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  • IRAQ–One Exit Strategy: Just Leave

    Posted by Lexington Green on September 25th, 2003 (All posts by )

    So sayeth Walter Russell Mead in this essay. Mead is one of the true smart guys around these days. He asks and answers some questions:

    But what if things come unglued in Iraq? What if law and order don’t return, and the present low level of violence starts to rise and become better organized? What if the body count among U.S. forces continues to increase? Won’t American public opinion demand a speedy retreat? And wouldn’t a retreat that left Iraq still undemocratic undercut the U.S. further?

    The short answer is that if Iraqi violence continues to rise, at some point the administration would go to Plan B: Find a general, turn the place over to him and go home.

    This of course sounds pretty horrible. But Mead has a point:

    Elites would wring their hands, but voters would just shrug their shoulders. Poll after poll shows that Americans want democracy and human rights to spread around the world — but that they don’t want American combat troops to be caught in the crossfire. If Iraqis reject U.S. help to build a democracy, and Bush decides to bring the troops home, most voters will agree with his decision. They were willing to give this democracy-in-the-Middle-East idea a try — and they genuinely do hope it will work — but at the end of the day, they don’t want a war over it.

    What Mead is getting at is that Bush’s core Jacksonian supporters are not happy with the way things are going. Mead wrote this in June. Now, in September, it is much worse. Jacksonians like me were not real happy that this war was even called “Operation Iraqi Liberation”, for example. I don’t think it would ever have been worth sending American troops in somewhere solely because they had a horrible government. That’s their problem. I think we should send our troops in somewhere because it is to the benefit of the United States that we do so. While we are at it, we should conduct ourselves with the practical idealism which we are known for. And the whole “where are the WMDs” business is happening at all because Bush and his crew felt the need to get U.N. support and talk about “resolutions” that were violated and all that hogwash. It didn’t work, of course. The people who care about that crap would never, ever support him. So, what should have been a footnote is now a disaster for Bush: the basis for his “legal” argument is missing.

    In Bush’s efforts to put a Wilsonian cloak on this war, the focus on “legality” and “human rights” was an attempt to woo the very people who despise him, and he is losing his base as a result. When he announced the price tag to rebuild the place, he lost another huge slice of his supporters. Millions of people in this country absolutely loathe the idea of “foreign aid”. They angrily begrudge every cent spent abroad. Bush’s only hope to sell this program in Iraq would be to focus on American interests and what we get out of the lives and treasure being shovelled into the place. But Bush won’t play it that way.

    Bush’s mistake was that instead of reading books by guys like Mead, he believed the two Steves — Ambrose and Spielberg and that Brokaw guy, too. These guys presented a vision of WWII which was incomplete and hence misleading. We have had a half-generation of people who have been taught that the GIs of WWII went forth to liberate a continent and restore freedom and democracy, and that this was a noble cause. That was true in part. But mostly they went because they were drafted, and after that it was to kick the shit of out of the Japs who bombed us and their pals the Nazis who declared war on us. These were the same people who watched Germany overrun Europe without blinking. That was far away and it was somebody else’s problem. Only when we were attacked did the American public care about the war.

    Bush has attempted to sell this war and its aftermath to the wrong people for the wrong reasons and they’re not buying. The people who had supported him in a “war on terror” no longer support him in an expensive effort to build a modern, democratic Iraq, a sales pitch that would never have worked with them anyway.

    It is probably too late for Bush to “just leave.” And, at this point, it probably doesn’t matter for him. Bush has lost his core political support at home as a result of these blunders, irrevocably I suspect, and unless he acts very decisively very soon in some very noticeable way, he is going to lose the 2004 election as a result.

     

    29 Responses to “IRAQ–One Exit Strategy: Just Leave”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      I think you’re being excessively pessimistic.

    2. Lex Says:

      I’ll believe I’m too pessimistic when his approval ratings get back well above 50%.

      I have always thought the next election would be very, very close — at best — for Bush.

