ELECTRICITY IS IMPORTANT. Kingdaddy has a fantastic post about the electricity grid in Iraq. The electricity situation has not, according to all available evidence, improved in Iraq. Yet, electricity is absolutely essential to the functioning and growth of an industrial age economy. Given this, it's hard to see how the enclave strategy (designed to produce stability and economic growth, thus removing insurgent support) can succeed. Kingdaddy:
Insurgent groups know that they can easily disrupt the highly centralized electricity distribution network, undermining the "civil affairs" side of counterinsurgency, with very little effort. Average Iraqis know that, whatever the government may say, a small group of militants can bring normal life in Iraq to a halt.
Even without a civil war to complicate matters, re-building a nation's power grid is a huge undertaking.Unfortunately, political violence isn't the only complication. Iraqi leaders undoubtedly see the centralized power grid as a tool they might use someday. US firms that receive reconstruction contracts (Bechtel, Halliburton, et al.)would rather have the economy of scale that a centralized grid provides. No one in the Iraqi government, the US government, and the foreign reconstruction firms is eager to assume responsibility for the risky, painful process of decentralization. If decentralization were to succeed, some parts of Iraq would receive visibly better electricity service than others, raising the question of whether any sectarian or ethnic groups that dominate these regions are receiving preferential treatment.
Yet again, we return to the enclave strategy that is the fulcrum on which any counterinsurgency strategy turns. The electricity grid undermines any efforts to build enclaves; without enclaves, many efforts to fix the electricity problems can't succeed.