers treating civilians badly, the Iraqis hear ten.  They do not understand the soldiers.  They do not trust the soldiers not to start shooting arbitrarily.  They fear they might be sent to prison, and they have seen the pictures from our prisons.   The sight of our troops is the symbol associated with occupation and the current fighting, and there is at least the hopeful wish heard from the Iraqi people that if the foreign troops were not in the neighborhood, we Iraqis could solve our own problems.


The Administration should announce that it intends complying with the wishes of the Iraqi leaders and the Iraqi people.  American soldiers will be redeployed out of the urban areas beginning at a specified early date.  This action will be celebrated in Iraq as a victory for the present government, which should itself be beneficial for stability.


As many troops as possible should be redeployed to an “Enclave” in southeast Iraq next to the Kuwait border (Fig. 1).  This requires rapid construction at the Enclave, establishing border security and facilities inside for a powerful US military base. 


Text Box: American soldiers policing Iraqi cities today are having difficulty telling the good guys from the bad guys.  
To secure the perimeters of the Enclave, they will have to tell the difference between an insurgent and a rock.  That is doable!   

The Enclave contains about 2% of the total area of Iraq.  To provide the same level of security to the Enclave as in the entire country might indeed only require 2% of the number of troops, i.e., about 3000 soldiers instead of 141,000 now in Iraq.  The goal, however, is to establish a very high level of security.  Probably less than 15,000 would be sufficient.  This is consistent with military estimates that a troop strength 3 to 5 time higher than Rumsfeld committed would have been sufficient to establish adequate security throughout Iraq.


Redeployment begins almost immediately, removing soldiers from outlying urban posts into the Enclave.  The pace is initially slow for each post, but then when the number of soldiers is approaching the critical limit needed to defend that post, there will be a final move when all of the remaining soldiers are redeployed at one time. 


The primary mission of the soldiers in the Enclave is simply to defend the Enclave, the oil fields, and the oil production machinery from attempts by sectarian insurgents to take it over for the exclusive benefit of one of the three factions, or by terrorists to destroy production capacity.  The methods of the insurgents and terrorists often had an advantage over ours in urban guerrilla warfare.  As demonstrated in Desert Storm and the opening phase of the current Iraqi war, however, the high technology of the American military gives us a strong advantage when fighting in open desert country. 





Fig. 1: The Enclave

American forces would be redeployed away from Baghdad and the other cities to this sparsely inhabited area in southwest Iraq. The northern border is the newly restored lake Hawr al Hammar.  The south border is Kuwait and the Persian Gulf, so there are no vulnerable supply lines.  The Enclave contains about 3500 sq miles (9000 km2), i.e., about 2% of the total area.


Another mission is to protect the Iraqi oil fields from foreign attacks.  It is possible that in a civil war, Iran might send in its army to take over the fields on behalf of the Shiite faction. Less likely, the Sunni majority in the Arab world might send in forces to protect the rights of the Iraqi Sunnis to the oil. For this mission, a powerful air force base will be needed in the Enclave.  This base will naturally be less vulnerable than aircraft carriers but at the same time able to deliver a stronger attack. A response can be made much more rapidly from the Enclave than from distant land bases. The third type of mission will be control of the air space over Iraq, providing Quick Reaction Forces, and prevention of major military operations by one faction against another.  The street to street policing will be the responsibility of the Iraqis themselves with their traditional methods.  But if one faction tries to launch a large scale attack against the home territory of another, and especially if they try using tanks and heavy equipment, our control of the air could be help to remove the threat. This would be a major deterrent to full scale civil war.


There already appear to be plans for about 5 “enduring” American airbases, although solid information is scarce. None are in the Enclave area but instead most are close to cities. The only thing different about having one in the Enclave is that it would protect the oil fields from attack while being a more secure location for the troops.









Fig. 2. Close up of the Enclave

The details in the Enclave are from Google Earth photos. Smoke plumes from the Rumaila oil field can be seen directly below the “ENCLAVE” label. (This newer  Jan. 2007 Google has a white cloudy rectangle covering the area above Az Zabayr where the primary British base now is located.)



1. Geography

Most of the area of the Enclave is sparsely populated (Figures 2 and 3).  There is one town, the deep water port of Umm Qasr.  It has a population of 1500.  The large city of al Basrah with over a million inhabitants is outside of the Enclave. The small town of Az Zabayr is specifically excluded from the Enclave by a deviation in the borderline in order to avoid heavily inhabited areas. It appears that most of the people who once lived in the Enclave have already moved out.  The land in the north around the lake Hawr al Hammar had been inhabited by a minority group called Marsh Arabs.  Most of them moved out when Saddam Hussein drained the swamps.  Nearly all agriculture in the north also stopped.  The lake and surrounding swamps have now been re-established, and some of the Marsh Arabs have returned but mainly to the area out of the Enclave, to the north of the lake.  Satellite photographs suggest that the few inhabited areas on the east of the Enclave have already been cleared, probably as part of the previous efforts to provide security for the oil fields.  Those people still living in the Enclave will gradually be moved out, probably to Basrah, with good compensation paid for lost properties.  A complex of tent prisons called “Bucca Camp” has been established by the Coalition near Umm Qasr. A reporter, Kathy Kelly, described the area as “remote and desolate”. The camp holds about 5000 POWs and TCN (Third Country Nationals) under the control of 1200 MPs from the 18th Military Police Brigade and Task Force 134. The port facilities at Umm Qasr are managed by SSA Marine.


The borders of the Enclave are relatively easy to defend.  The southern border of the Enclave is Kuwait and the Persia Gulf.  The northern border is the 20 mile wide lake, Hawr al Hammar.  Both are relative secure. An additional section on the northeast has most of its border provided by the large Shaat al Arab River. The eastern border is the Shaat al Basrah Canal from the exit of Hawr al Hammar, at Basrah International Airport, south to a deep water bay from the Persian Gulf; a large area of land beyond this eastern border is under water during the wet season.  A no-man’s land, at least 10 miles wide in most places to preclude mortar fire, will exist next to the borders. Only the western border and a small segment in the northeast are on land.  The western border of about 70 miles is in barren uninhabited desert, making automatic detection of insurgents possible.  The only part of the western border needing intensive watching is in the north where the motorway and railroad cross into the Enclave.  Most of the land in the Enclave is desert, flat in the east, rolling in the west.  Seasonal lakes are common in the north and along the Kuwait border.   There are two relatively small areas of cultivation, in the center of the north and near Az Zabayr.




Fig. 3: Population density

Only a few thousand Iraqi currently live in the Enclave area. Most is uninhabited desert.   The data here are from 2000; much of the population in the eastern part of the Enclave has since left. Google Earth shows most buildings in the Enclave area nearest to Basrah having been destroyed. Hawr al Hammar lake on the northern border of the Enclave had been drained in 2000.


Despite its desolation, the Enclave has a rather good transportation infrastructure. Several small airports as well as Basrah International Airport are in the Enclave.  A four-lane highway crosses the north end, and good roads extend down to Umm Qasr and on through Kuwait.  A railroad also crosses the north and extends to the port.  Umm Qasr was the “first liberated Iraqi city”, taken on March 21, 2003, as being critical for the invasion. Major improvements in the port began in Jan., 2004.  The bay has now been dredged and Umm Qasr operates as a deep water port.