      He has surprised me repeatedly. I am eagerly, nay nervously, awaiting the next rabbit to be pulled from his hat.

    3. Jonathan Says:

      Bush’s reelection odds are still 62/63 on Tradesports.com. Sure, he could lose. But we all breathe the same meme-filled air, and as the meme right now is that Bush is alienating his base etc., a lot of people are starting to be excessively negative on his prospects. They were once excessively positive on his prospects, back when his approval in polls was 70%. IMO these meme swings are bad predictors because they excessively discount the short term. Bush is likely to be reelected as long as the economy is in OK shape (it is, and getting better) and he doesn’t make any big blunders in Iraq. So far, so good.

    4. Billy Flynn Says:

      I could not agree more firmly with you.

      I have been a member of http://www.tradesports.com for over a year, and typically on long term contracts, there is often siginifcant over-reaction to low impact news.

      So buess who is on the bid side.

    5. John Fay Says:

      While I might agree that Bush is alienating his base, they’ve got no where to go. If one of the Democrats had come out with a firmly pro-American foreign policy, I think that might have been trouble for Bush, but as it is the current contenders are all to the left of Tony Blair in their desire to get the French back on side.

      My own instinct is that Bush is a long way from alienating any state that went for him in 2000, but has solidified his hold on Florida and Ohio. I suspect he may even be closer on New Jersey (due to 9/11 impact), but that’s a tough one.

    6. Mike K Says:

      The situation in Iraq will not be clear until spring. If there is a functioning Iraqi regime with control, even shaky control, of violence, Bush will win in a landslide. If the situation is still bad and getting worse, he will be toast. We might be toast too since this attempt to change the facts on the ground in the middle east is crucial to a peaceful world this century.

    7. Lou Wheeler Says:

      Mr.Mead’s comments are perfectly reasonable– if you can believe his sources: the mainstream press. Fortunately, you can’t. So, his conclusions are inaccurate. A large segment of the US and EU press were anti-war. They have a vested interest in our defeat in Iraq, so they paint a false picture.

      I’ve not been within a thousand miles of Iraq, and probably neither has Mr. Mead. But, I’ve read reports from people in Iraq and articles about returning soldiers to the states who claim that Iraq is not bad and getting worse as Mr Mead claims.

      Except for the tenth of the country in the Sunni triangle under Ba’athist control, Iraq is settling down. The utilities are on full time now. More electricity and clean water is being supplied than Saddam ever did. Commerce is booming. Local government is being organized. Things are not good in Iraq, but they are far better than was under Saddam Hussein.

      The Assyrian Christians, the Turkmen, the Kurds and the Shi’ia are not causing trouble. It’s mostly Ba’athists and Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian and Saudi aggitators who are killing our soldiers, and we are killing or capturing 30 of them for every one of our losses. The rebels ran out of idiot fujahdeen early and started paying poor Iraqi’s to ambush our men. We killed so many of them that the price went through the roof: from 300 on up to 5 thousand dollars. Now, the rebels plant bombs as a means to cut their losses.

      No insurgency can last without help from the population. Few Iraqis are helping, so The insurrection is petering out. The number of incidents is dropping, down to 10 to 15 a day. We are going for days at a time without losses. But, it will take years for the violence to completely stop. In most of Iraq, the violence is less than in our inner cities.

      In recent polls, 70 percent of the Iraqis believed that it was worth the pain and deprivation to get rid of Saddam Hussein and that their lives will be better within two years.

      It’s too soon for us to throw in the towel. Our soldiers in the field say we are winning; that the losses are both low and expected. Let’s not let a biased media snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    8. Amos Says:

      I agree with john, this is all nonsense. The polls reflect legitimate Jacksonian concerns about bush but that’s not an election. When it comes time to vote, who are all these people going to vote for, DEAN??

      Come on. These polls represent dissent from the core, but the core will endorse bush in 04 over some liberal weenie. It’s a no brainer.

