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.

Comments:
Indeed. I hold little optimism for a government which has remarkably poor services behind it, particularly the (often corrupt)police force. The only hope is that, since the three main religious divisions in Iraq are represented in the said government, the reasonable majority will begin to support a peaceful unitary solution. My fear is that it will take time for many Iraqis to understand the concept of consociational democracy, given the years of subjugation they suffered under Saddam.
 
Dead right and I'm not at all sure having represntation in government will stay the hand of the extremists and off the wall criminals who have flourished in the chaos of the last three years.
 
Unfortunately a lot of what happens in Iraq is overlooked: www.centcom.mil

Sgt. Gehlen
U.S. Central Command Public Affairs
 
I was particularly struck when reading this article (http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0313-23.htm) of the comparison, seemingly perverse, between neoconservatism and communism. Francis Fukuyama admits the assumption that "democracy was the default condition to which societies reverted once coercive regime change occurred". The Soviets similarly employed Marxist-Leninist theory in predicting the rise of communism across Europe in the late 1940s. Each doctrine thus assumed itself to be infallible; so infallible that others would soon see the error of their ways, and convert to the doctrine in question.

...The fallacy of ideology?
 
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