New York Times
The Strategy to Secure Iraq Did Not Foresee a 2nd War
By Michael R. Gordon
In a nutshell
Its been said over and over by commentators and experts: no one took account of the political sensibilities of the various groups. Or, rather, they thought they might if conditions allowed, but then defaulted to Mediaeval " let's siege a castle" mode once they realised they couldn't.
The insurgency may reflect various discontents ( Ba'ath, ex-Army,ethnic, tribal, religious, the poor) but what it really means is that the Sunni fear they will be displaced by the Shii when and if democracy operates. Numbers. They can count. Sixty percent Shite. Put aside the minor infighting. True, the fact that the Sunni ruled, that certain sub-tribes achieved acendency within the ruling Ba'ath Party, makes what is happening now more complicated. But when the votes are counted, the Shia Parties will be in a majority. Since there is no Army as such to take over in a Coup when the Shia parties have formed a government with an Islamic bias - which will of course be semi-inclusive of the secular ans Sunni elements - rather like Algeria in the 90s, it is necessary to build up a force ("The Insurgency") that can do the job. The Americans are having to quell the insurgents because they claim they want democracy for Iraq. If they had left the Army in place, they could have left it to the Iraqis to remove a quasi-Islamic government.
Even if an Islamic goverment takes over in Iraq, this does not mean things will settle down. What's ahpening now will continue only worse. And the Americans will ring their hands wondering whether they should stay or leave.
Being wise after the event and having just read this article it is easy to see how the U.S. by allowing the DOD rather than SD run the show, totally neglected the politics. What do you do when a country distintegrates like Iraq did in the weeks after April 9th. ? Well, get out there. Talk to people. Develop relationships. Do some reassurancing. If you were in a country taken over by another which claimed to be doing it for your own good, would you want them to do a bit more than send out military patrols?
It is clear that the establishment of the Provisional Authority and the Provisional Government were not looked on kindly by most Iraqis. Lack of respect. You don't talk to people about freedom and democracy then start imposing things on them. Not a recipe for any relations let alone good relations.
Spending money, repairing the infrastructure, has been going on apace. But still utilites are not up to full strength. Many people have been provided with work, but essentially there is mass unemployment. If one is being cynical, this might be the ideal set-up - hours and hours of sitting around - for Iraqis to talk amongst themselves and develop the politics needed to re-create Iraq. However, such is the nature of human beings, when they are short of the necessary things of life that everyone expects to have, then that is what their minds will be focused on, rather how to proceed forwards to a bright new dawn..
It was said that the USSR was kept hungry and in food cues to keep their minds off their political discontents. In Iraq, the same is happening, except by a combination of lack of foresight, poor planning and inefficiency. That does not mean to say that Iraqis are not organising themselves politically. They are. But the remnants of the old power structures are still there and they are surely behind the what is now a well-organised rebellion.
Brent Scowcroff - whi I think was a military man before becoming a SD official - in an 1996 interview aired on BBC TV last night said there was no way for an early exit from Iraq if the US had gone all the way in 1992. He mentioned 5 years. What changed in 2003 ? Why did everyone think the troops would be back home in 6 months? Wel of course, the truth is another country...They know and knew all along that the troops couldn't be brought home in a hurry. But politically it is necessary to endlesslessly say they will reduce the garrison.
if Bush wins, talk of bringing the boys home will evaporate... I like the image of words evaporating..remember those silly programmes that would pick text to bits pixel by pixel in a random fashion till the screen was blank, making you thing you had a virus...
The necessity then will be not to draw attention to the promises they made earlier. What do they say, a week in politics is a long time. Wel, for politicians, yes, but the public have much longer memories. Blair ill never be forgiven for trying to deceive the British public. This, titled Dictator of Downing St written by Robert Service in the Newstatesman is quite amusing.
memories of a childhood in Iraq in the 1950s * thoughts on events in the Middle East