“A fiasco without parallel”

Almost the last remaining thread keeping me attached to the pro-war camp is what you might call “the Hitchens defence”: that to pull out of Iraq now would leave ordinary Iraqis – particularly women, the anti-Islamist opposition and (as Christopher Hitchens himself never mentions) Christians – at the mercy of terrorists and theocratic fundamentalists, just as not to have gone in would have left them at the mercy of Saddam Hussein in what Hitchens describes as “a concentration camp above ground and a mass grave underneath it”.

Well, Simon Jenkins’ article from Wednesday’s Guardian has gone some way to breaking even that last thread. “To say we must stay in Iraq to save it from chaos is a lie”, writes Jenkins, who argues that “this is a fiasco without parallel in recent British history”:

Don’t be fooled a second time. They told you Britain must invade Iraq because of its weapons of mass destruction. They were wrong. Now they say British troops must stay in Iraq because otherwise it will collapse into chaos.

Politicians on all sides (even those who opposed the war in the first place) are agreed on “this second lie”:

Its axiom is that western soldiers are so competent that, wherever they go, only good can result. It is their duty not to leave Iraq until order is established, infrastructure rebuilt and democracy entrenched.

But as Simon Jenkins points out, that little word “until” is precisely the problem:

It hides a bloodstained half century of western self-delusion and arrogance. The white man’s burden is still alive and well in the skies over Baghdad (the streets are now too dangerous).

Soldiers and civilians may die by the hundred. Money may be squandered by the million. But Tony Blair tells us that only western values enforced by the barrel of a gun can save the hapless Mussulman from his own worst enemy, himself.

The original policy envisaged (and required) “momentum towards local sovereignty and early withdrawal”, but instead we have seen a “civil collapse” in which “we do not even know on which side are the Basra police”. Jenkins continues:

Iraqis of my acquaintance are numb at the violence unleashed by the west’s failure to impose order on their country. … They are past caring whether it was better or worse under Saddam. They know only that more people a month are being killed than at any time since the massacres of the early 1990s. If death and destruction are any guide, Britain’s pre-invasion policy of containment was far more successful than occupation.

Jenkins can see little positive being accomplished by the occupation:

Infrastructure is not being restored. Baghdad’s water, electricity and sewers are in worse shape than a decade ago. Huge sums – such as the alleged $1bn for military supplies – are being stolen and stashed in Jordanian banks. The new constitution is a dead letter except the clauses that are blatantly sharia. These are already being enforced de facto in Shia areas.

As for the argument that withdrawing would lead to “revenge attacks, ethnic cleansing and even partition”, Jenkins points out that “these are all happening anyway”. He concludes:

America left Vietnam and Lebanon to their fate. They survived. We left Aden and other colonies. Some, such as Malaya and Cyprus, saw bloodshed and partition. We said rightly that this was their business. So too is Iraq for the Iraqis. We have made enough mess there already.

Jenkins opposed the war from the start. So it’s scarcely surprising that he thinks we should cut our losses. However, I think he is certainly spot on with his comments about the “white man’s burden”, and the arrogant western assumption that we are able to make things better by being (and staying) there. It’s one thing to say, “you break it, you fix it”, but you don’t normally entrust crucial repairs to the person whose incompetence or stupidity caused the damage in the first place.

I then turned to Boris Johnson’s column in yesterday’s Telegraph. Johnson originally supported the war, but he recanted some time ago, and now writes:

What a shambles. What chaos. And how quickly it all seems to be getting worse.

Johnson describes how the two “undercover soldiers” sprung from a Baghdad prison by the British army earlier this week had refused to produce their documents at a checkpoint, “because they knew that the Iraqi police force in Basra is now completely riddled with extremist Shia elements”, and continues:

Consider the symbolic importance of that. We have spent 30 months working with the local Iraqi police in Basra. Hundreds of millions of British taxpayers’ money have gone on the rebuilding of the institutions of civic society, of which the police are the key component. We have coached them, drilled them, exhorted them and recruited them. Swarms of MPs and journalists have been flown out to admire the change we are wreaking.

