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October 17, 2007

“Concerned Local Citizens” are counter-productive
Posted by The Editors

A special guest post, brought to you by Sean Duggan:

Colonel Wayne W. Grigsby, commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division stationed just south of Baghdad stated in a Pentagon conference call that of the 16 so called “Concerned Local Citizens” brigades in his area of operations only one consists of both Shiite and Sunni Iraqis (eight were exclusively Sunni, seven were exclusively Shi’a and only one was considered “mixed”). Instead of promoting bottom up reconciliation, these vigilantes are reinforcing inter-sectarian divisions and ensuring long-tern strategic complications for the U.S. in Iraq.


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Reconciliation in Iraq, whether from the bottom up or the top down, is a chimera. The Iraqis, beginning with the Sunni Arab-dominated insurgency, made it impossible no more recently than 20 months ago. There isn't any point in criticizing American tactical initiatives for making something that won't happen anyway less likely.

The Concerned Local Citizens initiatives are short-term measures to reduce the level of violence in specific areas, and direct the energies of some armed Iraqi groups toward action against the factions most liable to pursue attacks against Americans and mass-casualty attacks against Iraqi civilians. So far, they have evidently had some success on those terms. They don't amount to a strategy for creating a democratic Iraq or amity among Iraqis bitterly devided by that country's recent history, but they are what local American commanders can do.

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