2. Oil fields


The Enclave contains the supergiant Rumaila oil field, plus the Rachi, Suba, Ratawi, Luhais, Tuba, Nahrumr (Majr Omar), West Qurnah, and Zubair fields (Fig. 3). The Majnoon supergiant field just north of the Enclave should probably be protected as well.


Together these ten fields have 71% of the total Iraqi available oil production (1,800,000 of 2,520,000 barrels per day) and also 71% of the known reserves (61,360,000,000 of 86,630,000,000 barrels). The only major field not included is the Kirkuk field (570,000 barrels per day) in the northeast. The network of oil pipelines are also largely controllable from within the Enclave. 


Fig. 4: Oil fields and pipelines on aerial view of the Enclave area

The Enclave (yellow border) contains 71% of Iraqi oil production and reserves. The oil fields are shown in green (white labels) and known pipelines as green lines.



There are several routes for export of Iraqi oil but all were closed during the period of sanctions except the one north through Turkey (Fig. 5).  The primary one now is southeast down the Al Faw peninsula to an underwater pipeline out to the Mina Al Bakr terminal for oil tankers. Most pipelines in Iraq are above ground and difficult to defend.  The one to Mina Al Bakr is more secure because it is buried.  Drawn maps state that they show only its approximate location. It is not difficult, however, to trace most parts in Google Earth satellite maps.  Indeed many parts are easily spotted because of the black oil spills along the way. There appears to be another buried pipeline completely within the Enclave, going to from the Zubair field southeast to the port of Umm Qasr, although. Large scale filling of tankers can be seen at Umm Qasr (Fig. 4).



Fig. 5:  Oil fields and pipelines for Iraq


3. Supply lines

A basic military rule over the ages has been that the advantage lies to the opponent with the shorter, less vulnerable supply lines.  American troops in Baghdad are at a disadvantage.  Most of their supplies have to be transported half the length of the country, along unsecured highways with a high risk of mines and bombs. The long convoys of trucks to Baghdad have a high susceptibility to the classic technique used successfully when the enemy is forced into a long single file: immobilize the head of the column, then the tail, and then destroying the inside pieces one by one. Our only defense has been air support when weather conditions allowed.


Deployment to the Enclave, however, reverses the situation, giving American troops shorter, more secure supply lines than the enemy enjoys. Umm Qasr is a secure deep water port within the Enclave.  Provided we maintain naval control over the Persian Gulf, all supplies for the American forces can be delivered directly, with no passage outside of the Enclave.  Supplies can also come overland directly from Kuwait.  


One must also consider worst cases.  There is always the possibility that the balance of power will turn against us in the future.  The Enclave situated next to the Kuwait border and the Persian Gulf is probably the best spot in Iraq to be if one has to retreat.


C. Three countries in one


The Newsweek correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Hastings, attended Bush’s recent visit to Vietnam, and filed a very perceptive article, "Clean Slate", about the differences between Iraq and Vietnam;  differences he says that will probably prevent an easy American withdrawal this time.  The first difference, of course, was the oil, providing Iraqis with something very valuable to fight over.  The second difference is that Iraq is really three countries, whereas Vietnam although divided in half was a rather natural single entity. 


Historically, there was no Iraq.  In Ottoman days the area was ruled in three parts, from Mosul, Baghdad, and Basrah, roughly corresponding to the Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite factions currently fighting.  When the British took control, they put the three together, calling it Iraq, and placing the strongest faction, the Sunnis, in power to administer the new country. 


Reports vary as to the amount of animosity between the factions prior to the present war. Some Iraqis talked about living side by side with the other faction, even intermarrying with them.  On the other hand, the Sunni domination of the Shia during the Saddam period and the atrocities committed against the Shia created hostility on the part of the Shia and, worse, created in the Sunni a feeling that they were superior and destined to rule the Shia.  What has happened between the factions since, during the occupation, has assured that there is great hostility between them today.


The dependence upon petrodollars supports the hostility.  If Iraq were full of profitable farms scattered throughout the country, you could divide it into three pieces, and each piece would automatically be getting the means for supporting its share of the population.  The oil, however, is not evenly spread.  Most of it is in the territory of the Marsh Arab minority, within Shiite territory.  The Kurds have a fair share, but the Sunnis have very little oil. 


Traditionally, the person in Iraq getting the money from the sale of the oil could run the country.  In effect, he could buy the country.  This was a major factor in Saddam Hussein’s rule.


Not surprising, decisions about the division of oil revenues were of foremost concern in the formation of a central government but could not be resolved.  The constitution states that the current oil production is the property of the Iraqi people, as a whole, but then there are statements implying that new oil deposits developed in the future are not general property but rather belong to the individual province.


This is a pivotal period in Iraqi history. The Constitution may well be just a piece of paper, and actually possession may in fact confer ownership.  If one faction does manage to secure the oil for itself alone, their people for many generations will have lives of leisure, opulence, and power, while the other two factions will fall to poverty and subservience for as long as the oil lasts. Winner takes all. With a prize like that, faction leaders can justify a bit of bloodshed today.


Of course, it would be nice if all three factions shared the oil, the profits from the oil, and the power of the central government, and the might of the Iraqi army.  Realistically, however, none of them trusts the others to play fair. The stakes are just too high. 


No Sunni will allow himself to be ruled by a Shiite.  No Shiite will ever again submit to the leadership of a Sunni.  And no Kurd will allow either of the other two factions to control him.  Each is willing to fight a civil war to prevent being dominated by another faction. 


The only way to prevent full scale civil war, therefore, is to partition the power.


On the other hand, at the beginning of the invasion, the American administration promised the world, and particularly its NATO ally, Turkey, that Iraq would not be partitioned.  There would be no independent Kurdistan provoking problems from the Kurds in Turkey.  Iran and Syria both have stated that they oppose partition, saying that the chaos and refuges would cause them difficulties.  Probably the most important reason to keep the factions together is to prevent war between the countries in the region.  For example, if the President of the new country of Shiite Iraq called upon the Shia in Iran to help them in a war against the new Kurdistan, or the new Sunni Iraq, the leaders of Iran would have difficulty not answering the call. 


Iraq must be maintained as a single entity, therefore, to avoid regional war.  This is also important as a measure against al Qaeda which would be the only victor in such a regional war.


Confederation has been seen as the solution to this dilemma.  There are, however, two problems.  Confederation requires a central government that is independent of the factions and sufficiently powerful to avoid being taking over by any one faction.  Power in Iraq, however, is provided by membership in a faction. No Iraqi independent of factions is powerful enough to survive for long on a national scale.


The second problem is that confederation divides power geographically.  Provinces are geographical creations with areas and borders.  The factions are not, however, perfectly divided geographically.  Some provinces do contain mainly one faction, but other provinces are mixed.  No Sunni wants to have a Shia provincial governor above him. 



D. Power partition in a unified Iraq


The Enclave Solution is to use the dependence upon petrodollars to partition the power in Iraq, but not the country itself. 


All profits from the sale of Iraqi oil are returned to the Iraqi people.  Use whatever accounting means and/or controls are needed to assure that America does not steal a single cent.  The United Nations, for example, could take responsibility to prevent the embezzlement of oil profits.  Personally, I think it would be good to have the United Nations given such a position of importance in order to restore some of the significance it lost with the Administration’s unilateral decision to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iraq.   