And what is the net result? It is not that the Basra police suffer from the odd bad apple; no, it’s like the denouement of a nightmare Hollywood cop movie, in which you discover that virtually the entire force has been corrupted.

As Johnson concludes:

Whatever we achieve in Iraq, we will not have made our own world safer, or made the risk of terrorism less likely: quite the reverse.

Perhaps it is just my paranoia, but there was something too neat about the way the British authorities released the new pictures of the four suicide bombers this week, not just to take the heat out of the Basra story, but also subliminally to remind the public of the claim with which Blair invaded Iraq – that it was part of the “war on terror”.

That claim was a lie, and whatever good may come out of the Iraq war, we should never forget that it was based on that lie.

Finally, the Blood and Treasure blog points to apparent links between the “arrest” of the two British soldiers earlier this week and recent bombing attacks on British servicemen:

Assuming that this is correct, it follows that these attacks were undertaken with at least the tacit support of the Basra government, itself elected under the supervision of British occupation forces. In short, the government we installed is telling us that it’s time to leave.

All this calls to mind the suggestion made by someone during the Vietnam War, that the US should “say we won and go home”. I suspect we’ve reached the stage where that is the best we can hope to achieve in Iraq. And, to adopt a phrase from Michael Ledeen that Mark Steyn is fond of quoting (though for the opposite purpose): “Faster, please”.

Update: Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell depicted the “say we won and go home” approach well over a year ago. Don’t think he thought too much of it, though…

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72 Responses to “A fiasco without parallel”

  1. I blogged about this issue in July:
    “Let the UN take over in Iraq”
    http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/2005/07/let-un-take-over-in-iraq.html
    I wonder how many American Christians will finally come to realise how bad the situation is?

  2. I blogged about this issue in July:
    “Let the UN take over in Iraq”
    http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/2005/07/let-un-take-over-in-iraq.html
    I wonder how many American Christians will finally come to realise how bad the situation is?

  3. I blogged about this issue in July:
    “Let the UN take over in Iraq”
    http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/2005/07/let-un-take-over-in-iraq.html
    I wonder how many American Christians will finally come to realise how bad the situation is?

  4. I blogged about this issue in July:
    “Let the UN take over in Iraq”
    http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/2005/07/let-un-take-over-in-iraq.html
    I wonder how many American Christians will finally come to realise how bad the situation is?

  5. Josh S says:

    Letting the UN take over is like throwing the fox into the henhouse. The last thing we need is to put the criminals in charge of the UN in control so they can let their thugs run amok in that country.

  6. Josh S says:

    Letting the UN take over is like throwing the fox into the henhouse. The last thing we need is to put the criminals in charge of the UN in control so they can let their thugs run amok in that country.

  7. Josh S says:

    Letting the UN take over is like throwing the fox into the henhouse. The last thing we need is to put the criminals in charge of the UN in control so they can let their thugs run amok in that country.

  8. Josh S says:

    Letting the UN take over is like throwing the fox into the henhouse. The last thing we need is to put the criminals in charge of the UN in control so they can let their thugs run amok in that country.

  9. John H says:

    I agree that the UN’s track record in these situations is pretty abysmal, but what do you suggest instead?

  10. John H says:

    I agree that the UN’s track record in these situations is pretty abysmal, but what do you suggest instead?

  11. John H says:

    I agree that the UN’s track record in these situations is pretty abysmal, but what do you suggest instead?

  12. John H says:

    I agree that the UN’s track record in these situations is pretty abysmal, but what do you suggest instead?

  13. John D says:

    We just had a farewell party for someone going off to Iraq…
    I don’t even know what the superior Peter Hitchens is saying about Iraq anymore; do you, John?

  14. John D says:

    We just had a farewell party for someone going off to Iraq…
    I don’t even know what the superior Peter Hitchens is saying about Iraq anymore; do you, John?

  15. John D says:

    We just had a farewell party for someone going off to Iraq…
    I don’t even know what the superior Peter Hitchens is saying about Iraq anymore; do you, John?

  16. John D says:

    We just had a farewell party for someone going off to Iraq…
    I don’t even know what the superior Peter Hitchens is saying about Iraq anymore; do you, John?

