Thursday, August 23, 2007

The National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq

The Fourth Rail has obtained a copy of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Bill Roggio makes a copy available for download. Please note that this the declassified version.

Excerpts of the NIE have been printed by the major wire services. Here is an example of one of those stories.

I call that a very interesting selection of excerpts.

Let's provide some balance, shall we?

The IC assesses that the emergence of “bottom-up” security initiatives, principally among Sunni Arabs and focused on combating AQI, represent the best prospect for improved security over the next six to 12 months, but we judge these initiatives will only translate into widespread political accommodation and enduring stability if the Iraqi Government accepts and supports them. A multi-stage process involving the Iraqi Government providing support and legitimacy for such initiatives could foster over the longer term political reconciliation between the participating Sunni Arabs and the national government. We also assess that under some conditions “bottom-up initiatives” could pose risks to the Iraqi Government.

Fair enough--The "bottom up" phenomenon that I have been pounding on for months does appear to be "the best" prospect, and of course it poses risks. No solution envisioned under these conditions of uncertainty is risk-free. The alternative "top-down" approach has already shown itself to be an unmitigated disaster. Given the promise that has been shown by the ordinary Iraqis joining forces to solve problems nonviolently, I'll take my chances backing the "bottom-up" approach.

We assess that changing the mission of Coalition forces from a primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counterterrorist operations to prevent AQI from establishing a safehaven would erode security gains achieved thus far. The impact of a change in mission on Iraq’s political and security environment and throughout the region probably would vary in intensity and suddenness of onset in relation to the rate and scale of a Coalition redeployment. Developments within the Iraqi communities themselves will be decisive in determining political and security trajectories.

Well what do you know. The "redeployment" plan being pushed by the left's leading candidates for the Presidential Nomination is, to put it un-diplomatically, a cluster fuck waiting to happen. At least in the eyes of the entire Intel Community. The small-footprint, counterterrorism-only approach is what got us the al-Askirya Mosque bombing, AQI contamination of Anbar, Diyala and the "Baghdad Belts," and a solid year and a half of sectarian bloodshed. Counterterrorism lives and dies by intelligence gathering, and you can't gather intelligence from terrified civilians when your forces never come out of the wire.

Regardless of what next months's report by the administration says, the NIE makes the strongest case yet for continuing the counterinsurgency tactics adopted earlier this year. The gains made to date have come at a costly toll, indeed. We can't afford to give those gains back.

Mucho gracias to Bill Roggio for snagging a copy of the document and making it available.