    9. Georges Says:

      Dear everybody,

      …that the US/GB and their rare proxies will leave a ruined Iraq in shame and sorrow is not a matter of if, but of when.
      Of course, the US/GB government can still outlive a little the tremendous wave of indignation and anger that is unfolding on the national side on the part of the millions that were duped and coerced to believe in this injust and illegal war of agression. Now, at last, they realize the extent of spin, deceit and media-controlled propaganda used to frigthen them in favor of this aggression.

      The problem now for the Bush/Blair clique is in the killing streets of Iraq.

      Personnally, at the daily killing rate (on both sides!) of the occupation forces, I do not think that the US/GB could still be overthere in february 2004.

      Yes, the topic wording is right : one exit strategy : just leave !

      SEE those 3 articles, thoroughly accurate, they say it all :

      – on the iraqi resistance :
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1050860,00.html

      – on the real balance of power now in Iraq :
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1049229,00.html

      – on the total illegality, the immense mistake of this war :
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1049229,00.html

    10. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Oh yeah, people were frightened into supporting the war. And the media-controlled propaganda ensured that. Right. Thank you for letting everybody know you were not in the US at the time. But who would need to be ? Everybody there is stupid and ignorant, the media is run from the White House, who takes orders from Halliburton.

      Right…

      And the Guardian is such an unbiased, reliable source of information. After all, this is the paper who about a month and half ago or so, published an article claiming the US were jealous of Cuba and its accomplishments in education and health care, hence the official hostility. Which would explain, I guess, the countless Americans swimming across the Florida Strait to the Cuban paradise…oh wait, turns out it’s the other way around. Silly Cubans. What is *wrong* with them ?

      Interestingly, Georges, the killing is not any worse than in Afghanistan, as a proportion of forces engaged (12 times more in Iraq; divide the casualties so far by 12 and compare with Afghanistan; the latter is more dangerous). Yet I don’t hear anyone talking about a quagmire and predicting a withdrawal by February there.

      I doubt the troops will be out, unless a new administration makes it happen in 2005. Because the consequences, politically, economically, diplomatically, both in Iraq and in the US, would make the current situation look like Disneyland. Nobody wants to stay there any longer than they have to. But leaving now would certainly not be a gift to Iraq or anyone. Incidentally, this is exactly the main reason Shias in the south distrust the Americans. Since the shameful mess of 1991, they believe they’ll still be left behind to get slaughtered like the last time. And who can blame them.

      I’d agree with Jonathan Lex could be excessively pessimistic. The casualty rate is higher in Afghanistan yet nobody really cares; to the extent the media doesn’t care, it doesn’t matter. And there is no indication what things will be like a year from now. We’re only, and barely, six and half months after the beginning of the intervention. Today, there is frustration but I doubt a majority would want the troops to come home tomorrow, whatever the consequences. If that message could sell, every single Democratic candidate would be using it every day. They don’t though; because the first question out of the electorate’s mouth is “what happens if we do ?”, “who is in charge there?”, “why leave if Saddam is still around ?”, “does it mean Iran will try and intervene like in 1991, and why do we do then ?” etc And they have no answer to that.

      After all, this is why Bush 41 and Colin Powell left the Shias hanging. The SCIRI and elements of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard crossed the border. Faced with the possibility of another Shia Islamic Republic, Saddam was deemed a necessary evil. (One lame call, in my opinion, but I’m glad I didn’t have to make it…) Now that he’s gone, leaving a void behind would be even worse. And would only embolden al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and all the other abject murderers in the neighborhood.

      Can’t leave it now. You don’t commit to something like this and get the willies after 6 months or a year. It’s not going well. But it’s not going badly either. After all, things are not anywhere near as bad as the critics and supposed experts promised they would be a few months ago. Tribes and factions would supposedly kill each other with abandon, Yugoslavia-style, the Kurds would fight with everybody else and Turkey, the Middle East would collapse into warfare etc etc. Never mind the usual predictions of a humanitarian disaster, which, as in Afghanistan, didn’t happen.

