Monday, July 23, 2007

Iraq: crime and punishment

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This article from the New York Review of Books by Peter W. Galbraith is about as clear and complete an analysis of America's disaster in Iraq and Iraq's disastrous encounter with America that you are likely to find anywhere. If you can still stand reading about it, a must read.

However having said that, I have to insist that this otherwise fine article is obviating what for me is a key point: the criminal nature of America's intervention in Iraq and the necessity of a catharsis that determines the criminal responsibilities of those who led the country to war and punishes them with a severity corresponding to their crimes.

It should be pointed out to those who are unmoved by the sufferings of the people of Iraq, that America's young men and women who have been maimed or killed in Iraq, have not just "died in vain", which is an absurd idea. (Is an automobile accident or colon cancer "dying in vain"?) What has happened to them is far, far worse: they have been mutilated or killed while carrying out a criminal enterprise, as if they had been shot while robbing a gas station or a convenience store. That should not be allowed to stand. DS

Iraq: The Way to Go - New York Review of Books
Abstract: The Iraq war is lost. Of course, neither the President nor the war's intellectual architects are prepared to admit this. Nonetheless, the specter of defeat shapes their thinking in telling ways. The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning—a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes— but by the consequences of defeat. As President Bush put it, "The consequences of failure in Iraq would be death and destruction in the Middle East and here in America." Tellingly, the Iraq war's intellectual boosters, while insisting the surge is working, are moving to assign blame for defeat. And they have already picked their target: the American people. In The Weekly Standard, Tom Donnelly, a fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote, "Those who believe the war is already lost—call it the Clinton-Lugar axis—are mounting a surge of their own. Ground won in Iraq becomes ground lost at home." Lugar provoked Donnelly's anger by noting that the American people had lost confidence in Bush's Iraq strategy as demonstrated by the Democratic takeover of both houses of Congress. (This "blame the American people" approach has, through repetition, almost become the accepted explanation for the outcome in Vietnam, attributing defeat to a loss of public support and not to fifteen years of military failure.) Indeed, Vietnam is the image many Americans have of defeat in Iraq. Al-Qaeda would overrun the Green Zone and the last Americans would evacuate from the rooftop of the still unfinished largest embassy in the world. President Bush feeds on this imagery.(...) But there will be no Saigon moment in Iraq. Iraq's Shiite-led government is in no danger of losing the civil war to al-Qaeda, or a more inclusive Sunni front. Iraq's Shiites are three times as numerous as Iraq's Sunni Arabs; they dominate Iraq's military and police and have a powerful ally in neighboring Iran. The Arab states that might support the Sunnis are small, far away (vast deserts separate the inhabited parts of Jordan and Saudi Arabia from the main Iraqi population centers), and can only provide money, something the insurgency has in great amounts already. Iraq after an American defeat will look very much like Iraq today—a land divided along ethnic lines into Arab and Kurdish states with a civil war being fought within its Arab part. Defeat is defined by America's failure to accomplish its objective of a self-sustaining, democratic, and unified Iraq. And that failure has already taken place, along with the increase of Iranian power in the region.(...) In laying out his dark vision of an American failure, President Bush never discusses Iran's domination of Iraq even though this is a far more likely consequence of American defeat than an al-Qaeda victory. Bush's reticence is understandable since it was his miscalculations and incompetent management of the postwar occupation that gave Iran its opportunity. While opposing talks with Iran, the neoconservatives also prefer not to discuss its current powerful influence over Iraq's central government and southern region, persisting in the fantasy—notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary—that Iran is deeply unpopular among Iraq's Shiites and clerics. (At the same time, US officials accuse Iran of supplying Iraqi Shiite militias with particularly lethal roadside bombs.)(...) In the parts where we can accomplish nothing, we should withdraw. But there are still three missions that may be achievable—disrupting al-Qaeda, preserving Kurdistan's democracy, and limiting Iran's increasing domination. These can all be served by a modest US presence in Kurdistan. We need an Iraq policy with sufficient nuance to protect American interests.Unfortunately, we probably won't get it. READ IT ALL

1 comment:

Taru said...

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