Monday, May 22, 2006
Iraq: when will the 'fantasy' of occupation be abandoned?
A rash of news on Iraq plus comment on our role therein leads me to address the topic for today's post. First a few preliminary points.
1. If a nation is going to go to war in the teeth of divided opinion at home and abroad, it had better go on to win said war both swiftly and conclusively.
2. Sticking to one's task, however bleak the prospects, on the grounds that one's cause is right might have worked for Churchill in 1940 but cannot be embraced as a universal principle. How much more apalling would Vietnam have been if Nixon had not finally accepted political reality and sued for peace, albeit a pretty humiliating one in the end?
3. The civil rights arguments for regime change were powerful but the false WMD rationale was hugely undermining of US-UK legitimacy.
4. The US seemed to have no thorough plan for occupancy and has subsequently failed to get hold of the situation.
So, should we stick it out indefinitely, as our government argues, 'until ther job is done' or accept we've failed and make plans to withdraw?
Blair flies to Washington today to discuss the viability of Mr Maliki's new national unity government. He has expressed bullish views about the ability of the new set-up to overcome the insurgency by the end of the year; Mr Maliki himself has promised 'maximum force' to effect this. However, last March, following the spring elections which established similar momentum, Gen Abizard, in charge of US forces in the region, predicted an optimistic outcome which has has by no means materialised.
Madeleine Bunting, in today's Guardian has no doubts that the 'war on terror' has been the 'most catastrophic blunder in half a century of British and American foreign policy', proving wholly counter-productive in terms of terror whilst alientating most of the rest of the world. Instead we have a daily death toll of some 35 in March- mostly victims of the most horrifically brutal militia killings whereby Shias and Sunnis seek to out terrorize the other(picture is of restaurant where three dozen were killed by suicide bombers). She notes that the likes of Andrew Sullivan and David Aaronovitch have now recanted but that the rest of the original pro-war 'cheerleaders'- presumably the likes of Nick Cohen and Norman Geras- have yet to do so.
Others have long ago decided the game was up and that we ought to withdraw. Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times argues that: we should accept that the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds will accept nothing short of partition; that we should abandon our 'fantasy'of occupation; and get out now. Such expedition might seem a bit too hasty but the stage must surely be approaching when a 'Nixonian' end to the conflict is deemed less harmful than continuing with what has become a murderous charade.
U.S. Central Command Public Affairs
...The fallacy of ideology?
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