The most common criticism of the Enclave Solution I have gotten has been that the United States cannot be trusted to be honest in its payments to the Iraqi people. This is a sad indictment of America, but nevertheless one we have to live with – and perhaps with exemplary behavior in this case to help redeem our national reputation. This really should not be a problem.  First, America’s benign neglect of protecting the oil fields supports the conclusion that the goal was not to steal the oil profits.  Second, the total profit from oil, currently about $30 billion a year, is a small sum in comparison of what the war is costing.  America is spending about $100 billion in budgeted funds for the war and much more indirectly.  Baker Hamilton estimated the total debt from the war will be two trillion dollars. And even this money is unimportant in America in comparison to losing the election, or the loss of soldiers.  America would happily forego $30B in misbegotten money in exchange for stopping the killing of our troops.


Finally, all this bickering about whether America can be trusted to pay what it owes must sound ridiculous to a businessmen and especially international businessmen.  The problem of trusting the other party in an agreement to make the agreed upon payments is always present in business, and it is one that was solved long ago.  One common practice is to put money in escrow to guarantee payment.  For example, the United States could put $10B in escrow to back each quarterly payment of oil profits.  


An important and distinctive feature of the solution is that the profits are not given just to the executive central government of Iraq but instead divided and given proportionally to the leaders of all factions. 


The traditional means of establishing power in Iraq has been to buy it with petrodollars.  It may seem like corruption to us to have leaders, rather than collecting tax revenue and contributions from the people, to be distributing money to the people in order to buy their loyalty and votes. Indeed, Iraq was just listed as the most corrupt country on earth. We should notice, however, that it is not too different from having a multinational company pay for your labor and loyalty. In any case, our task is not to change the ethical standards of Iraq.  We should try not to be crusaders.


Power in Iraq follows the flow of petrodollars.  Whoever pays you is your leader; whoever pays your leader is his leader and your super-leader.  Since the money goes into Iraq divided according to factions, and is expected to flow along sectarian lines, no Sunni will have a Shiite above him, no Shiite will have a Sunni above him, and no Kurd will have either as a leader.   That was the recipe for avoiding civil war: the recipe for peace.


Furthermore, the flow of petrodollars is not restricted by geographical borders.  The petrodollars from the Sunni leader will flow to Sunnis throughout the country.  (This might be compared to the money from General Motors flowing to workers throughout America.) Consequently, the problem from geographical mixing of the factions is avoided.


Although the power in Iraq will be partitioned, the country itself will remain a single, sovereign state. It will be confederated, but united not by a strong central government so much as by the unified oil production of the Enclave. There will be no country of Shiite Iraq calling for support from Iran, nor a Sunni Iraq State asking Syria to protect its interests.  Turkey will not be bothered by a country of Kurdistan.   That, in turn, was the recipe for avoiding regional war.



E. Oil production


The US government stated before invading that “protecting the oil fields is a priority in the event of a war.” It should remain a priority today in the event of civil war.


Many Europeans have assumed that America invaded Iraq to get its oil.  This fits their image of the United States being run by greedy, wealthy businessmen who only care about the bottom line.  What has happened in Iraq, however, does not support this view.  If anything, America is guilty of not caring enough about the Iraqi oil.


America did not assume responsibility itself for protecting oil fields and pipelines.  Instead it acted as if the oil was unimportant and passed the responsibility on:

·        First, protecting the oil was generally handed over to the British. Probably the justification was that the British were centered in Basrah province which includes most of the oil production.

·        The British military outsourced the job to a British security company, called Olive Group.

·        Olive Group in 2004 handed the work over to a paramilitary group called the Oil Protection Force (OPF) under the command of Lt Col Mazin Yousif, formerly in Saddam Hussein’s army. He hired 4500 men, most of whom had served in Saddam’s army, too.

·        The part the Americans did not give to the British, they outsourced to a South African company, Erinys International, and then it hired paramilitary Iraqis to protect the oil facilities.


America has acted almost as if the oil did not exist. Perhaps the nonchalance is just a show, for the sake of critics in Europe and elsewhere, proving that we did not go to Iraq for the oil.  That is not, however, very likely.  Most Americans, and particularly this Administration, do not really care what European intellectuals think of them.   Bush cared about whipping Saddam.  Bush cared about getting a victory in the Middle East over al Qaeda and the forces of evil, which they naturally assumed meant Iraq. Bush cared a lot about getting votes back in the US of A.  But he did not care enough about the oil to bother having our own soldiers protecting it.


It is ironic that America disbanded Saddam’s army and made sure that they were not hired for work that was of little value to the Sunnis in their competition with the other factions, but the key to winning that competition, the oil, was casually given to the Sunnis.  No one outside of Iraq seems to have even noticed.


The Shiites noticed, however, as shown in a report on July 29, 2006, by Paul Salopek in the Chicago Tribune.   Yousif and his Oil Protection Force were still in charge:

"This must be a joke!" snapped Mazin Yousif, peering out from the back seat of his SUV at a sandbagged OPF checkpoint. "Impossible!" Strange new faces were appearing at the checkpoints. They were the bearded members of local Shiite parties and their violent militias. [Yousif’s] oil army was being infiltrated. In places like Rumailah, Iraq's boggling oil wealth was falling prey to sectarian greed…Victims of Sunni-Shiite violence were being dumped, at the rate of five or six bodies a day, into the dry canals of Basra.”


The sectarian war over the oil has already started.  It started the minute the British handed responsibility over to Sunni paramilitaries. There is a disturbing parallel here with the events prior to 1932 when the British, primarily in Basrah, handed over responsibility for the country to the Sunnis.


Protecting the oil is difficult, with over 8500 km of pipeline, most of it above ground and exposed. Even with that considered, the paramilitary forces have done a surprisingly poor job.  The insurgents seem to know exactly the times and places where they can attack in order to hurt production.  Iraq once produced 3.5 million barrels per day (Mbpd). That dropped to about 2.5 Mbpd during the period of sanctions; 2.3 Mbpd in Jan 2003 just before the war.  In Dec. 2005 it was down to 1.9 Mbpd.  Exports have to less than 1 Mbpd.  In April of 2006 as oil prices rose to over $70 per barrel, “exports have slipped to their lowest levels since the 2003 invasion.”


Meanwhile, despite the constitution saying the oil belongs to all Iraqis, the Kurds are already talking to international oil companies about production in Kurdish territory.  There are rumors that Shia leaders are doing the same.  And Sunni paramilitary organizations have control of the oil fields. The Americans may not have been interested in the oil, but the Iraqi factions know the key for their success.


A study was conducted by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.  The Unclassified Summary of SIGIR’s Review of Efforts to Increase Iraq’s Capability to Protect Its Energy Infrastructure was published September 27, 2006.  It begins:

Iraq cannot prosper without the uninterrupted export of oil… A number of factors, including insurgent attacks, an aging and poorly maintained infrastructure, criminal activity, and lack of rapid repair capability have combined to hold down Iraq’s oil exports. To achieve overall victory in Iraq, the current Administrations strategy includes protection of key infrastructure nodes and increasing the Iraqi government’s capability to protect its key energy infrastructure.”


The report concludes:

The Iraqi government has much to do if it is to implement U.S. Proposals as well as proposals put forth by its ministries.  Progress in acting on them has been slow…


In other words, 1) the oil production must be protected; 2) the Iraqi central government cannot currently protect the oil; 3) hiring sectarian Iraqi paramilitaries has not worked.  The obvious conclusion is that America must stop outsourcing and instead take personal responsibility for protecting the oil. 


Restoring oil production is the key to restoring the country and its economy. 


