Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Wednesday, November 12, 2003
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Internationalizing The Occupation Won't Work

Blast at Italian police HQ in Iraq kills 22.

For months I've been writing about how I think everybody is wrong in calling for UN or other international involvement in the occupation (if you're interested, start reading what I wrote on August 22 and follow the links to work backwards). A week ago I advocated that we cut and run, turning over any security details to Arab nations as one potential approach to handling the resulting vacuum. I'm becoming more convinced that will be the only way to go.

If you check out what I said this summer, I looked at a number of fatwas that fundamentally said that any soldiers supporting the US occupation would be targets. Only those troops perceived to be aiding our exiting Iraq and turning over power to Iraqis would be considered legitimate and not occupiers. Dean is wrong. Kucinich is wrong. McCain is wrong. Neither the US nor the UN can expect success in Iraq.

My skepticism is also growing about the current dismissal of comparisons to Vietnam, at least as far as the insurgency goes. Here's what General Sanchez said:

"It's not Vietnam, and there's no way you can make the comparison to the quagmire of Vietnam, when you look at the progress that's being made, when you look at the lack of popular support for the previous regime," the general said. "There's no alternative political structure that the people of Iraq are going to embrace that is connected to this anticoalition element. I think it's just amazing that anybody would think that it's an alternative to go back to that oppressive, brutal regime."

I think he's missing the point. While former Ba'athists might be a part of this fight, look at the type of things Iraqis were saying back in August (sorry, the Iraq-Today link this came from is no longer available):

Don't be mistaken. I am happy to be rid of the nightmare of Saddam and appreciate what America did to get rid of him. But a more significant question still looms over the Coalition, the CPA and the Governing Council: can they find real solutions for trivial problems, so that we can trust to find real solutions for the really major ones?

Iraqis have the same nuanced opinion many of us in the anti-war movement have: glad Saddam is gone, but the US doesn't get a free pass just for that. The Shia are getting restless, the resistance is growing, and I think Sanchez offers us a strawman when he expresses amazement that anybody would think of going back to the old regime. Most Iraqis don't want to go back. They also don't want a US-imposed government, either.

Other things people have said about the insurgency include "they have no state support like the VC had", "they don't have popular support", etc. I'm not so sure. We're told foreign fighters are part of the mix--that sounds like there might be some state support. And in light of increased attacks, stories we've heard about retribution against collaborators, anecdotal evidence of growing discontent with the occupation, polling data that suggest Iraqis are suspicious of US motives, etc, it seems there might be growing popular support for the insurgency.

Arguing by historical analogy is mostly a useless exercise, but it can be instructive in small doses. One lesson we should have learned from our experience in Vietnam and the Soviets' in Afghanistan is that being a superpower does not mean you can win a fight against guerrillas on their home turf. In fact, it seems the only guarantee is that a superpower will be so arrogant that they think they can do better than all the other superpowers that got caught in past quagmires.

We're in one now, but there's still time to change course. Get the Arab League on board, get the US troops out, and let's work more constructively to create a secure, stable Iraqi democracy.


[Update: About that popular support:

A new top-secret intelligence report warns that Iraqis are losing faith in U.S.-led occupation forces, a development that is increasing support for the resistance, officials said Wednesday.

The prosecution rests.]

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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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