An Answer for Iraq
The Enclave Solution
January 12, 2007
Revision after posting
at eurotrib.com and dailykos.com
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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).
- 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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.)
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
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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
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
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,
would not be partitioned. There would be
no independent Kurdistan provoking problems from the Kurds in Turkey. Iran
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.
The Enclave Solution is to use
the dependence upon petrodollars to partition the power in Iraq, but not the country
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
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
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
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
will not be bothered by a country of Kurdistan. That,
in turn, was the recipe for avoiding regional war.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
section D on Power partition in a unified
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
following plan is one of the possible methods for proportional distribution of
the oil profits:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
“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
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.
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
- 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
- No more counterattacks aimed at insurgents but
- 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,
– 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
- 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
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.
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
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.
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
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
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
should not be the policeman for the world.
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
And here we are. With the risk of civil and regional war in
The Enclave Solution provides us
with the means to decrease that risk in several ways:
- 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.
- It prevents oil and oil revenue from being the prize
for winning a civil war.
- It secures payment of the Iraqi army while removing
it from possible sectarian control.
- It partitions power so no Iraqi is governed by a
leader from another faction.
- It maintains Iraq as a single country.
- It retains a powerful American force in Iraq
to “keep the lid” on the situation.
- It improves the Iraqi economy and encourages
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.