‘Turning Point’ in Iraq? Probably Not.

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The New York Times reports that the Army has set up mock Iraqi villages here in California so that soldiers can practice fighting insurgents. Presumably that means that the military is already planning to dig in and stay in Iraq for a long time, despite the odd rumors of a massive drawdown. On the other hand, this interview suggests that no matter how adept the military gets at counterinsurgency, the larger overall strategy in Iraq is so incoherent that it probably won’t do much good:

“There is a paradox in the approach,” said Kalev Sepp, a former Special Forces officer and one of the most vocal proponents for changing the Army. “The training in the United States and in Iraq is teaching all the right things — decentralization of authority and responsibility to the lowest levels, engagement with the Iraqi population, cultural awareness and political sensitivity — the full broad range of measures needed to defeat the insurgency.”

“But on the ground,” Mr. Sepp said in an interview, “the troops are being moved onto these large consolidated bases and being drawn away from the population just at point that they have been trained to engage them.” Nowhere are the changes in the Army’s thinking more visible than at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post ran the headline, “Merits of Partitioning Iraq or Allowing Civil War Weighed” over the weekend and now today Sen. Joe Biden chimes in with a plan to split Iraq up into three separate countries. Juan Cole thinks it’s a bad idea and has his own proposal for partition. The idea that the United States, under this administration, could handle anything like the “peaceful” break-up of a country deftly strikes me as totally unrealistic, not to mention potentially horrifying (it’s worth noting that Biden’s model for partition, the Dayton Accords, failed to resolve the Kosovo issue, which indirectly led to yet another round of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans only five years later), but that seems to be what the experts all think.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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