Protecting the oil is one job the American soldiers could do very well.  It does not require speaking the language or understanding the culture. 


The OPF paramilitary soldiers now being paid to guard the southern oil fields would be better at patrolling the urban areas, especially Sunni areas, than we are, and might well be reassigned to that task. Perhaps these largely secular soldiers might be good working in mixed neighborhoods, too.


We cannot hope to provide perfect security to all of the oil fields and pipelines across Iraq (see Figures 4 and 5). Fortunately, 71% of oil production and known reserves are located within the Enclave, and providing security for the one desert region is a task particularly well suited to the American military.


A military doctor serving in Iraq told me that if the troops there were told to go move a mountain, they would move it!  And do a good job of moving it!  Moreover, they would be happy moving it because that is a specific job with a clear goal. 


The same attitude can be seen in some of the objection of the American military leaders to Bush’s proposed surge in troop strength. Sending in additional soldiers to achieve a specific goal – to move a mountain – would be fine.  But just sending more in to do the same police work is not going to solve the problem. 


In contrast, establishing and securing the Enclave is exactly the type of specific project, with a concrete goal, that the soldiers want.   Furthermore, the goals are more meaningful that moving a mountain.


The military understands that if you meet a formidable opponent, you do not spread your forces everywhere – and succeed no where – but instead you concentrate on the most critical target. The same is true when providing the security necessary for reconstructing Iraq. We have been attempting to provide security for the entire country of Iraq without having the resources necessary to succeed.  As a result, there is no place that is truly secure.  The lack of security then hinders all other attempts at reconstruction.  One of the reasons it is difficult to defend against terrorism is that relatively little effort on the part of terrorists is sufficient to disrupt normal life and production. There is a rather high threshold of confidence that must be reached before people can work properly.  Nearly all of Iraq currently is below this threshold. 


Redeployment to the Enclave would raise this one area above the confidence threshold.  The oil fields in the Enclave would be sufficiently secure for real progress to be made in modernizing the facilities.  It should be possible not only to restore pre-war production levels from the fields but to improve them to the extent that the total Iraqi exports are substantially increased.


The high world prices for petroleum have allowed producers elsewhere to use what had been marginal deposits.  Oil sands can now be economically utilized.  Older wells can be treated and brought back into production.  In Iraq, higher prices mean problems from sea water infusion can be overcome.  With proper security in the Enclave, Iraqis could begin to benefit fully from the increases in oil prices, too.


The increased petrodollars in turn mean more money flowing into Iraq.  This at least offers the possibility for reconstruction in other areas of Iraq. 


Silvia Spring, writing in Newsweek (Dec., 25) describes the surprisingly strong economy. “Iraq is a crippled nation growing on… oil revenues and foreign grants [that] look set to total $41 billion this year… With security improving in one key spot – the southern oilfields – that figure could go up.”  The Enclave Solution would assure the best possible security for those southern oilfields.


F. Contracting


Some people claim for a solution to be acceptable in Washington today, it has to appeal not only to Republicans and Democrats but also to Halliburton. 


Fortunately, the Enclave Solution should be relatively good for contractors such as the affiliates of Halliburton.  There is going to be a great need for reconstruction in the Enclave.  Admittedly, there has been ample need for reconstruction before, but the work had to be done at high risk to the workmen.  The difference now is that there will be ample security so the contractors can concentrate on their own work. 


Under these conditions, it should be possible to find workers from America, and/or other Coalition countries willing to work in the Enclave.  There should be rules stating that no one can be hired who has affiliations or loyalties to any of the fighting Iraqi factions. Although fair wages and profits, by Western standards, can be obtained in the Enclave, there must be very strict independent auditing to prevent corruption and excess profit-taking.  


It has been proposed that Halliburton and other companies that have already profited from the war should be barred from working in the Enclave.  I firmly believe that any previous corruption or improper procedures should be prosecuted..  Setting up the rules for operating the Enclave is not, however, a court.  Furthermore, any attempt to include punishment in the proposed solution is a sure way to eliminate the solution from consideration by the current government.  Finding a way out of the problems in Iraq is too important to allow it to be scuttled by search for vengeance.

G.  Proportional distribution of oil profits


In section D on Power partition in a unified Iraq, the distribution of petrodollars was left rather vague, stating only that they should go to leaders of the factions proportionally. It was vague because there are various ways to do this.  The general principle is valid, I believe, but I am not sure which particular method should be used. Nevertheless, one plan is described here in order to give a concrete example of proportional distribution.


A primary goal for us in Iraq is to minimize the fighting between factions. There are many reasons behind the fighting. We cannot help with some of them.  There is the age-old rivalry between the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam. It should be noted, however, that the two have lived side by side without conflict in the past in Iraq, so if other reasons for fighting are eliminated, they probably can return to peaceful coexistence.  We also cannot do much about the culture of revenge except to act quickly to stop the present situation as soon as possible so there will not be many more sectarian atrocities requiring, in Iraqi eyes, just retribution.


Much of the fighting between factions, however, is being caused by the reasonable desire of each group to secure for itself as much oil, as much money, as much military strength, as much political power as possible.  Before the British left Iraq in 1932, the Sunnis had established control of the country for themselves.  The final result was the subjugation, annihilation, and humiliation of the Shiites by Saddam Hussein. Some Sunnis fear that the Shia are attempting to turn the tables and be in control when the Americans leave.


The sectarian fighting can be reduced by removing these common prizes from competition.  If no faction has a chance of capture the oil for itself alone, then there will be no sectarian fighting for the oil. That is the basic premise for the Enclave Solution.


Similarly, we should try to remove the other common prizes from sectarian competition.  It is possible to use the profits from the oil to help do so.  In general, we want to direct the revenue away from central features that could be captured by one faction or another. Instead, the final goal would be have the money flowing equally to each individual Iraqi. 


The Baker-Hamilton Report mentions the idea of simply giving the petrodollars to the each person directly, but rejects it primarily because there is no structure for distributing the money that way. This is probably correct, but there are other ways to achieve proportional distribution of the oil profits.


The following plan is one of the possible methods for proportional distribution of the oil profits:


  1. As our troops are redeployed to the Enclave, we take responsibility for the selling of Iraqi oil in order to reduce corruption and sectarian profiteering. We assure, with independent auditing, that the money all goes to the Iraqi central government.
  2. We assume direct payment of all costs of the Iraqi army in order to lessen sectarian influences. Despite a surplus in the central government, many Iraqi soldiers fail to get paid which greatly increases the risk of their joining the insurgents and for soldiers having sectarian loyalty rather than supporting the central government.  Making sure the Iraqi army is paid properly is particularly important if our soldiers become embedded as trainers into Iraqi army units, helping to assure that there are adequate resources for the training operations to be successful. The funds come from the oil profits and are subtracted from the money provided to the central government.
  3. A Representative Fund is established in order to reduce corruption in the legislative branch of the Iraqi government. The money is divided into 275 equal parts and paid to the constituencies of the 275 proportionally elected members of the Council of Representatives. The Representatives will manage the money for their constituencies. They are free to use the money in any way they choose; they do not even have to report to us how they used the money.  The money for the Representative Fund comes from the oil profits, and thus is subtracted from the amount provided to the central government.
  4. The size of the Representative Fund is gradually increased. It may increase until it accounts for nearly all of the oil profits. The Representatives will to take over the responsibility for paying for the needs of their constituents such as for the police, the schools, and the health services.  Normally legislative bodies, such as the American Congress, have responsibility for the budget, determining how the revenue of the government is spent.  The difference with the Representative Fund is that each Representative individually gets to spend the money, without necessarily involving the executive branch. On the other hand, we may find that sectarian competition over control of the central government is not as bad as feared.  This will happen, for example, if the central government acts in a fair manner toward all factions and gains their trust.  If this happens, a larger percentage of the money can be left going to the central executive branch and less into the Representative Fund.
  5. The result is a redistribution of some or perhaps all of the petrodollars and the resulting power among the three factions.  People will see their Representative as the leader over them, the person to whom they owe loyalty.  If they want, Sunnis can have only Sunni leaders in their chain of allegiance, Shiites can have only Shia, and Kurds will have only Kurds.  On the other hand, voters supporting the Iraqi List, a secular umbrella group that includes both Sunnis and Shiites, will have secular leaders providing their payment. It also will provide separate funding for the two Kurdish parties. The oil profits will be distributed as fairly as is the proportional representation in the Council of Representatives. The Representative Fund is, of course, equivalent to “pork” funding in America, except in the Iraqi case the Representative can provide funds directly without the need to get approval of other Representatives. 


