We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I looked at the original problems in Baquba and Diyala late last year in response to Phil Carter's article at Inteldump. I had expected a bit more of an ordered progression on JaM and AQI, but this way, staging both the Ring Offensive (seen at Bill Roggio's) and Operations Arrowhead Ripper together may just be the solid gut-blow to the Sunni and al Sadr portions of the insurgency needed there to finally put them on the ropes for good and all. Someone has got to end that latter portion and get the cleanup of Basra and environs started.
Still that original line of thought led to getting a handle on the strategy in Iraq and why the oil drop doesn't work with the conditions we have. Theater level strategy to set the goals for the entire operation, from what I have seen at least, have not changed since 2004... that is because they are workable, given the constraints of manpower, supplies and lack of on-the-ground necessities which require a working Iraqi government and buy-in from the people of Iraq. That strategy has dealt more with that over the past 3 years than fighting and now we get to see results of multiple (about 7 or 8 I think) Iraqi infantry divisions taking part in and leading most of this operation, along with 3 Peshmerga divisions, plus the 10,000 MNF, and various regional factions that are now signing on to the government.
Getting Anbar right was key to this and so was finally getting Ramallah safer and operational as a city again. Iraq is on a road to stability although it may never be *peaceful*. Turkey is in that exact, same boat, but over reliant upon its Army to keep things straight. Iraq is in a vice between Iran and Syria and that will keep it far from peaceful for some years or possibly decades onwards. Getting Iraq stable and self-governing is essential to the larger, global conflict. Not sufficient in, and of, itself to win, but without some stability there and accountable government, the end road for the world is a very, very bad one. As it is Afghanistan and Iraq are both defensive operations on the larger conflict. Necessary, but not sufficient to survival.
Buddy - It is cheaper in one sense for the enemy, and that is in arms. Since mid-way last year I have characterized the 'insurgency' as: arms rich and people poor. When MNF, IA and ISF troops were finding literal tons of explosives, arms, and equipment (with one cache coming in at 65 tons of same) and doing that over and over, you know you have a group that has lots of cash, but not so many people. When Ray Robison brought up the idea of terrorism on the decline, I did demur somewhat ( http://ajacksonian.blogspot.com/2007/05/terrorists-on-decline.html ).
What is being seen in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Kashmir/Tajikistan and Iraq are related, but not connected. Until the person-to-person interlinkages between the Muslim Brotherhood and the larger panoply of terrorist groups begins to break down, we will not see terrorism decline. Friction in both areas have different basis due to locales involved, but the Iraqi situation is telling as most people do not think about the overhead that goes into running a terrorist operation. Even a highly and loosely distributed one still needs to get personnel: find, recruit, train, supply, transport, etc.
That is organizational overhead that every organization has, and terrorist organizations are not exempt. At the low end of funding one of the prime rules of organizations is that: equipment is cheap, people are expensive. Thus you can buy tons of equipment but it is much harder to acquire reliable guards for it. When a rich organization starts to run out of folks, normally you could offer more money... but for suicide bombers, that is not much of an incentive. It isn't too bad at the low end, but replacing well and highly trained mid-tier personnel is very, very, very expensive. When a commander like Mullah Dadullah goes away, that is nearly 20 years of command and control experience and combat experience gone. al Qaeda is hurting and badly in experience at this point... at all levels from finance to training to COINTEL work to bomb making... they can still train at a very basic level, but that is what they are left with: basic attacks.
So it is cheap to run an insurgency... right up to the point you start running out of people. Two more provinces going the way of Anbar should do it... and Diyala is next.