Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Grand Plan for Iraq

Here's a summation of the initial thought from the Administration as reported by Mark Danner in the NY Review of Books:

[Heritage Foundation's] DeMuth drafted an influential report, entitled "Delta of Terrorism," which concluded, in the author's paraphrase, that "the United States was in for a two-generation battle with radical Islam":

..."We concluded that a confrontation with Saddam was inevitable. He was a gathering threat—the most menacing, active and unavoidable threat.

...Behind the notion that an American intervention will make of Iraq "the first Arab democracy," as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz put it, lies a project of great ambition. It envisions a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq—secular, middle-class, urbanized, rich with oil—that will replace the autocracy of Saudi Arabia as the key American ally in the Persian Gulf, allowing the withdrawal of United States troops from the kingdom. The presence of a victorious American Army in Iraq would then serve as a powerful boost to moderate elements in neighboring Iran, hastening that critical country's evolution away from the mullahs and toward a more moderate course. Such an evolution in Tehran would lead to a withdrawal of Iranian support for Hezbollah and other radical groups, thereby isolating Syria and reducing pressure on Israel. This undercutting of radicals on Israel's northern borders and within the West Bank and Gaza would spell the definitive end of Yasir Arafat and lead eventually to a favorable solution of the Arab-Israeli problem.

Almost like on Miss America--you know, 'I wish for World Peace...'...

This is a vision of great sweep and imagination: comprehensive, prophetic, evangelical. In its ambitions, it is wholly foreign to the modesty of containment, the ideology of a status-quo power that lay at the heart of American strategy for half a century. It means to remake the world, to offer to a political threat a political answer. It represents a great step on the road toward President Bush's ultimate vision of "freedom's triumph over all its age-old foes."[6]

I don't see any mention of this little "religion" thing. Maybe an oversight?

Nope; it shows up later in the essay:

The central question of how power and resources should be divided in Iraq and what the country should look like, a question that was going to be settled peacefully by the nascent political institutions of the "first Arab democracy," has become the critical political issue dividing Kurd from Sunni and Sunni from Shia, and also dividing the sectarian political coalitions themselves. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the leader of the "unity government," on whom President Bush repeatedly calls to "dismantle the militias," is in fact dependent for his own political survival on Moqtada al-Sadr, the creator and leader of the largest militia, the Mahdi Army. Indeed, the two most important militias are controlled by the two most powerful parties in parliament.

Increasingly the "unity government" itself, quarreling vituperatively within the Green Zone, serves as an impotent echo of the savage warfare raging beyond the walls. The partitioning of Iraq is now openly advocated by many—including such prominent American politicians as Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—desperate to find "a solution," however illusory, to the war, anything that will allow the Americans to withdraw, while avoiding any admission of defeat.

Backwards a bit in time:

Inherent in the War of Imagination were certain rather obvious contradictions: Donald Rumsfeld's dream of a "demonstration model" war of quick, overwhelming victory did not foresee an extended occupation—on the contrary, the defense secretary abjured, publicly and vociferously, any notion that his troops would be used for "nation-building." Rumsfeld's war envisioned rapid victory and rapid departure. [Rummy was right on this score and in the success of the project.] Wolfowitz and the other Pentagon neoconservatives, on the other hand, imagined a "democratic transformation," a thoroughgoing social revolution that would take a Baathist Party–run autocracy, complete with a Baathist-led army and vast domestic spying and security services, and transform it into a functioning democratic polity—without the participation of former Baathist officials.

"Trouble in River City" was the name of that tune. It's the reason that some of us kept hearing two different exegeses of the Iraq conflict--there were two!

Our President has yet to explain precisely how "establishing democracy" will quash terrorist impulses midst Muslim extremists.

Perhaps that's why it will be a "two-generation-long" war?

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