      The war was indeed a cakewalk. Thank God. Now this is the real stuff. And it’s going to be tough as nails. But worth it. It would be shameful to give up for domestic political reasons.

    11. Alexander Crawford Says:

      Lex… Buck up, man! Good god! Don’t tell us you DOUBT! heehee. (It’s a long year between now and next November).

      Here’s the full text of the poem Wes Clark (selectively) quoted to describe Americas place in the world. If this doesn’t mean something… well… then change the name of this blog because it’s Sandburgs “CHICAGO”.

      Chicago
      (Carl Sandburg, Chicago poems 1916)

      Hog Butcher for the World,
      Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
      Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
      Stormy, husky, brawling,
      City of the Big Shoulders:

      They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
      And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
      And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
      And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
      Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
      Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
      Fierce as a dog with a tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
      Bareheaded,
      Shoveling,
      Wrecking,
      Planning,
      Building, breaking, rebuilding,

      Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
      Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
      Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
      Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
      Laughing!
      Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

    12. Lex Says:

      That cheers me up. I now need a corned beef sandwich, some pickles and a pitcher of beer.

      All may yet be well.

    13. Kodiak Says:

      Although I’m antiwar, I agree with Sylvain: I don’t wish the USA to evacuate Iraq without anything serious has been established in Iraq. Admittedly, the unilateral invasion of Iraq was a huge mistake . But now it’s too late & the West is unwillingly engaged by the US folly which drove islamofascists & saddamites to collude & perpetrate terrorism. The best would be a deeper co-operation between the US & the French-led coalition within the UN frame. Is it possible?

      The most important isn’t the Bushist or the antiwar propagandas. It’s about true multilateralism. Urgently. And power devolution to Iraqis.

      Tribes and factions would supposedly kill each other with abandon, Yugoslavia-style, the Kurds would fight with everybody else and Turkey, the Middle East would collapse into warfare etc etc.
      The current prospects are worrying & are likely to get worse.

    14. Alexander Crawford Says:

      Lex… More Chicago anecdotes to cheer the soul?

      The last Republican mayor of Chicago was “Big Bill” Thompson, and a man who oozed the spirit of the city (or maybe that was beer sweat… anyway).

      Now Big Bill knew who his constituents real enemies were, and wasn’t afraid to take a bi-partisan stand with his Irish Democrat opponents when geo-politics threatened their town. And as all true blooded Americans knew then as now, there’s nothing more insufferable, sinister, or intolerable than a man who thinks he should rule over free born Chicago men without their say so. This is the vilest, dispicable and most infuriating concept Big Bill Thompson could imagine. Pure, unmitigated villiany, especially if such a man was a foreign tyrant. And of all of those devils, the lowest were the Kings of England, who were known to be perverts to boot. And of all the various Kings of England, it wasn’t a secret that it was the ones named George had a particular hatred for Americans, as they’d amply proved time and again.

      So when news came that King of England George V was visiting Canada, Big Bill Thompson made a pledge to his constituency and the whole of the people of Chicago to bar him from their city. Kings weren’t welcome in Chicago. If the Mayor set eyes on him he’d give him a punch in the nose, and on principle refused to guarantee the Kings safety.

      (Big Bill Thompson also campaigned with hand grenades, which just shows how wimpy politics has gotten in the last 70 years).

      If I wasn’t from Detroit, Chicago would be my kinda town!

    15. WF Says:

      We are in Iraq not because we were attacked from there, but because 3000+ Americans died through terrorism already. The attacks made clear that the political culture of the middle east (that precious ‘stability’) had become a danger to us. Iraq was chosen because it was more doable than the other countries and with its behaviour presented itself as a target. There is plenty of ‘legitimacy’ whether the French admit it or not.

