diet coke for breakfast

Friday, October 08, 2004

Posted by Tanstaafl
The Administration and Iraq:

[Rumsfeld] described a decision-making process that has no formal structure, but involves constant consultations, involving State Department types like Ambassador John Negroponte, military types like Gen. George Casey and Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, and a raft of Iraqi officials. It also involves the big Washington honchos like Powell, Rumsfeld and Bush.

It was clear from our conversation (and from the way other administration officials talk about decision-making in Iraq) that the charge that Allawi is a puppet is just absurd. Allawi has the best feel for which Iraqi community or faction has to be catered to on any given day, and how best to reach over and get some Sunni support for the government. Moreover, Rumsfeld says the goal is to give Iraqis the room to make their own decisions: 'The worst thing we can do is smother them.'

Many people (Andrew Sullivan, Daniel Drezner, and I believe our very own Jake for instance) are frustrated with the way the war and reconstruction of Iraq have been handled. They supported the invasion, but complain that since the initial days, the administration has botched the whole exercise. While, I am also frustrated by the myriad of problems in Iraq, and I'm wary that it could still spiral further into chaos, I still have trouble faulting the administration.

First, I lay the blame primarily on people like al-Zarqawi and the Baathist remnants. They attack civilians and then act like it is the US's fault. They blow-up their own country-men in the name of ousting the "occupier". They cut off the heads of civilian contractors who are trying to rebuild the infrastructure of their country. They are evil, and backward, and and must be defeated.

It's true that these evil-doers, as the President often refers to them, may have taken us a bit by surprise. I've heard the criticism that while we hoped for the best, we neglected to plan for the worst. However, I disagree with that statement. We planned for a long hard slog through the desert to Baghdad, under a rain of chemical weapons, and across burning moats of oil. We planned for months, possibly years of door to door, high-intensity, urban combat through Baghdad with the Republican Gaurd and the Saddam Fedayeen. It didn't happen. The US and Iraqi military and civilian casualties would have been far greater in that case, and we should thank our military commanders that they were able to devise a plan that was flexible enough to capitalize on the previously known weaknesses of the Baathist military and those discovered through the course of battle in those opening days.

Some people say, that yes, we were able to take Baghdad, but obviously we don't have enough troops on the ground to pacify the nation. However, I'm unconvinced that more troops would significantly improve the situation. I'm inclined to believe those that say that more US or Coalition troops would further alienate Iraqis, rightfully inflame their sense of nationality, and lend credibility to the terrorists calls to arms.

Instead, I think that the most compelling plan is the administration's current course. Train Iraqis to take control of the security situation. Then, when these terrorists attack, they're unable to claim they're fighting the infidel invader. They'll be killing their own countrymen, which will only serve to alienate these murderers.

Elections should further empower the Iraqi people to root out and defeat the malignant growth of these killers. A government with the explicit support of the people will have a greater mandate to battle the forces of evil that are trying to wrest control of the country and divert Iraqis history from the path toward freedom and democracy.

In general, it is my belief that while the current situation is grim, it is getting better. Nothing is ever perfect, the Administration has made mistakes and many of their plans have had to be scrapped or revised. But, that is to be expected. It is impossible to predict the future and it is unlikely that better planning could prevented many of the problems that have arisen. Those problems are caused by a determined group of evil men. No matter what plans we had put in place, they would have found a way to attack what our troops and the Iraqi people are working to accomplish.


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