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    right of return..., 2003-07-15 16:04:36 | Main | "For savvy observers, the lyin..., 2003-07-18 06:02:22

    broken merchandise:

    We broke Iraq a long time ago, along with numerous other countries, and have never gone out of our way to fix any of them, so perhaps it's a little silly that in this discussion so many maintain the position that we must fix Iraq while the USG is involved in a mission where it isn't entirely clear whether we're helping or hindering the repairs.

    But a couple points need to be raised while anti-war cliques discuss policy. Some are focused on bringing the troops home and others - what I suppose would be called "moderates" - insist we stay until we fix it, per Howard Dean: I agree with both of these positions, or disagree with both of them: the question isn't whether we stay or we go, but how we go about either. The core demand ought to have nothing to do with US troops, but to be that Bush give up his role as the Iraqi head of state. If the US unilaterally disengages it will likely result in the UNSC voting on a mandate to take its place, as per its chartered obligations. Assuming the US doesn't veto such a resolution the object of putting the UN and Iraqi authorities in charge is satisfied anyway. But whatever, here's some talking points:

    1. If we stay there is guerilla war. We know the rate of American casualties, it's unclear what the rate of Iraqi casualties are, but the rumor is 10 Iraqis for every American.
    2. If we go there might be a civil war. Certainly some degree of civil conflict, which, technically, there already is and was.
    3. France, Germany, India, and Egypt have all refused US requests for troop support, the ostensible members of the "coallition" are sending some 5,000 troops, which is next to insignificant. Pakistan is still deliberating, but is uncomfortable with the proposition for the same reasons: we're not getting support because a) it's increasingly obvious the war was waged under false pretenses, b) US credibility is non-existent, c) there's a guerilla war going on that nobody else wants to get involved in, d) US troop morale is at "rock bottom", e) there's no UN mandate.
    4. We can give the UN the mandate and get international assistance, which might ease the guerilla war, depending on how the resistance to the belligerent US occupation responds to UN occupation, and will help US troop morale by easing the burden. There are few troops available to ease the burden on the 3rd Infantry Division without the UN mandate, and they will likely be marines, who are less prepared for peacekeeping than regular army - but now that we're fighting a guerilla war that might not matter so much. Regular army doesn't get any significant peacekeeping training anyway. According to my roommate, who was in army recon until recently, he had one day a month.
    5. Rumsfeld reversed his earlier position and now says we need more troops in Iraq. The Pentagon is extending tours of duty to one year. This is terrible for troop morale.
    6. Sabotage is doubling the cost of and significantly impairing reconstruction efforts, and is intended to discredit the American occupation. If we weren't there the reconstruction efforts would face less resistance, and I'd argue that US policy is hindering reconstruction by granting contracts almost entirely to American companies without any bidding process. Iraqis have much of the necessary expertise themselves and have their own relationships with outside companies that can assist in leiu of American withdrawal. Or they can stick with the USG appointed companies, whatever: right now they don't have any choice in the matter.
    7. US policy is seriously undermining Iraqi agriculture, also, with this year's harvest being threatened by fuel shortages (because of the war) and no system of storage, distribution or marketing, let alone payment. This was all handled by the state before, and there's no system to replace it, or any interest in building a system to replace outside encouraging "foreign investment".
    8. The US is urging countries presently supporting the IPF in Kabul to relocate forces to Iraq, which undermines "efforts" in Afghanistan. Without continued international assistance Karzai's excuse for a government is likely to be replaced completely by warlordism: Kabul is an easy pick for the lesser of numerous evils.

    The administration is probably going to be forced to grant the UN a larger role in Iraq simply because of international resistance to involvement without a UN mandate. Some kind of deal with have to be brokered because the US needs the assistance, though the administration is bound to seek some kind of political cover to protect commercial interests in Iraq, which means limiting the role of the UN and Iraqi insitutions in this regard.

    The US role is, outside of handing Iraqi markets to American firms, supposed to be garaunteeing security. Whether or not we can do that is up in the air, it's every bit as likely that the counter-insurgency campaign will increase resistance to the occupation and become a broader conflict. Which foot do you want to shoot off? But so long as the vast majority of Iraqis want US troops there attempting to restore security - which polls suggest is the case - I'm not going to agitate for unilateral withdrawal.

    UN agencies are already equally, or more, involved as the US with organizing the "governing" council, reconstruction efforts, humanitarian aid (which Iraqis are entirely dependent on at this point), and the persual of elections in Iraq. The US is simply maintaining ultimate authority over any decisions either of Iraqis or the UN make, and how that will affect the results of the intervention positively I can't imagine. Whether or not US troops are involved doesn't bother me so much or strike me as relevant as whether or not Bush ultimately remains as the head of the Iraqi state. If we can't impeach the guy here we can at least help the Iraqis overthrow his dictatorship over their country.

:: posted by buermann @ 2003-07-17 16:26:02 CST | link

    go ahead, express that vague notion

    your turing test:

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