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Iraq: fighting the big one « Previous | |Next »
August 26, 2003

The small picture of Iraq is concerned with the entrenched divisions within the majority Shiite movement, and how the Shiites will place their bets in the coming months. This is still unknown at this stage. But it appears to be a time bomb waiting to go off.

The big picture is the US one of freedom versus totalitarian conflict with freedom expanding and totalitianism resisting. Robert Kagan and William Kristol at the Weekly Standard articulate and develop the Washington neocon vision, briefly mentioned at the bottom of this post, by linking the big picture terms of American national security. US security is at stake with what is happening in Iraq.

Kagan and William Kristol say that :

"President Bush recognizes that, as is so often the case, American ideals and American interests converge in such a project, [rebuilding Iraq] that a more democratic Middle East will both improve the lives of long-suffering peoples and enhance America's national security.

For all our admiration for this bold, long-term vision, however, there is reason to be worried about the execution of that policy in the first and probably most important test of our "generational commitment." Make no mistake: The president's vision will, in the coming months, either be launched successfully in Iraq, or it will die in Iraq. Indeed, there is more at stake in Iraq than even this vision of a better, safer Middle East. The future course of American foreign policy, American world leadership, and American security is at stake. Failure in Iraq would be a devastating blow to everything the United States hopes to accomplish, and must accomplish, in the decades ahead."

Iraq is defined as a pivot point. An affirmation of this neo-con big picture view of things comes from Thomas Friedman, who says that the US is Fighting the Big One he says:

"We are attracting all these opponents to Iraq because they understand this war is The Big One... They know this is not a war for oil. They know this is a war over ideas and values and governance. They know this war is about Western powers, helped by the U.N., coming into the heart of their world to promote more decent, open, tolerant, women-friendly, pluralistic governments by starting with Iraq — a country that contains all the main strands of the region: Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. In short, America's opponents know just what's at stake in the postwar struggle for Iraq, which is why they flock there: beat America's ideas in Iraq and you beat them out of the whole region; lose to America there, lose everywhere."

The apocalyptic tempo in Washington is definitely lifting into another gear.The US has to win in Iraq. Western civilization depends upon it. It is heady stuff Is it a selling the war for domestic consideration of the forthcoming Presidential elections?

So how is it all going in Iraq now that Amrican world leadership and the security of the West hangs in the balance?

This report from the International Crisis Group (link via Abu Ardvaark) is useful. It says:

"The CPA until now has retained quasi-exclusive authority, with Washington’s approach translating into an unwillingness to involve seriously either the Iraqi people or the international community. Since its early missteps, the CPA appears to have engaged in some salutary self-correction and has registered some real successes. But fundamental problems remain. Policing troubles are mounting and they have not been addressed with policing solutions. Instead, coalition troops unsuited to the task have been called in, leading to inevitable mistakes at the cost of both innocent lives and Iraqi national pride. Basic infrastructure has not been rebuilt. Iraqis lack jobs and subsistence income. The CPA lives in virtual isolation, unable to communicate effectively with the Iraqi population. It has yet to correct some of its most counterproductive decrees such as the disbanding of the entire 400,000-man army and the large-scale de-Baathification. Meanwhile, the occupation’s U.S. face has heightened suspicion and anger in Iraq and parts of the Arab and Moslem worlds where many view it as part of Washington’s agenda to reshape the region."

There are lots of practical proposals to improve governance in Iraq, given the lack of legitimacy of the Governing Council. It says that the burden of transtional adminstration needs ot be shared more widely. This means a greater role and responsibility for the UN during the transition period; and devolving more power to the Governing Council to handle security, infrastructure and administration.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:12 PM | | Comments (2)


Jeez. This is just like Vietnam. Back then the US also thought that "losing" Vietnam to communism would be the end of Western Civilisation. Amazingly, we seem to have survived.

Mind you the threat is more realistic this time, given the proximity of the conflict to "probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment".

Things could get really ugly since the US will simply not be deterred from continuing the occupation for at least the next 12-18 months, no matter how many Iraqis try to chuck them out with violence.

I think that they have a problem on their hands. A military solution is not going to solve the political problem of Iraq's running their own country.

It is ironic. Osma ben Laden's group was not active before the war in Iraq and there were few links to Saddam Hussein's Baarth regime. Hence it was filmsy excuse for going to war.

Now that the Americans are occupying Iraq they are acting as magnet to militant Islamic groups.

So the military goals continue to take precedence over the political ones.