Currently there are complaints that the Shiite-headed executive branch is spending reconstruction funds only on projects helping Shiites. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is being criticized for using his position as head of the central government for furthering the interests of the Shia at the expense of the Sunnis and Kurds.   The Representative Fund would prevent this sectarian bias. 


If the money were budgeted by voting decisions of the whole Council of Representatives, there is a danger that the Shia majority in the Council could fund only Shiite projects.  Payment to the individual Representatives prevents the tyranny of the majority in the Council.


There is one bias imposed by this plan.  It favors elected representatives over religious or military leaders or unelected party leaders.  The money goes first to the leaders who are talkers, not to the fighters.  It goes to those leaders who are sufficiently popular with the people to get their votes.


The importance of the Representatives, and the Council of Representatives, is increased at the expense of the executive central government. Control of the central government is no longer such an important prize for the winning faction.


Voting for Representatives, which appears to have been popular among the people, will be strongly supported.  Voting will have powerful implications.  The people are voting for who will get the money for them.  If they think their current Representative is not using the money in their best interest, they can elect someone else.


As stated previously, this is only one of various ways to distribute the oil revenues to the people.  Others should be considered.  One general concerning such plans is that we must guard against the temptation for us to use the payments to micromanage Iraq ourselves rather than letting the Iraqis do it. We could stipulate that a certain amount had to go hospitals. We could have a special fund for supporting education or, as for the unemployed, as Rumsfeld suggests. We could demand that the leaders must account for their use of the money. 


I believe these temptations should be resisted.  I think we should avoid trying to say anything directly about how the Representatives should behave.  We must let Iraqis tell us what is good for them.[1]


The Iraqi army is the only exception in the proposed plan.  It is critical that the Iraqi army not come under sectarian control especially if our soldiers are embedded within it. Our taking control of the payment for the Iraq army will help assure that a Shiite-dominated central government does not use the army, with its embedded Americans, against the Sunnis or the Kurds.  On the other hand, we do not want the army split into factional forces, with some units fighting for the Sunnis, others supporting the Shia, and still others backing the Kurds. If that happened, we could even have the possibility of Americans fighting against other Americans. Consequently, the funding of the army should not be coming from the Representatives, each with their own sectarian loyalties. The Iraqi army must be kept separate from the sectarian competition.  This could be accomplished by disbanding it, but we saw the problems created by disbanding Saddam’s army, including the unemployed soldiers joining insurgents.  I believe a better solution is maintaining the army at least at its present strength but taking direct control of its funding.  


The decision to pay the money to the accounts of the Representatives rather than to the government is one of the most revolutionary features being proposed.  In the time of a civil war, the other prize generally worth fighting over, besides the oil, is control of the central government.  Giving the money to the Representatives reduces the power and influence of the central government greatly.  It therefore, reduces the risk of fighting over control of the central government. 


Going one step further, although this payment plan does distribute the money to the different factions, it also reduces the power of the factions per se.  Representatives with their own money are less subservient to their religious leaders and party leaders at least during the periods between elections.



H. Comparison with Iraqi Study Group recommendations


The Baker-Hamilton Report shows a clear vision of the severity of the situation in Iraq. The Enclave Solution is compatible with the recommendations of the Iraqi Study group.  Indeed, the formation of the Enclave is probably necessary requirement for one of the major recommendations.


Discussions with the neighboring countries are not only desirable but necessary if troops are being redeployed to the Enclave.  In particular, the Iranians should be assured that the developments in the Enclave are not aimed at them but rather are in preparation for removing our soldiers from face to face contact with the Iraqi people, and switching their work to being the protection of the oil fields from sabotage or capture by one faction in a civil war. 


Iran should be in favor of these actions – if they believe us. So it is critical that they do believe us. And they are most likely to believe us if we are talking to them directly. This is diplomacy, and it was invented to prevent minor problems and misunderstandings from growing into wars.


Training Iraqis to handle insurrectionists is a good idea if they are to be left with that task when our troops are redeployed to the Enclave or brought home.  There are, however, problems with embedding American soldiers in Iraqi army units actually conducting operations against insurgents if the fighting becomes sectarian.  If a unit containing only Sunnis begins firing against Kurds, the embedded trainers may become involved in what is actually sectarian fighting.  There is even the possibility that American soldiers embedded with Sunni units would be fighting Americans in Shiite units. Finally, there is the major danger that Iraqi army units could become hostile and hold the embedded Americans as hostages.  Newsweek (Dec. 18, 2006) quotes Gen. Barry McCaffrey, “We’re setting ourselves up for a potential national disaster in which some Iraqi divisions could flip and take 5000 Americans hostage, or multiple advisory teams go missing in action.”


Training Iraqis should only be done in locations in which we control security can prevent units from flipping. We could fly them to Kansas where we are training American soldiers to be trainers, but a far better solution is to do the training in the Enclave.   The training of a Sunni unit could be conducted by Americans with no risk of running into Kurds or Shiites.  Moreover, one of the problems in recruiting and training of Iraqis has been the fact that they are a prime target for suicide bombers.  A portion of the Enclave, distant from the oil fields, could be used as a training camp – still in Iraq but safe from the on-going fighting. 


In addition, the Enclave could make the difference in determining whether Iraqi soldiers and police are successful in fighting insurgents.  American air support is of critical importance in the operations of the soldiers we train when they are back in the field.   The Enclave will provide the most secure location in Iraq for a American military airport, and that in turn will allow us to provide the air cover to the Iraqi forces.


I. Comparison with Rumsfeld’s memo


Two days before submitting his resignation, Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld sent a memo to Bush with his own list of recommendations.  Many of them suffer from the problem of trying to tell the Iraqis what is good for them, rather than listening to what Iraqis say is good for them.  Or worse, just doing what we think is good for them.


There is, however, overlap between some of his recommendations and those in the Enclave Solution:

·        “Withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions — cities, patrolling, etc. — and move U.S. forces to a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be available when Iraqi security forces need assistance.” 

The military in Iraq have been telling Rumsfeld that we must get out of policing the cities. It is good to see that he is now listening and willing to change.  Switching to QRF status out of bases in Iraq and Kuwait is similar to redeployment to the Enclave next to Kuwait.  It should be noted that QRF would aim at the al Qaeda units in Anbar province, and prevention of arms being brought into the country from aboard.