  17. John H says:

    I’ve a feeling Peter Hitchens was anti-war from the start, on old-fashioned Tory grounds (national interest, non-interference with other states, etc).
    [short pause]
    I was right. See: http://www.antiwar.com/spectator/spec6.html (“…this is a left-wing conflict and Conservatives should not support it”).

  18. John H says:

    I’ve a feeling Peter Hitchens was anti-war from the start, on old-fashioned Tory grounds (national interest, non-interference with other states, etc).
    [short pause]
    I was right. See: http://www.antiwar.com/spectator/spec6.html (“…this is a left-wing conflict and Conservatives should not support it”).

  19. John H says:

    I’ve a feeling Peter Hitchens was anti-war from the start, on old-fashioned Tory grounds (national interest, non-interference with other states, etc).
    [short pause]
    I was right. See: http://www.antiwar.com/spectator/spec6.html (“…this is a left-wing conflict and Conservatives should not support it”).

  20. John H says:

    I’ve a feeling Peter Hitchens was anti-war from the start, on old-fashioned Tory grounds (national interest, non-interference with other states, etc).
    [short pause]
    I was right. See: http://www.antiwar.com/spectator/spec6.html (“…this is a left-wing conflict and Conservatives should not support it”).

  21. John H says:

    So… we have Christopher Hitchens, a left-winger supporting a war run by right-wingers on the grounds that its aims are really left-wing.
    And we have Peter Hitchens, a right-winger supporting an anti-war movement run by left-wingers on the grounds that its aims are really right-wing.
    You follow?
    The Hitchens family’s Christmases must be a blast. πŸ˜‰

  22. John H says:

    So… we have Christopher Hitchens, a left-winger supporting a war run by right-wingers on the grounds that its aims are really left-wing.
    And we have Peter Hitchens, a right-winger supporting an anti-war movement run by left-wingers on the grounds that its aims are really right-wing.
    You follow?
    The Hitchens family’s Christmases must be a blast. πŸ˜‰

  23. John H says:

    So… we have Christopher Hitchens, a left-winger supporting a war run by right-wingers on the grounds that its aims are really left-wing.
    And we have Peter Hitchens, a right-winger supporting an anti-war movement run by left-wingers on the grounds that its aims are really right-wing.
    You follow?
    The Hitchens family’s Christmases must be a blast. πŸ˜‰

  24. John H says:

    So… we have Christopher Hitchens, a left-winger supporting a war run by right-wingers on the grounds that its aims are really left-wing.
    And we have Peter Hitchens, a right-winger supporting an anti-war movement run by left-wingers on the grounds that its aims are really right-wing.
    You follow?
    The Hitchens family’s Christmases must be a blast. πŸ˜‰

  25. Chris Jones says:

    say we won and go home
    The “someone” who said that, IIRC, was George Romney, governor of Michigan who was running for President at the time he said this. As it happens, his son Mitt Romney is now governor of my state of Massachusetts, and looks to be mounting a serious bid for the Presidency himself.
    I wonder if Mitt Romney will take his father’s attitude towards Iraq?

  26. Chris Jones says:

    say we won and go home
    The “someone” who said that, IIRC, was George Romney, governor of Michigan who was running for President at the time he said this. As it happens, his son Mitt Romney is now governor of my state of Massachusetts, and looks to be mounting a serious bid for the Presidency himself.
    I wonder if Mitt Romney will take his father’s attitude towards Iraq?

  27. Chris Jones says:

    say we won and go home
    The “someone” who said that, IIRC, was George Romney, governor of Michigan who was running for President at the time he said this. As it happens, his son Mitt Romney is now governor of my state of Massachusetts, and looks to be mounting a serious bid for the Presidency himself.
    I wonder if Mitt Romney will take his father’s attitude towards Iraq?

  28. Chris Jones says:

    say we won and go home
    The “someone” who said that, IIRC, was George Romney, governor of Michigan who was running for President at the time he said this. As it happens, his son Mitt Romney is now governor of my state of Massachusetts, and looks to be mounting a serious bid for the Presidency himself.
    I wonder if Mitt Romney will take his father’s attitude towards Iraq?

