Fixing Iraq

Fareed Zakaria writes that Bush’s Iraq policy is failing and needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, I have to agree with him – our Iraq policy isn’t doing nearly as well as it needs to, and something has to be done.

Zakaria advocated "internationalizing" the peacekeeping of Iraq. Certainly there needs to be more personnel on the ground, but I’m not sure that NATO peacekeepers are the best option. First of all, outside the US and the UK, there aren’t any other nations with the military strength to offer significant aid. Secondly, adding France and Germany to the mix would be decidedly unhelpful. Both countries had interests with the Hussein regime, and the price for their help might well be too high for what they could offer.

If that isn’t the answer, then what it? How can the US keep order in Iraq without help?

The answer is doing what the British are doing. The British know a thing or too about this kind of endeavor, and they’ve been playing like an Iraqi would. They’re making deals with tribal elders, working with the existing tribal system and trying to rebuild the country with an understanding about how Iraq works. The United States needs to follow suit.

Rather than trying to build democracy, the US needs to built relationships with Iraqi tribes. James Pinkerton goes so far as to suggest splitting Iraq into thirds based on ethnic differences to minimize interethnic conflict. As radical a proposal as that is, it may be a valid option to keep the peace.

In the meantime, we also need to learn to fight like Iraqis. The Saddam loyalists attacking our troops are using the techniques of guerilla warfare. As we did in Afghanistan, we need to do the same. In Afghanistan, American special forces troops rode horseback, grew beards, and made deals with the local leaders to assist in overthrowing the Taliban. In Iraq, American soldiers need to work with the local authorities to police the streets and capture or kill Saddam loyalists. That means setting the higher principles of democracy aside for the moment in favor of a more pragmatic approach.

It is clear that the United States cannot afford a war of attrition. However, that doesn’t mean that we should abandon the dream of a democratic Iraq. What it does mean is that we have to prepare the Iraqi people for self-determination, even if we don’t like the people we have to deal with. As much as we dislike working with tribal leaders and paying bounties for Saddam loyalists, if it saves American lives and keeps Iraq from falling into anarchy, the ends will have justified the means.

12 thoughts on “Fixing Iraq

  1. “our Iraq policy isn’t doing nearly as well as it needs to”

    Jay, we finally agree on something!!!

    “Both (Germany and France) countries had interests with the Hussein regime”

    Are we part of the “Axis of evil” now?

    “If that isn’t the answer, then what it? How can the US keep order in Iraq without help?”

    my answer to all those that supported the war, and are now asking the same question:

    THAT’S A BIT LATE TO REALIZE!!!Now that the country is falling appart, with chiits, sunnits, kurds and others claiming their own territory(not yet for all of them, but wait a few more weeks).

    I think that the plan is working exactly as the white house (and colleagues in the lobby) wanted it: the oil contracts are signed (with UK and US companies getting most of barrels=4 out of 6 millions), big money taken from american citizens directly given to W’s friends (military, oil, building industry), the situation in the middle east is fucked up, and everyone is friend with the US, the weapon supplier. The conditions are set for more big money to get in (well, just for them, sorry people, the international crisis is terrible)

    have a nice day,

  2. Hold your horses, guys. US Army was basically the executive in Germany until 1949, and the occupation itself wasn’t lifted until 1955. Let’s be fair, it’s only been a few months.

  3. I hope this country and its political establishment has the patience and willpower to stay in for the long haul. I think too many people believed that once we toppled Saddam Hussein, that we would be pulling our troops out the next week.

  4. Scott, the administration’s swagger going into Iraq gave Americans a false sense of security about what a breeze this war would be. Most probably expected a repeat performance of the 1991 Gulf War where six weeks after war was waged, we’d be seeing “Welcome Home Troops” specials on TV. Now that we’ve foolishly involved ourselves in Iraq, I agree that we’re better off staying there and riding out the storm than bailing. I expect needlessly painful repercussions either way, but perhaps slightly less so by continuing the occupation and attempting to establish some semblance of order in Iraq. Ideally, the majority of Americans who now think we’re “no longer in control of the situation in Iraq” will think twice about trying to colonize the next nation Bush deems worthy of “regime change”….but I doubt it.

  5. Most probably expected a repeat performance of the 1991 Gulf War

    Speak for yourself. You can’t compare Gulf 1 and Gulf 2. They had different objectives and different exit strategy.

    trying to colonize the next nation

    Colonize? Lololol!

    Bush deems worthy of “regime change”….

    Didn’t UN vote on this?

  6. UN has been founding Iraq to be in violation for over a decade now. In the fall UN issued an ultimatum, basically.
    We need to pull out of UN *now*.

  7. I think we need to stay the course in Iraq, if only to repair the harm of our unjust war. It’s too bad that it’ll probably cost the lives of more Americans, though.

  8. Apparently a war is only just if liberals support it. Never mind that injustice would have been to sit back and let the situations fester even more. The left doesn’t mind it when a Democrat bombs innocent civilians in an African country that posed no threat to the United States, but let a Republican free a nation of 22 million from the bootheel of one of the world’s most oppressive regime, well that’s injustice.

    To understand these things, you just have to think like a liberal Democrat. Anything that a Republican does is bad. Anything that a liberal does is good. Once you understand that framework, the left becomes considerably easier to comprehend.

  9. and of course, this is not the case of republicans, who are always honnest, fair, just, objective, nice, funny, …

  10. Why is Dean supporting an “unjust” military intervention in Liberia? How are we going to help those people with bombs and bullets???
    Remember – you can’t hug your kids with nuclear arms 🙁

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