      Things are not that bad in Iraq. But a failure of nerve, e.g. leaving too early, will mean that war is lost. And it won´t save Bush because it will be perceived as a failure and a humiliation. His opponents will be vindicated. Can you imagine the reaction if we simply install an autocratic regime there? If we get that chance at all – a pro-US dictator might well be more vulnerable to hostile foreign forces, not less.

      Ok, maybe Bush is not selling his policy very well. But he has shown great courage in taking the politically risky course. If Bush looses the next election, his successors will see that as a clear mandate to reduce the war on terror to the policy of empty threats and half-measures of the 90s.

      Pull out, and the US will loose its current leverage over the other terror states and its credibility with the majority of Iraqis who are grateful for their liberation. It may well loose its bases in the region once Iran goes nuclear. The war (and media attention) will simply move back to Afghanistan, until we pull out from there, too.

      If the US cannot pursue such a coherent and ambitious, if difficult, foreign policy for more than 2 years because of domestic concerns – well, the French can. The Saudis can, the Iranians can, the Chinese can. All of them will not shed a tear when the next 911 happens.

    16. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Kodiak, the line about the US breeding terrorism in Iraq makes me laugh. Honestly. The notion that 30 years of oppression by Saddam would have no effect or little effect and that all this anger started bottling up on March 17 and after is just plain laughable. These people have been through hell for a generation. The last six months are a drop in the bucket of their suffering.

      What people who sustain this argument are also implying is that, if Saddam had somehow be removed by his own people, things would have then been peachy and pacific. No infighting, no rearguard resistance by the Baathists on the run, no ‘Islamofascists’, as you say, trying to take power in the South, no Iranian factions trying to control things. That, of course, is nonsensical. All of this would have happened, and worse, for a period of time. And guess what ? The international community, the US ahead as usual, since Europe is militarily impotent when it comes to large scale interventions (except for the UK), would have eventually intervened to stabilize the situation. And we’d be in a very, very similar mess.

      In other words, the odds are pretty good we would have gone through this, or a similar scenario, regardless.

      The Americans just happen to be in a crossfire that was already set up, and has been ready to go for at least 15 or 20 years. Saddam has raped, tortured and persecuted the Shias for nearly 3 decades, did even worse to the Kurds and sent an entire generation on the battlefields, buried entire cities in mass graves. The huge anger and massive frustration this has bred is now exploding.

      The US only uncorked the bottle. The alternative ? Waiting through another 12 years of ineffective UN resolutions – makes you wonder why they are even called ‘resolutions’ – and wait for France and Germany, who can’t even line up more than 10,000 men to agree that it’s finally time to take the bastard down ? Ten more years of this hell and the explosion of rage would be even worse.

      I agree with you, to the extent that things will probably get worse before they get better. But I don’t think we agree on how bad they actually are.

      Time will tell.

      As for true multilateralism, I don’t know what that means. What multilateral UN intervention has been a brilliant success ? Lebanon was a disaster. Somalia was a flop. Bosnia was an abysmal failure until the US took over.

      Interestingly, the only multilateral intervention that achieved its objective and delivered decent results is the one that was decided, initiated and executed outside the U.N. : Kosovo, in 1999.

      Coincidence ? I think not.

      I don’t see what France and others can bring to the table that will change the situation on the ground. The belief that another 30,000 men with blue helmets will magically do what 155,000 Americans have a tough time doing today is silly.

      And watch the fate of the U.N. headquarters, in case you think they’ll be immune to attacks, or granted more respect by the local.

      In a way, I’d paraphrase former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner when he joined the company. “The last thing this company needs now is a vision”. Same thing with Iraq. The last thing we need is diplomatic grandstanding over high principles and other U.N. bullcrap. We need to make it work, on the ground. To fix roads, schools, hospitals, pipelines and all the other stuff that has been decaying for decades while the regime built itself palaces and luxury mansions.

      Enough with conditions for this, that and the other thing, and negotiations and tit-for-tat diplomacy in the hallways of Paris, New York and Geneva. Chirac, Schroeder and all have been talking principles and morality long enough. Time to show how it’s done instead. Put up, or shut up.