  29. Josh,
    “Letting the UN take over is like throwing the fox into the henhouse. The last thing we need is to put the criminals in charge of the UN in control so they can let their thugs run amok in that country.”
    Typical anti-UN attitude. What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.
    As for them being criminals – all I can say is “Jack Abramoff”.

  30. Josh,
    “Letting the UN take over is like throwing the fox into the henhouse. The last thing we need is to put the criminals in charge of the UN in control so they can let their thugs run amok in that country.”
    Typical anti-UN attitude. What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.
    As for them being criminals – all I can say is “Jack Abramoff”.

  31. Josh,
    “Letting the UN take over is like throwing the fox into the henhouse. The last thing we need is to put the criminals in charge of the UN in control so they can let their thugs run amok in that country.”
    Typical anti-UN attitude. What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.
    As for them being criminals – all I can say is “Jack Abramoff”.

  32. Josh,
    “Letting the UN take over is like throwing the fox into the henhouse. The last thing we need is to put the criminals in charge of the UN in control so they can let their thugs run amok in that country.”
    Typical anti-UN attitude. What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.
    As for them being criminals – all I can say is “Jack Abramoff”.

  33. Thomas says:

    ‘Typical anti-UN attitude. What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.’
    Yes, unless you happen to be a Christian in Kosovo. Then, nearly all your historic sites have been blown up, your people have been burned out of their homes in coordinated raids, you’ve seen folks executed in the streets, monasteries that were shelters for Albanians and other Muslims during the Serbian assaults leveled by those same Albanians and other Muslims – all while the Blue Hats stood by and did little or nothing. The occasional unit that tried to act, well, it was usually pulled out lest casualties result. Historic Christian Kosovo has been destroyed in a deliberate, well planned, exquisitely executed campaign, and the UN ninnies did nothing to stop it. But hey, them’s only backward Orthodox; they don’t matter. So, yes, things are MUCH better there than they were 5-6 years ago…

  34. Thomas says:

    ‘Typical anti-UN attitude. What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.’
    Yes, unless you happen to be a Christian in Kosovo. Then, nearly all your historic sites have been blown up, your people have been burned out of their homes in coordinated raids, you’ve seen folks executed in the streets, monasteries that were shelters for Albanians and other Muslims during the Serbian assaults leveled by those same Albanians and other Muslims – all while the Blue Hats stood by and did little or nothing. The occasional unit that tried to act, well, it was usually pulled out lest casualties result. Historic Christian Kosovo has been destroyed in a deliberate, well planned, exquisitely executed campaign, and the UN ninnies did nothing to stop it. But hey, them’s only backward Orthodox; they don’t matter. So, yes, things are MUCH better there than they were 5-6 years ago…

  35. Thomas says:

    ‘Typical anti-UN attitude. What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.’
    Yes, unless you happen to be a Christian in Kosovo. Then, nearly all your historic sites have been blown up, your people have been burned out of their homes in coordinated raids, you’ve seen folks executed in the streets, monasteries that were shelters for Albanians and other Muslims during the Serbian assaults leveled by those same Albanians and other Muslims – all while the Blue Hats stood by and did little or nothing. The occasional unit that tried to act, well, it was usually pulled out lest casualties result. Historic Christian Kosovo has been destroyed in a deliberate, well planned, exquisitely executed campaign, and the UN ninnies did nothing to stop it. But hey, them’s only backward Orthodox; they don’t matter. So, yes, things are MUCH better there than they were 5-6 years ago…

  36. Thomas says:

    ‘Typical anti-UN attitude. What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.’
    Yes, unless you happen to be a Christian in Kosovo. Then, nearly all your historic sites have been blown up, your people have been burned out of their homes in coordinated raids, you’ve seen folks executed in the streets, monasteries that were shelters for Albanians and other Muslims during the Serbian assaults leveled by those same Albanians and other Muslims – all while the Blue Hats stood by and did little or nothing. The occasional unit that tried to act, well, it was usually pulled out lest casualties result. Historic Christian Kosovo has been destroyed in a deliberate, well planned, exquisitely executed campaign, and the UN ninnies did nothing to stop it. But hey, them’s only backward Orthodox; they don’t matter. So, yes, things are MUCH better there than they were 5-6 years ago…

