11/21/2005: Course Corrections?
Bryan (Why Now) and I were having a bit of a haloscan discussion over the Iraq situation. In comparing historical analogies to Iraq, we wondered IF anything really would have been any different - in the long term - by removing the Iron-hand of Saddam and simply replaced that *lid* on the pot of the boiling ethnic strife between the Sunni's Sh'ia's and Kurds with US forces - could the situation have been better? IF the "how to win the peace" effort in Iraq not been totally botched form the get-go, would we still be in any less a difficult position about bringing our troops home?
That perhaps without some *Iron-handed* substitute authority to force the continued coalition of these groups to co-exist, there would be a civil war - No Matter WHAT we could have done to "nation-build" in Iraq.
Bryan aptly pointed out:
"The Kurds and Shi'ia have wanted out for a long time. All we could ever hope for was a great deal fewer deaths. That's what all the other governments knew and were afraid of happening. Those with Shi'ia minorities didn't want to see greater Iran, and those with Kurdish minorities didn't want the establishment of a Kurdish state.
This is why the Turks wouldn't provide assistance. They didn't want a Kurdish state next door with major Kurdish populations in their own eastern provinces always on the verge of revolt.
Iraq's neighbors talked Bush I out of removing Saddam, because they were sure that Iraq would break up without his repression. This is why they refused to give more aid to Bush II.
The neocons are the only ones surprised by what has happened.
But that by abruptly removing that *lid*, and never fully living up to it's replacement - an all out civil war among these groups is (would be) inevitable. We can't stop it, and have actually provided both the chaos to foment it and the incentive to the insurgency to attack us as the "occupiers" which continues today. And, to date, we still lack the numbers of US troops on the ground to prevent this violence and contain this incipient civil war.
Here is Paul Krugman (NY Times) touching on that topic and the "When, exactly, would be a good time to leave Iraq?" debate over *stay the course* versus *save our troops now*:
"...Instead, defenders of our current policy have had to make a substantive argument: we can't leave Iraq now, because a civil war will break out after we're gone. One is tempted to say that they should have thought about that possibility back when they were cheerleading us into this war. But the real question is this: When, exactly, would be a good time to leave Iraq?
The fact is that we're not going to stay in Iraq until we achieve victory, whatever that means in this context. At most, we'll stay until the American military can take no more.
Mr. Bush never asked the nation for the sacrifices - higher taxes, a bigger military and, possibly, a revived draft - that might have made a long-term commitment to Iraq possible. Instead, the war has been fought on borrowed money and borrowed time. And time is running out. With some military units on their third tour of duty in Iraq, the superb volunteer army that Mr. Bush inherited is in increasing danger of facing a collapse in quality and morale similar to the collapse of the officer corps in the early 1970's.
So the question isn't whether things will be ugly after American forces leave Iraq. They probably will. The question, instead, is whether it makes sense to keep the war going for another year or two, which is all the time we realistically have.
Pessimists think that Iraq will fall into chaos whenever we leave. If so, we're better off leaving sooner rather than later. As a Marine officer quoted by James Fallows in the current Atlantic Monthly puts it, "We can lose in Iraq and destroy our Army, or we can just lose."
And there's a good case to be made that our departure will actually improve matters. As Mr. Murtha pointed out in his speech, the insurgency derives much of its support from the perception that it's resisting a foreign occupier. Once we're gone, the odds are that Iraqis, who don't have a tradition of religious extremism, will turn on fanatical foreigners like Zarqawi.
The only way to justify staying in Iraq is to make the case that stretching the U.S. army to its breaking point will buy time for something good to happen. I don't think you can make that case convincingly. So Mr. Murtha is right: it's time to leave...."
UPDATE: And I Just Noticed it's the 1st Year Anniversary for Bryan's Why Now Blog!!! Happy Bloggiversary To Bryan!!! Go over and give him some kudos today to wish him the BEST!!!
Karen on 11.21.05 @ 07:18 AM CST