Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Friday, July 11, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

No Exit

Still ain't a directly-elected, representative government with total power to run its own country, but maybe they're getting there:

Representatives of the major political, ethnic and religious groups of Iraq - some of them skilled politicians, some of them exile leaders coming home and others political neophytes united by their suffering under Saddam Hussein - will declare the first postwar interim government in Iraq this weekend, Western and Iraqi officials said tonight.
After eight weeks of negotiations with the American and British occupation powers, a "governing council" of between 21 and 25 members will be granted extensive executive powers. The new body of Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, Christians and Turkmen will share responsibility for running the country under a United Nations resolution that will continue to vest Washington and London with ultimate authority until a sovereign government is elected and a new constitution ratified, the officials said.

There is no clear timetable for a transition to an elected government.

It's good that His Majesty, L. Paul Bremer III, is allowing some Iraqis executive powers. However, I am troubled by the lack of timetable:

Retiring Gen. Tommy Franks capped two days of testimony before key congressional committees in which he and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld offered their starkest assessments yet of the length and scope of the U.S. commitment in Iraq - a commitment the Pentagon had predicted before the war would be sharply decreasing by now.
Franks said U.S. troops would stay in Iraq as long as it takes to allow Iraqis to create a government and take over control of the nation from a U.S.-led administrator. "I don't know whether that means two years or four years. I just don't know," Franks said before the House Armed Services Committee.

That's less than the decade we'd heard in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee just a few weeks ago, but still nobody really knows. All we hear is we'll be there "a long time" and "until the security situation improves". Lots of fuzzy words that lack specifics and don't instill great confidence. Funny, when Clinton wanted to send troops to Bosnia to implement the Dayton accords, Republicans were up in arms about "nation-building" and "exit strategy". Same thing when he wanted to send peacekeepers to Kosovo:

"People in my district want to know the exit strategy," said Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., "Getting answers from the administration is part of our job."
Critics of the administration's troop proposal rallied around [a proposal to protest American troops in Kosovo] by Rep. Tillie Fowler, R-Fla.
"It is not within our power to solve all the world's problems," she said.

Wise words in 1997, and wise words in 2003. But in these days of George Bush's Perpetual War, such counsel is not welcome. Back in March, a Council on Foreign Relations study stated what was obvious to pretty much everybody except the administration and the American people duped by his rhetoric:

The war isn't over when Saddam is gone and the major fighting stops. There is a very high probability that the world faces years of tension and uncertainty as the internal future of Iraq is decided, and as it establishes new relations with the West and the nations around it. Put differently, the hope for quick post-war stability is probably futile. So is the idea winning in Iraq will bring broader stability or "democracy" to the Gulf or Middle East.

I think a combination of arrogance and naivete has caused BushCo to miss the forest for the trees as it were. Thus Iraq is still without true self-government, our troops come under attack daily, and there is no end in sight. What brought us here?

Today we see finger-pointing about yellowcake from Niger, but what's more disturbing than that single deception is the overall mosaic it is a part of. It is a mosaic of lies, incompetence, and lack of vision. It is a mosaic of an administration hell-bent on an illegal invasion, giving no thought to the consequences. It is not a pretty picture.

I am reminded of what Inez says at the end of Sartre's play No Exit:

One always dies too soon - or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are - your life, and nothing else.

We are the sum of our actions, and there is a reckoning. President Bush should keep that in mind.


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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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