·        “Conduct an accelerated draw-down of U.S. bases.”

He says we should go from 110 bases down 10-15 by next spring and only 5 bases by July, 2007.  This is consistent with redeployment to the Enclave. 

The major difference between these recommendations and the Enclave Solution is that Rumsfeld does not consider the situation from the Iraqi viewpoint. His recommendations are not aimed at reducing the sectarian fighting.  He suggested we should get out of the cities because we are vulnerable there.  That is true, and it is one reason for leaving.  But the main reason is that our visible presence in the cities is the cause for most of hostility in general.  From an Iraqi view, the insurgents are beloved Resistance Fighters, and we are the hated Occupying Forces.  We cannot hope to predict how the Iraqis will behave if we cannot see the situation from their viewpoint.

Similarly, he recognizes the advantages to the American military to being on QRF status in secure bases, but he does not see how the establishment of a secure base, in the Enclave, could remove the most important stimulus for civil war – sectarian fighting for the oil production.

·        “Provide money to key political and religious leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period.” 

This one is pleasantly surprising.  It is, of course, very similar to my proposal for a Representative Fund.  It is surprising, however, that Rumsfeld, in this instance at least, can see the advantage to doing something in Iraq the Iraqi way.  This is the type of thinking that should be applied to the entire situation.  Sure, this is bribery from a Western, Christian perspective. But it is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in Iraq. We are not in Iraq to convert them. 

The main difference is that Rumsfeld suggests paying political and religious leaders, while the Representative Fund pays the elected Representatives on behalf of their constituencies.  Rumsfeld might have us paying Moqtada al Sadr directly.  It would probably work.  In Iraq.  But it will not sell in Peoria.  Paying money to the elected Representatives, including the Sadrists, will have the same benefits of getting support for us from al Sadr in this difficult period, but it should be more acceptable to the American public.  And it would have less danger of exploding in our face politically. There is also the difference that paying the Representatives increases their power relative to that of the political and religious leaders. 

·        “Initiate a reverse embeds program, like the Korean Katusas, by putting one or more Iraqi soldiers with every U.S. and possibly Coalition squad, to improve our units’ language capabilities and cultural awareness and to give the Iraqis experience and training with professional U.S. troops.” This is in addition to embedding U.S. trainers in Iraqi units.

There are problems with this recommendation. It ignores the power of sectarian loyalty in most Iraqis and the level of hostility to America.  It would work if we were seen as liberators, and we could count on the support of the Iraqi people to help us subdue bandits.  That is not the case.  Iraqis embedded in American units would have to be treated as spies.  The embedded Iraqis themselves would face being seen as collaborators in the future when we leave the area. 

A major reason for the failure of the Administration’s approach has been the misconceived belief that our troops would be loved as liberators and, therefore, they could interact well on a daily basis with the Iraqi people.  We should learn from this failure.  Both the embedding program and this reverse embedding program increase contacts between our soldiers and the Iraqi soldiers.  Iraqi soldiers are not that much different from the Iraqi people in general. The time has come to minimize all contact between our forces and the Iraqis.  Training is still possible, but it should be done on our terms, and in effect in our culture within the Enclave.

J. Viewed by different groups.


In addition to being acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats, we need a solution that appeals to various other groups.  A strong case for the Enclave Solution is produced by considering how it might appear to the different concerned parties.


1. The Iraqi people.

The main thing Iraqi civilians would see from the Enclave Solution is that the American soldiers are no longer in their faces:

  • No more patrols on their streets by the occupying army.
  • No more orders shouted in English.
  • No more American prisons.
  • No more humiliation from the Americans and their lack of understanding of the culture.
  • No more infidel Americans walking through their holy places – in army boots.
  • No more attacks aimed at Americans but hitting civilians.
  • No more counterattacks aimed at insurgents but hitting civilians.
  • Most Iraqis would say to both sides, “Fight each other if you must, but not in our yard!”


The Iraqis are mainly concerned about getting the occupying army out of urban areas. They are not particularly concerned where they, just as long as they go.  When Maliki demanded that we leave the cities, he probably assumed the troops would be moved to bases located in remote areas of the country.  There are advantages to the Iraqis of having a strong American presence in Iraq:

  • Preventing invasion from neighboring countries. The Iraqi army at present could not defend the country against take over by Iran, Syria, or Turkey – all of which could find excuses for an invasion.
  • Keeping a lid on the civil war.  Sectarian fighting may not stop, but American control of the air space and quick reaction forces could prevent large scale fighting with advanced weapons.

Historically, occupying armies in urban areas have stimulated much more hatred and resistance than the have foreign military bases in remote areas.  Civilians are not bothered greatly by bases; if there are conflicts, they are almost all caused by interactions between the soldiers at the bases and the population. It is not the Cuban people who are complaining about Quantanamo. 


The area of the Enclave is not a pleasant place to live.  The Iraqi people would enjoy the idea that the Americans are going from Saddam’s palaces and the Green Zone in general to a harsh desert region.


The view of Iraqis to the next step in the plan – having Americans protect and develop the southern Iraqi oil fields – is completely dependent upon whether we can prove to them that we will give all the profits back to the Iraqis.  This is not going to be easy, but it is of paramount importance that the Iraqis believe this will happen from the beginning.  There are initial steps that we can do, such as placing in escrow an amount sufficient to cover quarterly profits. Monitoring by the UN or some international organization that is trusted by the Iraqis would help.  This is the key question for determining the success of the plan.  The main criticism to the Enclave Solution has been a knee-jerk denial that America could be trusted.  This negative image of the honesty of the American government must be overcome, not only for the sake of Iraq but for the sake of America itself.  Great diplomatic efforts must be made to solve this problem. It is a solvable problem.  The methods for assuring compliance with a financial contract are available.  But we Americans cannot start off arrogantly with the assumption that we will be trusted.  We must face the reality that America has to earn the trust of much of the world today.


If we are trusted, there are great benefits to the Iraqi people from American protection and development of the southern oil field:

  • No more theft of oil at least from the 71% coming from the Enclave.  
  • No more sabotage of these facilities.
  • Eliminating the possibility that any one faction will grab control of all of the oil and then using it to control the other factions.
  • Reduction of the risk of civil war being triggered by sectarian fighting for the oil.
  • Modernization of oil production facilities, in a manner preventing graft and corruption.
  • Sufficient natural gas, gasoline, and other products of refining for all Iraqi requirements; elimination of the black markets.  
  • Greatly increased oil production, taking advantage of high prices, and providing ample funds for reconstruction.


The Iraqi people respect American technology.  At the beginning of the war, they had a demonstration of its power to accomplish the tasks for which it is suited, including clearing deserts.  So long as they are getting the profit, the Iraqis would be happy to have Americans using their advanced technology for protecting and developing the oil.


The Iraqi soldiers and their families would be pleased to get their salaries regularly.  This increases the loyalty of the soldiers and decreases the risk to civilians. 


All three factions would be pleased by the decreased risk of the army being taken over by one of them and used to suppress the other two.  Everyone would be pleased by the lessening of chances of civil war with individual Army units flipping from national to sectarian loyalty.


The Iraqis in general would be pleased by a return of the familiar situation with petrodollars flowing down political lines to the people. 


Finally, the partition of power will be pleasing to each faction.  Sunnis will be happy that they are not controlled by a Shiite government; Shiites will be happy they are not again dominated by Sunni leaders; Kurds will be pleased that they have neither Sunnis nor Shiites above them. 