      Whatever you think of the US position, or its Administration, they are the ones who took Saddam down, they are the ones taking the risks and paying the price. Maybe we should stop playing armchair generals; and if we were there on the ground taking the hits with them, I can guarantee you they’d be listening to us a lot more. That’s how Americans work. You don’t tell them what to do when you have absolutely nothing involved and are not risking one single man or a single euro. That’s just arrogant and insulting.

      The U.N. process and what bit of paperwork is done and why is secondary here. It was, and justly so, in Kosovo. Same here.

    17. Lex Says:

      David Warren’s recent column is consistent with Sylvain’s point. The whole reason Bush wants some UN resolution now is not to get the French to “help” but to give diplomatic cover to various parties that would like to participate — Japan for instance.

      The big question to ask about any “UN involvement” is “what the Hell does that mean?” The only country that actually do anything is the USA, and a few others can meaningfully help out, like the UK. Otherwise, it is just a way of adding some bureaucracy to a situation where, as Sylvain says, concrete work being done is enough to keep everybody busy.

    18. John Weidner Says:

      I think your post misses the point. The democracy and Capitalism and Globalization that we are trying to inflict on Iraq are WEAPONS of enormous corrosive power. If allowed to work for a few years they will burn away repressive and obscurantist Arab traditional life like our bombs burned Tokyo. (And like our democratic impositions destroyed Japanese and German militarism.) The bombs and the freedom combined are weapons of total victory–very Jacksonian.

      I’ve blooged more about this at:

      http://www.randomjottings.net/archives/2003_09.html#000103

      (Thanks for the inspiration.)

    19. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Thanks John.

      Lex, yeah, I don’t know what UN involvement or multilateralism mean. Nobody has been able to tell me, since it’s essentially never been done since the U.N. came to be. Even the Gulf War. Sure. Everybody signed on to but the US provided 90% of the men and hardware. Until Europe has the means of its stated ambitions, multilateralism means the US takes all the risk, does all the planning, and all the dirty work after everybody else has approved. Somehow, that arrangement is considered fair. I don’t think so.

      As for the U.N., it is disliked if not downright hated by the locals everywhere it’s involved. The Afghans don’t like them, the Bosnians don’t like them, the Kosovars don’t like them, the Timorese don’t like them. All they see is white people who don’t even bother to speak their language driving around in brand new $35,000 SUVs and buying themselves the nicest houses, under the protection of foreign armed men. But I guess colonialist behavior is OK with us as long as it’s multilateral and the responsibilities, and consequences, are thus diluted.

      Of course, some will argue that some of the relevant factions in Iraq would prefer the U.N. to be involved. But let’s not fool ourselves; it’s not because they like the U.N. It’s because they know it’s an impotent, bureaucratic, compromising, spineless, toothless bunch and they’ll have a much better chance to grow their power with them around.

      In general, it’s well known throughout the world you can take potshots at U.N. soldiers and never catch any return fire.

      But take a couple of shots at U.S soldiers and you bring a precision air strike on your arse.

    20. Noel Says:

      The main reason we went into Iraq was to drive a stake into the heart of the Arabist/Islamist Mullahcratic world, and drag it into the 21st century out of self-defense. Bush stressed other related & valid motives before the war because the truth is impolitic.

      As a conservative, I wish it were not so. But we cannot hide behind our oceans anymore, nor placate nor appease; to do so is dangerous wishful thinking…and wishful thinking is the opposite of conservatism. We have only one real option: Victory.

    21. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Noel, yeah, but you have to give yourself the means to do so. The Administration gave itself the means to win the war and then some.

      The after-war part is not so well organized. Which is fine by me, really. It’s still very early and the project is massive. This ain’t Bosnia – still being rebuilt 8 years later – or tiny Kosovo or East Timor, or even Afghanistan. This is a mid-size country of 24 million.

