Saturday, January 25, 2003

I've been waiting for part two of Thomas L. Friedman's New York Times column on Thinking About Iraq. He thinks there are two possibilities once we have invaded Iraq.

Let me quote the second one first.

"You've just won the Arab Yugoslavia — an artificial country congenitally divided among Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, Nasserites, leftists and a host of tribes and clans that can only be held together with a Saddam-like iron fist. Congratulations, you're the new Saddam."

Oddly enough, as worried as I am about Iraq, reading that is a considerable relief at first. Over the past few weeks, I've been wondering why none of the people favoring war could see that possibility. Not only does he see it, he describes it clearly and honestly. I don't have to hope I'm crazy in order to avoid feeling we are headed for terrible disaster. I still wonder why the solution to this problem hasn't been discussed anywhere I could see it, but some of the people favoring war have thought about it.

Just for balance let me quote his other possibility.

"Congratulations! You've just won the Arab Germany — a country with enormous human talent, enormous natural resources, but with an evil dictator, whom you've just removed. Now, just add a little water, a spoonful of democracy and stir, and this will be a normal nation very soon."

Of course Germany didn't have the kind of ethnic divisions Iraq has, at least not after the Nazi's murdered all the Jews. Not even before, they didn't have an organized minority ready to fight a civil war, just people hoping to fit into their adopted homeland. But Mr. Friedman knows that.

Unfortunately, after reading the rest of the article I feel only a tiny bit better than when I started. His first suggestion:

"Does that mean we should rule out war? No. But it does mean that we must do it right. To begin with, the president must level with the American people that we may indeed be buying the Arab Yugoslavia, which will take a great deal of time and effort to heal into a self-sustaining, progressive, accountable Arab government. And, therefore, any nation-building in Iraq will be a multiyear marathon, not a multiweek sprint."

Unlike the generation of the Marshall plan, nobody wants to pay higher taxes to rebuild Iraq. He doesn't even mention the oil that is supposed to be sold to rebuilt Iraq while financing the American occupation. Just as well, unless you've planned carefully how much you can sell without driving down oil prices and destabalizing the Saudi's. If anyone considers the latter acceptable, lets hear the plan for dealing with it.

Next he wants UN support and backing. In one way I agree with all the UN bashers out there - it isn't going to happen. They all think this is a bad idea, and will be a disaster for the world. I agree with the UN bashers in another way too - I think the UN is using inspections only to stall American invasion of Iraq. I can even see how it might seem justified to them, although you can see where not discussing their real objections has gotten us all.

Even if Europe and Nato of did support us, what could they do? What exactly could they do to prevent all these groups from trying to kill each other, while occupiers try and prevent them while being easy targets for Al Queda? He still hasn't suggested a way to avoid civil war. It may be if there was a workable answer to this, some countries could be talked into joining us whole heartedly, or at least three quarters heartedly.

I've been having a discussion about this with Kieran Lyons on a Carraig Daire comment discussion, and he did have an interesting idea.

"If we resoundingly defeat the subset of the Iraqi army that chooses to fight, we might be able to avoid the devastation of Iraq and still satisfy requirement #1. #2 is a matter of political will, and I've seen very little of that from the Bush White House. I can only hope that someone like Condi is put in charge - I've met her, and she is a very smart and purposeful person. She instinctively understands the things that take me so many words to express. I have very little faith in the fortitude of Bush II, but much more faith in some of his appointees such as Condi."

She has actually pulled a couple of rabbits out of hats for the administration. If there is a way to do this, she's as likely to think of it as anyone. I haven't heard any claims from her or anyone in the administration that she has a plan. In fact, Carraig Daire is where I found this exerpt from Dawn, a online Pakistani periodical.

"The United States has tapped a retired army officer - Maj-Gen Jay M. Garner - to head the Pentagon office planning for a post-Saddam Hussein administration in Iraq.

Garner is 'beginning the process of thinking through all things necessary for Iraq,' Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Reserve Officers Association conference in Washington on Monday."

Well, we can hope. Meanwhile visit his web site and the article, I can't copy everything.

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