2. The Iraqi leaders.

The Iraqi Representatives would be pleased by their increased power resulting from their administration of the payments to their constituencies.   Since they are elected officials, they probably believe in democracy; consequently, they would be pleased by increase in power to elected leaders rather than religious or military leaders, even it they personally might be out of office at the time.


Maliki and others in the central government will lose power to the Representatives.  Maliki probably would consider that a small price to pay to avoid civil war, to get the occupying armies out of the cities, and to free the oil fields from the Sunni paramilitaries.


Few if any of the faction leaders want a civil war.  They are being forced to it by the fear that if they do not secure the resources and power for their faction, one of the other factions will get the oil and power in order to dominate the country.   If you ask a Shiite leader does he really want the Sunnis reduced to severe poverty and subjugation by the Shiites, he would probably answer no in all honesty.   But the more important thing for him is that he does not want his people reduced to poverty and subjugation by the Sunnis.  The Sunnis did it to them before and he is sure they will try to do it again.  Therefore, he has to grab the resource himself so the Sunnis will not get them.


The one exception is al Qaeda.  Its measure of success is the number of new converts, and it increases with chaos.  Osama bin Laden would probably like the withdrawal of American forces from the cities for some reasons but not for others.  I believe he would be strongly opposed to the establishment of a strong secure American presence in the Enclave as this would help prevent the downfall of secure rule in united Iraq and also in other Islamic countries in the region.

3. The American soldiers.

It is easy to imagine how an American soldier would view the Enclave Solution.  First, they are going to get out of that urban guerrilla warfare that Saddam threatened against them when they first went in.  Many will be going home, but they are not going home in defeat.  The American military will still be the most powerful force in the region.  They will have complete control of the air over Iraq and will be able to respond in minutes.  They can prevent the regional war that might occur if we just withdrew.  A chaotic, feuding Iraq, with a weak divided army, and no air force would be a power vacuum inviting invasion from nearby countries.  The soldiers redeployed to the Enclave understand that they are needed to assure peace in the region.


True, the Enclave will be an unpleasant place to live. The work will be hard. Life will be far better than in cities. The soldiers did not enjoy being in the faces of the Iraqi civilians any better than the Iraqis enjoyed having them there. Life in the Enclave will be according to American standards. They can celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah openly. They can drink a beer in public without worry about the sensitivities of watching Iraqis.


They will be able to live in the Enclave with a high degree of security.  There probably will still be fighting, but outside of the Enclave.  They will be safe from the mortar fire that creates a nearly constant threat today.


Most important, our soldiers will be doing work that is consistent with their training, abilities, and equipment.  There are clear goals:

  • Protecting the enclave.
  • Protecting the oil fields and equipment from theft, sabotage, and sectarian take over, so long as there is a threat of civil war.
  • Increasing oil production and exports, in cooperation with contracting crews.
  • Securing control of Iraqi air space.
  • Mounting quick reaction force actions if needed.
  • Maintaining international security in the center of the Middle East.


This is an important job, but one the American military can do.


4. Oil field workers.

The Enclave Solution should be popular with the construction crews repairing and developing the southern Iraqi oil fields. Currently there is great frustration. It is dangerous work even in completely peaceful surroundings, but it is nearly impossible with bombs and bullets surrounding them.  Furthermore, the work they do one day may be blown up the next.  There has been little or no progress over the course of the war.  


In the Enclave, however, the crews will have the satisfaction of seeing their work bear fruit. Like the soldiers, they will be using the abilities for which they were trained.  They will no longer be living in fear of being kidnapped, shot, or tortured. In addition to living with great security, the crews will also enjoy being able to live essentially within their own culture.  The pay, although under tight control, will be consistent with the skill needed. 


5. Consumers around the world.

Bringing the Enclave oil fields back into potential full production will help ease the current instability in the oil markets.  Developing of marginal petroleum sources as well as alternative energy sources and conservation measures has now started on a large scale.  It will continue provided there is no precipitous drop in oil prices.  There is, however, a delay before they can have much impact.  In the meantime, there is a period when critical demand is close to the available supply.  As a result, the price of oil is susceptible to even small isolated factors around the world.  The high instability, more than expected high prices, is a danger to economies around the world.  Iraqi oil in the next few years could fill gap. 


Consumers in Peking and in Peoria can be confident of filling the tanks of their new cars.  Prices are high, but stable.  Next time they will buy a hybrid, but for now they do not need to worry whether there will be fuel.


K. An analogy


Imagine two possibilities.

1. You are in a room with three rowdy, hungry boys and one big cake.  And you leave the room.

2. You are in a room with three rowdy, hungry boys and one big cake.  You take the cake over into a corner (next to the door), and give each boy an equal slice, telling them they can have more in a while if they behave.


In the first case, there almost certainly will be fighting over the cake.  That is Iraq if we just leave.


In the second case, the risk of the boys fighting against each other is minimized.  Indeed they probably will behave.  There remains some chance they all three will turn against us.  We should be able to defend ourselves properly.  If not, well, that is why we are next to the door. 


L. Thinking like politicians


I have emphasized two points about how to find a novel and more effective solution:


1. We must stop focusing on the single line of how many American soldiers should be in Iraq.


2. We must consider different viewpoints: that of the Iraqi people, the US military, etc. 


But whose viewpoint is responsible for that one line along which thought has focused?


Think about it. Bush has been saying “stay the course” with 140,000 soldiers in Iraq.  He criticizes the politicians he says want to “cut and run”, bringing the number to zero. McCain says 500,000.  Some Democrats are saying 50,000 or 70,000.

This line is politicians’ line.  The thing they can control most easily is the number of soldiers they send to Iraq.  The line marks the possible actions from a politician’s viewpoint.


The result, however, is that practically everyone else has had their thinking restricted to the dimension of American politicians.  Frightening! 


Furthermore, the nature of debate about the points on the politicians’ line has created a strange phenomenon: it has made compromise impossible.  If you are buying a house with the seller asking $140,000, and you offer $100,000, you can expect the seller to offer $130,000; you say $110,000; and you settle at $120,000. 


When Bush was confronted with what was generally agreed was a demand by the voters to start bringing the soldiers home, he did not make an offer of 130,000, thus sending 10,000 home.  In fact, he went in the opposite direction to compromise; he suggested increasing the number of troops at least temporarily.  He needed to do something – the voters had demanded it.  The one thing he could do easily was to change the number of soldiers.  He could not, however, make any reduction because that was in the direction of cut and run which he had condemned repeatedly.  The only thing left for him to do was to increase the number. 


The sad projection from this is that the number of troops will be progressively increased at least for the next two years.  This really is the only option for change the Administration has so long as only solutions along the politicians’ line are considered.


M. Not inconsistent with a surge in troop strength


Simply an increase in the number of American soldiers is unlikely to improve the situation.  If a patrol today had 14 soldiers, with the surge it would have 16.  Or instead of 140 patrols, there could be 160.  Even the administration admits that the increase will produce an increase in the amount of fighting, the number of civilians killed, and the number of Americans killed.  The hoped that the increase would be temporary but reporters were unable to get an answer to how many years the increase would continue.


