Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What do we know about U.S. responsibility to Iraqis?

We know that the public justification of the invasion of Iraq -- weapons of mass destruction and ties with Al Qaeda -- proved false. We know that following the destruction of the Iraqi military, the United States and the United Kingdom disbanded the remains of the military and that their "DeBathification" fired thousands of workers from the Iraqi government, and that government services suffered as a result. We know that the United States and the United Kingdom, especially through the Coalition Provisional Authority, undertook a massive reorganization of the Iraqi economy and of Iraqi institutions. We know that in the years following the invasion security has been inadequate, and the insurgency has increased dramatically. We know that tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, and that the Iraqi economy and infrastructure are a mess.

It certainly appears now that the strategy of the Coalition is to build a strong military presence, with large numbers of Iraqis in domestic forces supported by foreign advisers and troops. We know that Iraq has never know a real democratic government, and that its population is deeply divided along ethnic, cultural and religious lines. We know that many U.S. interventions in the past, in societies with at least some similarities to Iraq, have resulted in military-supported dictators imposing order on the country then ruling badly and postponing the introduction of democratic governance for long periods.

We know Colin Powell said at the outset of the war:
If You Break it, You Pay For It, Mr. President

What are the implications of this knowledge?

The people of the United States have incurred a responsibility to the people of Iraq! We now have to figure out how best to fulfill that responsibility.

I don't think that slogans are the best way to approach that analysis.

I do think that the people of the United States have a duty to the people of Iraq to keep troops there as long as they will do more good than harm. We certainly have a duty to do the best we can to help the Iraqis to rebuild their institutions and to reestablish stability. We also have a more general obligation to undo as much as possible of the damage resulting as a result of our government's interventions.

1 comment:

wiredbrain said...

Stuck, trapped:

The reason there is no consensus on Iraq is there is no exit. The “stay the courses” messages from the high command are because there are not real alternatives to defeat. There is no way to victory only more or less painful defeats. As a British General said “we can’t win and we can’t be defeated and we can’t just leave, so we are stuck” This mess was fully predictable. It was the reason the First Gulf war did not end in Baghdad was because it was all too clear to planners the overwhelming problems of any stable government after regime change under foreign occupation.

Is the current mess due to immovable conflicts between religious and social groups augmented by outside interests or was it possible to make less painful transitions?
Or if the
1.) Invasion has enough troops to avoid the massive looting and stripping of the infrastructure,
2.) kept the Iraqi army in some sort of operation,
3.) Avoided massive Debathification,
4.) Had avoided making the transitional government an agent of Shiite militias and parties, and
5.) Had not used the occupation for the employment of unqualified political appointees, 6.) Had used the money from the oil for peace program in a rational manner, had awarded reconstruction contracts to a wider variety of contractors with better controls,
7.) Used the State Departments planning rather than kept everything in the DOD
8.) and a few dozen other stupid mistakes under the command of the civilian leadership of the pentagon.

The fault of the Bush neo-con bunch was to ignore reality and “cut to the quick” with ideology and passion for action taking over from thoughts and fears which make “cowards of us all”. So “we are, where we are” and have no good choices. Senator Levin and his allies have the least unpleasant policy. The Iraqization of the war is the same policy as in Vietnam “secret plan to end the war” which was to give us a decent interval as we retreated from that lost cause. In Vietnam we had states as enemies, in Iraq the enemy is civil war and chaos. The reality is how to limit the disaster since we can not prevent it.

We announce we are going to “reemploy” to strategic bases. We speed up mobilization of Iraq security forces. Britain's Top Soldier Sparks Storm with Call to Withdraw from Iraq Soon. General Sir Richard Dannatt, chief of the general staff, told the Daily Mail newspaper that the army's presence was "exacerbating" Britain's security problems both in Iraq and around the world. The Shiite government will continue to conduct a war with the Sunni with or without the occupation. Civil wars end when the one of the two sides or both sides become stalemated and worn out.