Sunday, November 12, 2006

An American Turning-point? - William Pfaff

David Seaton's News Links
William Pfaff was born in 1928 and he has been around the track a few times and he has had a few laughs and if anybody, anywhere knows what he/she is talking about it is certainly Mister Pfaff. I recommend reading him every time you get a chance. Here is such a chance. DS

Abstract: The blindingly obvious but unacknowledged idea that stares Washington in the face is that the only, and eventually inevitable, way to end the Iraq war is to free the Iraqis to settle their own fate. Some Americans actually object that if this were done there might be sectarian war and chaos. There might also be an end to sectarian war and chaos, generated by foreign occupation. Instead, the hopeless effort goes on to construct something that fits American models and ideas but has little or nothing to do with Iraqi and Arab society, conventions, ambitions and history. The developments during the 1980s and 1990s that made the United States the sole superpower planted the seeds of megalomania. The 9/11 attacks, as exploited by the administration, installed a morbid fear in America. The result has been an effort to exercise control over everything important in international affairs, supported by a belief that the U.S. is competent to do so. This led Washington not only to invade and unseat the Afghan and Iraqi governments, but to set out to remake their civil and economic systems, replacing the elites, destroying Iraq’s army and apparatus of civil power, trying to install a new political and economic culture: in some sense to create completely new nations, under effective American leadership, and under American supervision. I have never understood why in a country with a strong military tradition, an army that recently fought a decade-long war with Iran (in certain respects comparable to, and longer than, the first world war), which in 2003 numbered 375 thousand men plus auxiliary border and security forces numbering another 100 thousand, the United States should have dissolved that army and tried to develop an entirely new one, under American trainers, with American methods and doctrine, etc. -- an effort still failing. Why not keep the old army, under new generals? The old generals may have been loyal to Saddam Hussein, but generals do not own armies. As anyone who has served in an army knows, armies are owned, trained, and run by non-commissioned officers, with a little help from company and regimental officers.(...) Since 2003 the United States has been stuck at phase one of its program to make a new Iraq. It has all too successfully created a political empty space –- a void, a chaos -- into which the supposedly democratic American substitute for the old Iraq would be inserted. Washington cannot and will not, on present policy, get beyond the phase of destruction. (...) George W. Bush runs the executive branch of the American government, and will do so for another two years, no doubt continuing to assert the novel constitutional claim that he possesses virtually unlimited “wartime” powers, exempt from congressional oversight or judicial restraint once he has, himself, declared a war. Hence what is going to change?(...) Deplorable as Rumsfeld has been, he is only the agent and symbol of a national program that had thousands of supporters in and out of American government and Congress, the American foreign policy community, and the mainstream press. READ ALL

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