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Cablegate: Peru's Un Ambassador On Iraq

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

211715Z Nov 05



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Peru's new Ambassador to the United Nations, Oswaldo de
Rivero, who will represent Peru on the Security Council
Starting in January, recently authored an article entitled,
"Is Iraq Another Vietnam?" in the Lima intellectual journal
"Quehacer." De Rivero's piece criticizes U.S. policy in
Iraq, predicts that the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government's
rule will lead to civil war, doubts that the USG can sustain
its troop deployment, argues that today's world is a-polar,
and characterizes the goal of democratic transformation in
the Middle East as "the mother of all strategic nightmares."
End Summary.

2. De Rivero's article makes the following points:

Mounting Costs:

--Two years after President Bush declared "Mission
accomplished" in Iraq, the costs continue to add up:

--Over 1,800 dead, 13,000 wounded.

--A monetary expense of over USD one billion/week, a total of
USD 204 billion.

Iraq and Vietnam

--Iraq differs from Vietnam in military terms:

-- The insurgents are loosely organized Sunnis and foreign
terrorists, not a conventional army.

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-- The Iraqi terrorist resistance is less well equipped than
were the Vietnamese communists.

-- Iraq is largely an urban war as opposed to a jungle one.

-- U.S. casualties are far lower in Iraq than in Vietnam, two
to four deaths a week versus at times seventy a day in

--The big similarity between Iraq and Vietnam, however, that
spells trouble for the U.S. is American public opposition.
According to Gallup, 59 percent of Americans oppose the Iraq

--De Rivero adds that a fatal "paradox" characterizes U.S.
policy in Iraq. In Vietnam, the United States was setting up
a friendly regime. In Iraq, it has installed an
Iranian-backed Shiite government. To underscore his point,
de Rivero cites the "New York Review of Books," which, he
notes, has called the Iraqi government "The Islamic Republic
of (President) Bush."

From Islamic Republic to Failed State

--De Rivero does not think that an Shiite-dominated
government can bring stability to Iraq. Instead, he says:

-- Shiite domination will inspire a permanent Sunni
insurgency that will lead to civil war and the break-up of
Iraq along factional lines (Shiite, Sunni, Kurd).

-- Today's Iraq is no longer a state unified by repression,
but a failed state.

-- Under these conditions, the costs of the occupation will
become untenable.

-- Consequently, the U.S. has already begun planning for the
withdrawal of U.S. troops beginning in October 2006.

From Unipolar Moment to A-polar Mess

--De Rivero argues that the problems in Iraq mirror the
problems of the global system. He thinks the U.S. is too
overextended to operate as a "unipolar" power, according to
the ideas of the American neoconservatives. (Note: The term
unipolar comes from Charles Krauthammer's 1990-1991 "Foreign
Affairs" article, "The Unipolar Moment," in which he argued
that the U.S. should use the temporary and dominating
position it had acquired with the end of the Cold War to
effect change in the global system. End Note.) To
illustrate, de Rivero says:

-- The United States controls neither Iraq nor Afghanistan,
the latter of which has become a "narco-state" and the
world's biggest heroin exporter.
-- U.S. armed forces are having trouble meeting recruitment
-- The U.S. has not dissuaded Pakistan, India, North Korea,
and Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
-- The U.S. economy is suffering from the largest fiscal and
trade deficits in its history. Consequently, it depends on
foreigners in Japan, China, and other countries in Europe and
Asia to buy its bonds so it can stay afloat financially.

--The inability of the U.S. to serve as a unipolar anchor is
clearly perceived by experts, including Niall Ferguson, Paul
Kennedy, Joseph Nye, Samuel Huntington, and Zbigniew
Brzezinski, the last of whom de Rivero quotes approvingly as
warning that the U.S. should not, "confuse preponderance with

--Unipolarity is dead, but this does not mean that true
multipolarity exists. Instead, de Rivero maintains that the
world is a-polar. "The reality," he says, "is that
practically all of the (big) powers are almost impotent."
Today, the global system suffers from an authority deficit
that promotes chaos, fragmentation, civil wars, terrorism,
genocide, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons and drugs,
among other problems. Even vigorous action by the U.S. is
not enough. Failed states are easier to invade than they are
to occupy and successfully re-engineer. In the end, de
Rivero concludes, the neoconservatives' dream of transforming
Iraq into a democratic magnet for the Middle East has become
"the mother of all strategic nightmares."


3. De Rivero's article offers a fairly standard critique of
U.S. Iraq policy and allegations that the U.S. is
overextended. He is a skilled writer and obviously well read
in the standard sources on U.S. foreign policy. Since de
Rivero will represent Peru on the Security Council starting
in January, it will be interesting to see how his personal
views on Iraq influence his actions. Post is faxing WHA/AND
a copy of the entire text of his article.

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