      Europeans, who did absolutely nothing, insist this should have been planned ahead. But you can’t plan a post-war independently of the war itself. What you can do after a war, what you need to do and how you will do it depends on how the war itself goes. The post-war period is a consequence of the war; the war is the cause of the post-war period. The notion that you can plan the consequence independently from the cause is the kind of thinking that is typical of the EU, and a major source of economic and social policy failure over there.

      Besides, the US never had a ready master plan to rebuild Germany or Japan after the way; yet they rebuilt both places after bombing and destroying them a heck of a lot more than Iraq (two A-bombs on Japan, for crying out loud), set up political institutions and I don’t see anyone arguing either country is failure 50 years ago. But in 1946, 47, 48 and until the mid-50s, they certainly were sad shadows of their former selves. This is not housing development. It’s about rebuilding a whole nation. It doesn’t happen in 6 months or even 6 years.

      This being said, once the war is done, you need to be even more serious and be ready to do whatever it takes. It looks like the White House is ready but, due to the political agenda at home – looming elections – and the economy, due to bad communication from the Administration – got to admit they suck on the PR front – Congress is no longer willing to sign a big check. Hence the need to go around and get help from people who shouldn’t be involved in a 1,000 years.

      But if that’s what it takes, well….it’s a necessary evil.

    22. rds Says:

      Lex: I’m a charter member of Bush’s Jacksonian core and I’d jump off a cliff if he left Iraq before establishing a stable democracy there. A free Iraq is one of our most important weapons in the war. My support for Bush’s Iraq strategy has all along been based on that premise. You’ve got this wrong.

    23. Alexander Crawford Says:

      Sylvain,

      Do you want the Libertarian grouse or the realpolitick US pollster angle? Libertarian short answer: because no one wants to admit that Congress has given up the sole authority to declare war to the White House in order to weasel out of being held responsible for unpopular adventures in wildernesses like Liberia that will only lose votes.

      The US can be in a state of war in Afghanistan because of the NATO treaty, as article V is basically a blank check from Congress on war. But not Iraq. The US has justified every attack on Iraq over the last 13 years with the UN SC resolutions. So saying UN involvement in Iraq saves the GOP from having to listen to constant calls for America to surrender from the Democrats. In public statements, the “UN involvement” is shortened to a simple “UN”, as in “the UN is doing this”, and even “The WHOLE WORLD is taking a hand in Iraq via the UN, and America should be proud to be leading the world hand in hand with the UN”. Every time “US” is used now, “UN” will be used when it’s bad news, and “US” will be reserved for only good news. Great trick.

      “Multilateral” is used as a code word for “the US, Japan, Russia, and EU sans France”.

      As much as I hate the UN, I have to conceed that M. Albright convinced me with this simple point: The UN costs the US taxpayer less than $2 billion dollars a year, and at that price it’s a bargin. At that Price the US can keep the current UN and pay for a sexier more controlable brand spanking new international organization called something like…. “International Peace Organization” or the Consortium of Independent Nations.

    24. Noel Says:

      Sylvain,

      Concur except for one point: many members of Congress ARE willing to write big checks for everything under the sun…except this.

      I agree with some of the other comments, too; Mead is basing his argument on biased press reports. And Bush is doing this to get cover for those who need it. Also, to free up our assets.

      We need to double the size of the military and do away with all the PC nonsense that hinders our defense. Tall orders, eh?

    25. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Noel, I am not sure it is a question of size only. I would be for training a lot more Special Forces, for instance. Call back special ops reservists to train them, etc.

    26. kodiak Says:

      Alexander Crawford,

      As much as I hate the UN, I have to conceed that M. Albright convinced me with this simple point: The UN costs the US taxpayer less than $2 billion dollars a year (…)

      You forgot to mention the billions of euros in arrears the USA owes to the UN. The behaviour of the USA is the one of a reluctant taxpayer or of an insolvent 3rd-World country.

    27. Kodiak Says:

      Sylvain,

      The post-war period is a consequence of the war(…)
      Reads: a consequence of US serial-rapist-like behaviour with regards to UN law (“preventive” wars are banned among UN members).