A temporary surge in troop strength could, however, be consistent with the Enclave Solution.   The transition period of redeployment to the Enclave is a time of increased risk.  Similarly, Rumsfeld’s recommendations to “withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions — cities, patrolling, etc.” and to decrease the number of bases this spring create a period of increased vulnerability.  During this time, it would be wise to have a few more soldiers available to help with the moving and provide us with greater security during the move.  A 20% increase would not make much difference in policing Baghdad, but it could be very beneficial for assuring the safe redeployment. In line with Rumsfeld’s recommendation, the redeployment could be done in six months, so that would be the maximum duration of the surge.


N. Implications for al Qaeda

The major problem America has faced in dealing with al Qaeda has been caused by a flat denial of its true nature by the administration, and thus a failure to understand this true enemy and an inability to predict its actions.  Consequently, the administration apparently really believed that al Qaeda was working with Saddam, rather than the two being archenemies.  This topic has been covered separately. 


The situation today is that al Qaeda now is in Iraq.   The future developments of al Qaeda are dependent to some extent upon what happens in Iraq.  Bush is probably correct that al Qaeda would benefit from a complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. On the other hand, al Qaeda has benefited greatly from the American occupation of Iraq, by the hatred of the occupation army, by the very negative PR from US prisons and US treatment of Iraqi civilians.  Al Qaeda will continue to grow and benefit from US forces in Iraqi cities; more soldiers in the cities will produce more benefit.


Osama bin Laden has outlined clearly their plans.  First was the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein and his powerful restrictive secular rule.


Osama said, just before the US invasion of Iraq, that next al Qaeda fighters would enter Iraq to join with their Islamic brother to combat the occupying American army. In the same speech, he said the step after that was the overthrow of other secular governments in Arab countries: Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.


The Enclave Solution is contrary to al Qaeda goals.  First, redeployment of our forces out of contact with civilians will stop the flow of al Qaeda recruitment stories produced by the occupation. Second, the maintenance of a strong American base in the Enclave will strengthen the secular governments. From Osama perspective in the hills of Pakistan, as he is looking west each day to Mecca, the Enclave lies in the center of his envisioned new caliphate.


Another obstacle to the growth of al Qaeda is the establishment of a strong economy in Iraq.  If we can get oil production going at its full potential, and the resulting revenues flowing into Iraq, the country will become a model of western consumerism.  Whether Iraq can become a model democracy in the near future is debatable, but there is no doubt that most Iraqis would gladly accumulate all the material possession of the Western world, despite protests from Islamic fundamentalists. 


0. Conclusions


I admit it: Bush bashing is fun.   I suspect Rush Limbaugh gets a lot of fun out bashing liberals. It’s time, however, to move away from these fun and games. The Iraq situation is serious. It is critical that we find a solution.  There seems to be general agreement that the Baker-Hamilton paper has some good ideas but is not sufficient for getting us out of the quagmire in Iraq. Nor are Rumsfeld’s recommendations.  Something more powerful, more original is needed. Above all, the solution must be attractive to most if not all interested groups.


We have to go off of that “politicians’ line” if we want to find a solution that will be acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats.  We must consider the goals of the other side, and we must be considerate of the people having those goals.


So let me start by saying that if I have insulted any conservative, neo-conservative, or Republican individuals or groups by my wording or ideas, I apologize.  I have tried to see the situation from your point of view, among others.  I have tried to fashion a proposal that satisfies what I have seen as your major concerns. In particular, the Enclave Solution provides America with a powerful land base in a critical spot in the Middle East.  It exerts American control over a pivotal resource, Iraqi oil, but in a fair, just, and unselfish manner – what we naturally see as the American manner.  As with the Marshal Plan after WWII, we have the possibility of demonstrating to the world that this really is the American way.  It would be absolutely critical that we live up to such expectations, but I am confident Americans can succeed in doing so.  I also want to apologize to Lt. Col. Mazin Yousif for depicting him as a Sunni supporter.  He is said to be secular.  It probably does not matter, however, because the Shiite militia that were infiltrating his paramilitary organization almost certainly see Yousif as a Sunni and thus as an enemy.  Thus they fight against him, and he must fight against them, just as if he were a Sunni separatist.  If the civil war intensifies, he will be seen more and more as a Sunni and will be forced to act along sectarian lines. Similarly, Maliki may indeed be thinking and acting only for the well being of all Iraqis.  It makes little difference.  His actions are being seen as those of a Shiite sectarian, favoring Shiites above the other factions.  To the extent that the Sunnis and Kurds see him as a Shiite, and oppose him as such, he will be forced to act as a Shiite. It is the nature of civil wars.


There are many things that nearly all of us can agree upon.  I think we all would like to have the number of troops in Iraq reduced drastically.  Stop the repeated call ups.  Remove those troops that are still in Iraq as much as possible from risk of harm, but perhaps even more important, remove them from the frustration of the quagmire.  Give them goals they can understand and hope to achieve. 


To be honest, we Americans are more concerned about our own casualties than those of the Iraqis.  (And the majority of Iraqis are not that unhappy at having Americans get killed.) Nevertheless, everyone agrees that full scale civil war should be avoided.  We should try to understand the reasons for there being a civil war and then do whatever we can to remove those factors we can influence.  Those prizes that the factions are fighting over should be removed from reach.  The more valuable the prize, the more important it is to remove if from sectarian competition.  The most valuable prize is the oil. If you project forward from the present situation, almost every path leads to full scale sectarian fighting over oil production.  If this rivalry over oil is not settled, civil war is probably inevitable.   There is a rather high probability that the civil war would expand to include neighboring countries. 


The only way to prevent sectarian fighting over oil is to make it clearly impossible for any one faction to take the oil away from the other two and at the same time provide a believable promise to all three factions that they will get a fair share of the profits.


I agree that this should be a job for a powerful international organization.  I think it makes a good argument for development of such a powerful international organization.  The United Nations could be made into such a force.  America should not be the policeman for the world.  Etc. 


There is only one reason why America should do the job: there is no one else today who can do it.  The reality on the ground now is that the American military is the only power sufficient to protect the Iraqi oil and prevent civil war over it.  Admittedly, this horrible situation is one of our making.  But we are past the debate over about whether Iraq has WMDs and whether we should invade it.


It didn’t.


We did. 


And here we are.  With the risk of civil and regional war in our hands. 


The Enclave Solution provides us with the means to decrease that risk in several ways:

  1. It removes the provocation to violence from an occupying army in urban areas.  Insurgent attacks can no longer use the excuse that they were aimed at the Americans.
  2. It prevents oil and oil revenue from being the prize for winning a civil war.
  3. It secures payment of the Iraqi army while removing it from possible sectarian control.
  4. It partitions power so no Iraqi is governed by a leader from another faction.
  5. It maintains Iraq as a single country.
  6. It retains a powerful American force in Iraq to “keep the lid” on the situation.
  7. It improves the Iraqi economy and encourages reconstruction.


The most important part of the Enclave Solution is removal of American soldiers from the urban areas and contact with the Iraqi people, for the sake of both the Iraqis and the troops.  The other parts of the Enclave Solution provide a comprehensive plan with advantages such as decreasing the risk of war, but their most important function is to making the redeployment possible and acceptable to all parties concerned.


[1] One advantage to our modern Western culture – beyond our weapons – is our medicine. I once made the proposal to an Israeli doctor that their hospitals should open their doors to Arab patients and to Arab medical students.  Israel could become a giant Mayo Clinic for the Middle East.”  I later was told that the proposal eventually was suggested to Arafat, but he spat on the floor and then said, “When will you stop trying to tell us what is good for us.  We will tell you what is good for us.”  I must admit he was right.