I was very [ambivalent] about the war to begin with. There was a stable balance of power in the region, but stable balance of powers can protect genocidal governments for years. Sadam was accused of following what Hans Morgantahau called an anti-status quo policy, I thought it was a prestige policy, but the two are often difficult to tell apart, and he had invaded two counties. Saddam got more from the prestige of out of having (or having people think he had) WMD’s than he could ever get from using them outside Iraq, but what ever you think chemical weapons do to people it is much worse, and he did use them in past. My pre-blog comments have long since disappeared off the net. Paul Cella expressed what I was thinking then and said it better than I did.
Whatever one thinks of the war the Secretary of Defense had very misguided ideas on how to run a Defense Department and fight a war.
And then his conclusions about the present:
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And despite all that, owing more to the troops on the ground and the Iraqis, the military situation in Iraq, while difficult, is nowhere near as bad as the press reports would have you believe.
As Hank says, this Americentric notion of a quick pull-out is wrong on any number of levels:
With all the discussion on the possibility of a withdrawal it seems that most of the discussion is an Americentric approach to US domestic politics. Some even give the impression that they see the issue is about George Bush, what happens to Iraq, neighboring countries, US ability to conduct international relations in the future, or even US troops in Iraq is unimportant or a distraction. Yes, one can have differences of opinion about Bushes policies, I do, but harming our country and others for what ultimately amounts to patronage and contacts is just plain stupid.
But it was “just plain stupid” greed and ambition that motivated the State Department flunkies in Iraq in 2003 to foul the nest.
Here is my post on the situation as described by Ken Joseph, an Assyrian Christian who was there, who witnessed the situation up close and who blames two kinds of Americans for what went down:
The good guys, were the “aw shucks” Americans that came into Iraq and did their best to organize, fix and restore Iraq. They could not imagine that anyone would purposely try to work against what clearly the Iraqis wanted.
I watched them, many times with tears in my eyes as they worked so hard, under such terrible conditions to make things better for Iraq.
“Why are you here?” I would ask over and over. The answer was always the same: “I just want the Iraqis to have what we have. Just doing my job!”
How simple, how naïve and yet how powerful.
[This was]The first group that “lost Iraq”… the “good guys” — the men and women who gave of their lives and their time to rebuild Iraq so the Iraqis could be free.
The second group? “The opportunists”. These were many of the people working in the CPA — Coalition Provisional Authority who were there not to see Iraq restored, but simply to get a good line on their résumés and to get a job in the new administration.
A year ago [he means 2002 - D.] those who were hoping for a job in a Kerry Administration had every incentive to see Iraq fail. While it is very difficult to point to specific instances, put yourself in the position of a staffer desperate for a job in a Kerry administration in January.
The best way to insure it? For Iraq to fail! Did it happen? I am absolutely confident it did. I saw it every day!
I am putting out a call to all who were working at CPA headquarters and others to come forward with details of how the “opportunists” worked against success simply to insure they would have a job in January!
A “forgotten” poster which was supposed to be posed all over the country announcing the plans of the CPA. “Accidentally” delayed telephones, computer systems and a host of other supplies we saw daily.
A whole class of staffers working subconsciously and often consciously to in their own little small way have Iraq “fail” so they could get a job in a new administration which would be directly linked to the failure of Iraq.
Never underestimate the stupidity of people when their main focus is their main chance…and to hell with anyone else. These people were ambitious and their ambition cost the US dearly.
If the Cindy Sheehans of the world want to march anywhere, it ought to be to the State Department. That byzantine den of corruption isn’t called “Foggy Bottom” just because of the landscape.
“A March Up Country” leaves us with seven possible scenarios if we simply withdraw from Iraq due to political pressure. Scroll down to the bottom of Hank’s post to see what he (and Austin Bay) envision in the way of alternative outcomes if there is a quick withdrawal of American forces. Most of it is not pretty, though they offer one thin thread of hope.
I believe it will be “Rwanda in the desert” except there will be more than two factions going about their bloody work of destruction.