      It looks like the White House (…) got to admit they suck on the PR front (…)”
      Even that is overoptimistic! The USA has obviously completely lost the war for truth. It’s also losing the ongoing unilateral war against the State of Iraq (6.000 troops evacuated, including 1.500 seriously injured >>> see data from Germany-based transit bases & Andrews bases). Countries like India demand explicit UN approval before considering helping the US army in disarray. This UN greenlight is subordinated to the conditions that Gauleiter Bremer is removed shortly & that quick power devolution to Iraqis is implemented. But for Bush the predictable return to UN legality means also losing any hope of face-saving… BTW: Rumsfeld has just sent an additional 10.000 troops to make up for the loss of UN support (as India), although he was so martially positive that there wasn’t any need for more soldiers in Iraq (everything was “under control”…). Multilateralism is no doubt about to be re-enforced shortly.

    28. Alexander Crawford Says:

      Kodiak,

      I think your Euro-Dollar exchage code is buggy. That or you’re getting a unique rate.

      There’s no shortage of US government and Pro-UN sites on the net that have the actual figures you’re looking for… here’s one.

      http://www.cunr.org/priorities/Arrears.htm

      “On 30 September 2002, President Bush signed into law the Fiscal Year 2002-2003 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, H.R. 1646.  Since 1994 no such State Department Authorization Bill has been able to pass Congress, yet this year was different.  In the words of Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), the U.S. took “a huge step toward normalizing our relationship with the United Nations” with the recent signing into law of H.R. 1646, because with its passage the United States has made the last of its U.N. arrears payments.  With the release of this $244 million sum, representing the third and final arrears payment, the U.S. absolved its debt to the U.N.
      In recent years, the continued failure of the U.S. to make its payments to the U.N. has become a hotly contested issue.  As recent as 30 September 2002, the United States owed the U.N. approximately $1.33 billion.  Of this number, roughly $600 million is the result of contributions outstanding from prior years.  These contested arrears result from discrepancies in the percentages assessed by the U.N. and those agreed to be paid by the U.S.  The remainder of the $1.33 billion owed, roughly $745 million, is the result of year 2002 assessments that will remain unpaid until the FY03 Commerce, Justice, State and Judicial (CJSJ) Appropriations Bill passes Congress.”

      The site continues with the 2003 complete funding request, and it’s not “billions” of Euros.

      Now… given that I’ve provided you with the means to address your lack of knowledge, and assuming that you’ll check my source as well as the links to the House bills related to UN allocation…. I have a question: are you open minded enough to admit you were misinformed if provided with an appropriate degree of refutation? Because if so, we can talk turkey. If not, well then there’s no grounds for debate.

    29. Alexander Crawford Says:

      Kodiak,

      “The post-war period is a consequence of the war(…)
      Reads: a consequence of US serial-rapist-like behaviour with regards to UN law (“preventive” wars are banned among UN members).”

      Here’s a link to the UN charter:

      http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/

      and the Security Council “veto” (which is really a requirement that there be no negative votes in order for a proposed item to pass).

      http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/resguide/scvote.htm#veto

      Honestly brah, it’s hard to know if you’re serious or just messing with us… If you’re on the net and not Chinese you should have access to the UN library just like everyone else. Don’t take my or Sylvains word for something regarding the UN. Ask us for a link or reference, and/or check the UN records and regs for yourself. There’s really no excuse for an educated person who’s interested in the UN to do other than use the UN as a resource… well, I suppose being lazy is my excuse for some NGO links that are quicker than the House link, but you understand what I mean.

      So there’s no basis for some of the fallacious views you seem to have regarding the UN. You do neither yourself nor the UN justice by misrepresenting the organization in a public forum.

      Regarding the US military claims…. could you please provide links or references to support your case? I actually do have any number of logistical and personal docs related to OIF, but I’m not familiar with those that you mention.