Originally posted November 15, 2003
This is my first update in six weeks. The news has just come out that we are now planning on turning control of Iraq over to (I guess) the U.S.-appointed Council. That would be 7 months from now, and the cynic in me notes that it would in time for the electorate to forget about Iraq by November’s election. The cynic also notes that bad news like this always seems to get disclosed late on Friday, just before the weekend when all the media go home.
Just a week ago we were being told that we would stay the course, not cut and run, blah blah. As opposed to the war as I was and remain, what in the world is going on here? Has the heat, dismissed just last week as insignificant, gotten too hot for the U.S. to handle? My guess is that if we really do turn over control, and so far nobody has tied any preconditions into our leaving that I’ve heard of, all the groups there will start vying more intensely for power, and we will have some difficult decisions about who to support. A defacto separation of the country into different warlordstans wouldn’t surprise me a bit, and what price would we be willing to pay to prevent that?
So what was our purpose in Iraq in the first place? To get rid of Saddam? Last I knew, he was still out there, and a U.S. withdrawal would make him a very happy man. To better the lives of Iraqis? If we really turn over control, there’s an excellent chance the body counts will make previous ones pale in comparison. To increase our security? Iraq could well become a failed state that would be far more dangerous that Saddam ever was.
Or was the purpose to bolster Bush’s political career? To present Iraq as the boogie-man, and then to present himself as the savior. And then to pull back, in my opinion prematurely, for yet more political reasons? Have we no regard for the Iraqi citizens at all? We come in, destroy the physical and governmental infrastructure, then leave before fixing any of it? I really hope I’m jumping to conclusions here.
Even if we aren’t serious about pulling back, just the announcement causes problems. Most Iraqis will stop helping us at all, and start worrying about which group to support. Estimates I’ve seen say there were (and probably still are) about 2,000,000 Baathists that supported Saddam (10% of the population), they are probably the best organized power group there, and they’ll be taking names. And the American soldiers there will rightly fall back into “protect myself” mode. Why take a chance on a fight when you’re probably leaving soon enough anyway? The members of the U.S.-appointed Council will start plotting their own strategies, making their own deals.
I’ll be waiting to see what the neo-cons have to say about this. How will the White House spin this one? The French made us do it? Give me a break…