Winstonm, on Apr 8 2006, 09:16 PM, said:
There can be nothing done in Iraq until it is clearly understood that there exists no country of Iraq - only a boundary on a map which houses various tribes of peoples, and whichever tribe is in power controls the resources within those boundaries. As long as there are tribes there will be times of peace among the tribes and times of war; the only immoratity comes in the financial support of the ruling tribe as this always leads to slaughter and attempted genocide of the non-ruling tribes. The only sensible solution is to divide the country of Iraq into as many "tribal" nations as are needed and then withdraw and let Darwinian natural selection determine the eventual winner. The only other solution is the one that Rome attempted and that is to conquer and rule - but to conquer by force and then hope for change is both dangerous and naive. The U.S.A. must either be a conqueror or a bystander - what it must not be is a policeman who imposes his sense of morality on a people who do not share that same belief.
Winston sums up the "native Iraq" problem accurately - but his analysis stops short of the current position: the US (with Oz & GB) is there now.
You don't create a favourable culture and "liberal" democracy overnight even when dealing with an heterogeneous culture - much less a tribal society with intertribal hatreds in an artificially created state.
The theory of division of the state among the 3 tribes geographically ignores:-
1) its unpopularity with ALL neighbours (even US ally Turkey would oppose a Kurdish state);
2) the unequal geographic location of oil (hence wealth);
3) the inevitable dislocation of large segments of population causing further hatreds and feuds;
4) the logistics of boundary drawing which tend to be arbitrary and lead to further disputes (cf Palestine, India/Pakistan, pick any Balkan states....).
I was one of the pragmatists who believed Saddam on WMD, viewed his downfall as "a good thing" (cf 1066 & All That) but even prior to the invasion dared to voice the query as to what the plan was for "the peace" on the basis that occupation would have to take place for a minimum of 2 decades to educate and inculcate a generation if there was to be any prospect of establishing a sympathetic (or empathetic) western-oriented state. I doubted whether the US possessed the intestinal fortitude to stay the course over such a period as historically dramatic throwing of resources at a problem in the short term has yielded US its best results.
To my knowledge the only longterm "occupations" by the US have been Vietnam (not exactly a success), Germany (dealing with a western heterogeneous group) and Japan (which was at least heterogeneous).
Since WWII US foreign policy has been about maintaining a bulwark against communism - and since 1990 about effectively maintaining a status quo (as the dominant power is wont to prefer).
Once rhetoric is excluded that simple doctrine explains virtually all actions - and alleged volte faces for the past 60 years. It doesn't make those actions right - but it does explain them.
That is not to say that no dividends have been received by the occupation: a number of arab states have foresworn WMD and direct open funding of terrorists and a number of others have had to come to grips with the risk that there might be another state in which "the people" actually have a say - thereby instilling some doubts about the totalitarian regimes in other states.
Certainly, there is a strong argument that such dividends are insufficient for the cost (in lives and financially), but there is a further real issue now: what of the cost incurred to date if the US exits now. Those "costs" are effectively wasted in such a scenario.
As noted, the longterm strategy of staying the course in Iraq could be a winner geopolitically - but is all but unsustainable on a domestic political basis from an outsider's perspective.
Again, to steal from Clausewitz, America's foreign policy has really been a continuation of its domestic policy by other means.
I may not like a world superpower - but if we have to have one I am generally grateful that it is the US (consider the alternatives if say Russia, China or even colonial GB exercised the same dominance) as it is doubtful that in those circumstances criticism would be tolerated - and almost certainly there would be no self-vilification or introspection by such a nation.
It is quite touching - if somewhat naive- that the US still tends to believe that anywhere they go they will be loved - and the continued air of surprised disappointment when they are not. Other nations have tended to be considerably less caring.....