Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Ivan Eland: Bush's Real Strategy In Iraq

Courting Disaster: Bush's Real Strategy In Iraq


By Ivan Eland*
June 1, 2004
From: http://www.independent.org/tii/news/040601Eland.html

President Bush’s strategy in Iraq is now clear. And I don’t mean the five-point rehash of existing platitudes found in his recent ''major'' speech at the Army War College. I’m talking about the real, behind-the-scenes plan. In the battles for the Sunni town of Falluja and the Shiite cities south of Baghdad, the Bush administration has essentially capitulated—hoping to reduce, until the U.S. election is over, images of fighting, mayhem and U.S. blood streaming to the American public.

In Falluja, the U.S. military has withdrawn its forces, and the town is being run by anti-U.S. guerrillas and a former general from Saddam Hussein’s regime. Similarly, the United States has agreed to pull out most of its forces from towns in the south and allow the rebellious militias of Moktada al-Sadr to remain armed and intact. The U.S. military has also agreed to suspend its arrest warrant for al-Sadr (there is even talk of offering this “villain” or his supporters a place in the interim government, which will be instituted on June 30). This most recent Bush administration flip-flop is a far cry from earlier boasts to “kill or capture” al-Sadr and “destroy” his militia. In fact, in an implicit admission that a unified and democratic Iraq will never happen, the United States has elected to avoid the risk of disarming the many armies and militias all over the country.

Of course, for the long-term, this administration strategy does nothing to create a stable and peaceful Iraq. The plan is merely a short-term way to stanch the president’s hemorrhaging in polls at home and maximize his dimming chances for reelection. But then this invasion was always less about making life better for the Iraqis than doing so for the neo-conservatives who hijacked the U.S. government for their own pet overseas social engineering project.

There is a better and more honorable way for the Bush administration to extricate itself from the Iraqi quagmire soon enough for memories to fade before the U.S. November election, while at the same time giving Iraqis the best chance for peace and eventual prosperity. Such a strategy requires true and immediate self-determination for all factions in Iraq. Each locality could send a representative to a constitutional convention unattended by any member of the U.S. military or occupation authority. Thus, the convention would be representative of the views of Iraqi society. The delegates would not only negotiate the future governing structure of Iraq but also key issues such as the future distribution of oil revenues. Iraqis would then ratify by referendum what the convention produced. More than likely, the constitutional convention would produce some type of loose confederation—giving substantial autonomy to various groups, tribes or regions—or even three or more independent states.

The various Iraqi factions have retained their armed militias because they fear domination from other groups that might gain control of the governmental apparatus of a unified post-occupation Iraq. Such fears could cause a civil war. But the creation of a loose confederation or a partition should reduce such fears and lessen the chance of internecine conflict. Of course, there’s no guarantee peace has much hope after the Bush administration foolishly opened Pandora’s Box by removing the only thing holding this fractious, artificial country together—the dictator Saddam Hussein, who the U.S. once supported for years. But self-determination is the best remaining hope.

To those who say that such a “live and let live” agreement among Iraqi factions could not be reached, we need only look at the case of Sudan. The Islamic Sudanese government and the major Christian rebel group recently reached a peace agreement to decentralize power in the country to individual states, which would give the rebels effective control over the southern part of the country. Included in the arrangement is a referendum on secession to be held in six years in various parts of the country. The two factions also agreed to share oil revenues. Although the negotiated settlement of Sudan’s civil war isn’t perfect—it doesn’t include all factions in the country—the episode does show that decentralized governance among ethnic or religious groups can give armed combatants enough comfort to negotiate peace. Although the Sunnis oppressed the Kurds and Shia under Saddam’s rule, the bad blood between groups in Iraq is nowhere near the level of bitterness caused by the brutal Sudanese conflict (with more than 2 million casualties).

If the welfare of Iraqis was the paramount goal of U.S. leaders, U.S. policy in Iraq would be designed to avoid a similarly nasty civil war. Instead, the Bush administration’s politically-driven strategy of retaining a unified Iraqi government, while mollifying armed factions that will eventually try to gain control of it, is a recipe for just such a disaster.

***********

*Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute in Oakland, CA., and author of the book, Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World. For further articles and studies, see the War on Terrorism and OnPower.org.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news