Back during the high tide of the “is the surge working?” debate, I was among those who kept worrying that the policy of funding Sunni “Sons of Iraq” militias who hadn’t by any means reconciled themselves (or vice-versa) to the idea of a Shiite-led Iraqi state seemed like something likely to blow up at the end of the day. Then it kept not happening, and attention sort of shifted to other grounds. But now as DDay observes, we’re seeing some blowups as Sunnis are not getting paid money they were promised, the government arrested a Sons of Iraq leader, and now some SOI folks have staged an armed uprising.
Perhaps this will boil over, more likely some way will be found to put a lid on things. But either way, fundamental questions about the nature of the Iraqi state continue to be unresolved. Part of the issue over “residual forces” is whether or not we think it’s smart to have the US military perpetually playing referee in these kind of disputes. Doing so will give us continued “influence” in the country and the region, but the costs will be high and the concrete benefits to American citizens are hard to see.