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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why we must stay in Iraq

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani:

There is no more important international issue today than the need to defeat the curse of terrorism. And as the first democratically elected president of Iraq, I have a responsibility to ensure that the world's youngest democracy survives the inherently difficult transition from totalitarianism to pluralism. A transformation of the Iraqi state and Iraqi society is impossible without a sustained commitment of soldiers from the United States and other democracies. To understand why, let us recall how we reached this juncture in history. How is it that Iraq today has a democratically elected head of state, government and Parliament? How it is that members of the most repressed ethnic groups now hold the highest offices of state? All these welcome developments are a result of the courage and vision of President Bush and his allies, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard, leaders whose commitment of troops to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions liberated Iraq. Without foreign intervention, the transition in Iraq would have been from Saddam's bloodstained hands to his psychopathic offspring. Instead, thanks to American leadership, Iraqis have been given an opportunity of peaceful, participatory politics. Contrary to the new conventional wisdom, Iraq and the history of 20th-century Europe demonstrate that force of arms can implant democracy in the most arid soil.
Read the whole thing.


Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

The military intervention in Iraq will not spawn a liberal democracy anytime soon.

Talabani and the Kurds had an autonomous region in the North since the end of the first Gulf War, with the U.S. and U.K. maintaining a no-fly zone so Saddam's military couldn't go up and trash the place.

I suppose we did that, to some degree, out of guilt. After the first Gulf War we encouraged the Kurds in the North and Shia in the South to rebel against Saddam. However, we didn't assist, and the rebellions were crushed.

The Kurds and Shia now control the Country. What will probably happen is at best a loose Federalism with a defacto partitioning of Iraq into a Northern Kurdish State, a Shia State in the South, and a Sunni minority trapped in the center with few resources. The Kurds and Shia are simply maneuvering for territory, with the Kurds, in particular, etending their territorial strong-hold to the South; ever closer to Baghdad.

The political dynamics are a mixture of tribalism and religious fanaticism. Liberal Democratic, secular motivations and politics remain an external imposition of Western influence.

It is also difficult to overlook the historical hypocisy in the Republican advocates new-found desire to spread democracy at the point of a bayonnet. And, for that matter, their interest in miltarily confronting terrorists at all.

During the Clinton administration, strikes agains al Qaida (Iraq had nothing to do with al Qaida... totally different issue) were, according the Republicans, political maneuvers to distract from Lewinsky scandals.

Similary, when Saddam ejected UN inspectors in 1998, the Republicans suggested Clinton's military actions against Saddam were designed to politically distract from their impending vote for impeachment.


Awe shucks.

So, igoring the strategic blunder of actually selecting Iraq as the next best action in the war on terror, and ignoring the incompetent prosecution of the war due to panglossian predictions regarding its requirements, cost and probable outcome, the Republican apologists are no more than sychophants attempting to depict the whole misguided affair in an altruistic, messianic light.

9/23/2005 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

We will probably have to agree to disagree on this Ghost Dansing.

I find your view of history to be somewhat flawed and selective and your projections of the future to be unlikely. However, as you have probably already heard all the arguements I would make, and I am well aware of the arguements you would make I don't know that going into the details of where I think you are wrong would be productive.

9/23/2005 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

The facts on the ground are unfolding before our eyes. Just sit back and watch. Of course, we could be re-playing an old movie; rhetoric and all.

The British were in Iraq after WWI. A system of what President Wilson euphemistically called "mandates" (basically colonies) were handed out by an American commission following the war. These mandates covered miscellanous pieces of turf from empires on the losing side of WWI (German, Austrian and Turkish). Britain got Mesopotamia (renamed Iraq) and everybody's favorite trouble spot, Palestine (Britain set Jews in the territory to rule over the Arabs, memories of which are still a source of some trouble).

They came as liberators but were met by fierce resistance outside Baghdad. Humiliating treatment of prisoners and heavy-handed action in Najaf and Fallujah further alienated the local population. A planned handover of power proved unworkable. Britain's 1917 occupation of Iraq holds uncanny parallels with today.

Iraq was created by the British out of the Kurdish north, the Sunni centre and the Shia south. Britain's colonial policies forced the three groups together into one country. It proved to be an unworkable arrangement.

Incompetent colonial rule of the British left the country in a shambles of weak and ineffective government. It didn't matter that the British had tried their best to build sound administrative structures… nor did it matter that they had trained a police force and helped write a constitution. They came to be hated, even by those Iraqis who had profited from their conquest and rule.

When the British left and a new Iraqi government assumed power, it was amid chaos, public demonstrations, assassination and rebellion. The new government, installed with British support early in 1948, tried a variety of tactics. It appeased the rebels, gave in to popular demonstrations, undermined the authority of the British-trained police and at one point imposed martial law. Corruption ran rampant. Intolerable inflation, bringing hardship and poverty to millions.

The situation in the late 1940s was complicated by the twin strategic problems of the Cold War and the growing appetite of the Europeans and Americans for oil. It was further complicated by popular opposition to the partition of Palestine.

Today, there are still strategic problems. There is still popular resentment in Iraq at what happened to Palestine; and the Cold War has been replaced by the "War on Terror," for which the "colonizers" are unable to find a deterrent. And, as in the 1940s, Iraq itself continues to be plagued by internal religious, ethnic and tribal division.

Thus, the root issues of the internal dynamics in Iraq are the direct result of western colonial gerrymandering.

The Senior Bush had advisors that were quite aware of the history during the Gulf War, and that formed part of the reasoning for not pursuing an invasion of Iraq itself. To some degree Saddam is demonstrably correct. Strongman politics have historically been required to hold Iraq together as a single nation. The strongman doesn't have to be Saddam, however either one will appear or the country will fracture.

At any rate, all of that pole vaults over this fact in current history-in-the-making.

Dubya and his neocons have made a strategic blunder of breathtaking proportions. And rather than make Americans more safe from Islamic Extremist Terrorism, they have re-ignited the flame, and created a new recruiting and training ground for an entire new generation of terrorists; much as the Afghan struggle against the Soviets was the breeding ground form al Qaeda.

They're incompetent.

9/23/2005 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I have made some related pointshere

9/26/2005 06:31:00 AM  

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