A sign of hope for Iraq
A Financial Times editorial once wrote of American policy in Iraq that given an array of bad options they usually choose something even worse.
This has been the pattern of American behavior since 2003. But, for once, statements from British and American generals and indications of what James Baker's Iraq Study Group will recommend are actually starting to show signs of the kind of realistic thinking that may actually start to get Iraq out of the mess that America created.
To get an idea of the change that is happening, one should listen carefully to what General Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the British Army, said about the war in Iraq.
First, in an interview with the Daily Mail, he said that Britain (also read America) needs to get out of Iraq within two years because they are making the security situation worse. If Britain and America do not make a serious plan for exiting Iraq any policy that is put together will never succeed.
Second, in an interview with the BBC, he added "What I do know that is important is that Iraq stays together as a unitary state". That is, the overriding priority of the British army is to prevent Iraq from breaking up. Which is exactly right - as I said before, if Iraq is allowed to fragment, there will be an international war that will have disastrous consequences for the world let alone Iraq.
The other positive sign is that we are now treated to the surreal scene of cheerleaders for the 2003 war turning against their American hosts. Nibras Kazimi is a shining example. He writes:
The comments made yesterday by Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell about the relative slow-down in Operation Forward Together are very surprising to me. ... Contrary to Caldwell’s assessment, things are going moderately well.Hmm, who to believe - an armchair politician or a general that is actually in the thick of the fighting. Any suggestions?
Nibras goes further:
The Baker-Hamilton Commission is leaning towards declaring the “Sudden Infant Death” of a democratic Iraq. ... Sorry folks, our baby—our democracy—is alive and kicking, and is kicking harder.Well, if that is true then let the Americans leave the Green Zone and see what happens. I don't think even he believes that the government will last for more than a day. What we have seen is the complete failure of the Iraqi government and its opponents in the Baathist insurgency to establish evan a small base of popular support among the Iraqi people. There is a vacuum and this is being filled up by the militias. The current government is only making matters progressively worse. The new federalism law will only drive the region to a new world war.
Abandoning the current government will not, on its own, solve Iraq's problems. America must drop its support for the sectarian politics that are tearing Iraq apart and we Iraqis must move to create a new independent secular movement to fill the current political vacuum in Iraq.