The warlord option?

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Meanwhile, in other “Iraqi vs. Iraqi” news, Pamela Hess reports that Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq are starting to turn against many of the more vicious Iraqi insurgents—both foreign and homegrown. Hess notes that the U.S. military commanders have actually been encouraging the intra-Sunni violence of late: In Fallujah, for instance, after insurgents killed Lt. Col. Sulaiman Hamad Ftikan, a member of the Dulaimi tribe, Marine Col. Jean Toolan says, “We tried to sanction a little bit of tribal interest in finding out who was responsible for Sulaiman’s death, specifically.” It worked, and the Dulaimis hunted down and murdered the culprits.

Judging from Hess’ reporting, it seems that this sort of approach is likely to become more common in the future. There are real divisions among the Sunni tribes, and rivalries among different tribes, all of which can be exploited by the U.S. Something along the lines of: “We’ll give you money and guns if you stop supporting these foreign fighters; if you don’t, we’ll go talk to these rival sheikhs.” Indeed, security experts like Daniel Byman have suggested this sort of strategy in lieu of a real counterinsurgency campaign, which would require far more troops than the U.S. can possibly commit to Iraq.

The only problem here is that these tribal sheikhs aren’t at all willing to work with the U.S.—or the Shi’ites or Kurds—on the larger goal of a unified Iraqi government. In essence, then, the U.S. would be promoting the warlordization of Iraq, as it did in Afghanistan, in order to weed out the most immediate enemy—namely, the ex-Baathists and foreign jihadists who are leading the anti-American fighters in Iraq. In other words, they tamp down the insurgency at the risk of locking in the rule of the gun and possible sectarian strife.

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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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