  37. John H says:

    Thomas – I share your scepticism about the UN’s involvement in the former Yugoslavia, though I wasn’t aware of the problems faced by Christians there.
    Equally, however, the invasion of Iraq has caused terrible suffering for Iraqi Christians – and indeed, it is quite likely that one medium- to long-term effect of the invasion will be the final disappearance of Christianity from Iraq, after 2,000 years.
    I don’t think Iraq should be handed over to the UN. I think we need to accept that we have made a horrendous mess in Iraq, that it is going to take a very long time for the people of Iraq to sort that mess out one way or another, but that there is no choice in the end but to let the Iraqis work that out for themselves*, without foreign occupiers (in whatever colour helmets) on their soil.
    * though with a duty to help where asked, particularly in providing financing (or “reparations”, as they used to be called), assistance with infrastructure etc.

  38. John H says:

    Thomas – I share your scepticism about the UN’s involvement in the former Yugoslavia, though I wasn’t aware of the problems faced by Christians there.
    Equally, however, the invasion of Iraq has caused terrible suffering for Iraqi Christians – and indeed, it is quite likely that one medium- to long-term effect of the invasion will be the final disappearance of Christianity from Iraq, after 2,000 years.
    I don’t think Iraq should be handed over to the UN. I think we need to accept that we have made a horrendous mess in Iraq, that it is going to take a very long time for the people of Iraq to sort that mess out one way or another, but that there is no choice in the end but to let the Iraqis work that out for themselves*, without foreign occupiers (in whatever colour helmets) on their soil.
    * though with a duty to help where asked, particularly in providing financing (or “reparations”, as they used to be called), assistance with infrastructure etc.

  39. John H says:

    Thomas – I share your scepticism about the UN’s involvement in the former Yugoslavia, though I wasn’t aware of the problems faced by Christians there.
    Equally, however, the invasion of Iraq has caused terrible suffering for Iraqi Christians – and indeed, it is quite likely that one medium- to long-term effect of the invasion will be the final disappearance of Christianity from Iraq, after 2,000 years.
    I don’t think Iraq should be handed over to the UN. I think we need to accept that we have made a horrendous mess in Iraq, that it is going to take a very long time for the people of Iraq to sort that mess out one way or another, but that there is no choice in the end but to let the Iraqis work that out for themselves*, without foreign occupiers (in whatever colour helmets) on their soil.
    * though with a duty to help where asked, particularly in providing financing (or “reparations”, as they used to be called), assistance with infrastructure etc.

  40. John H says:

    Thomas – I share your scepticism about the UN’s involvement in the former Yugoslavia, though I wasn’t aware of the problems faced by Christians there.
    Equally, however, the invasion of Iraq has caused terrible suffering for Iraqi Christians – and indeed, it is quite likely that one medium- to long-term effect of the invasion will be the final disappearance of Christianity from Iraq, after 2,000 years.
    I don’t think Iraq should be handed over to the UN. I think we need to accept that we have made a horrendous mess in Iraq, that it is going to take a very long time for the people of Iraq to sort that mess out one way or another, but that there is no choice in the end but to let the Iraqis work that out for themselves*, without foreign occupiers (in whatever colour helmets) on their soil.
    * though with a duty to help where asked, particularly in providing financing (or “reparations”, as they used to be called), assistance with infrastructure etc.

  41. CPA says:

    The whole idea that the UN would ever take responsibility for Iraq is an infantile delusion.
    Let’s remember one thing: Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is in this to WIN. That is, is in this to establish purely Sunni Arab regime in Iraq. That is its stated aim. They are willing to fight “by any means necessary” to get that. Driving out the Americans is just a step in that process. The Sunni Arabs as a whole, as shown by their political actions in the recent constitutional negotiations, are pretty much on board with this aim. If the Americans leave, the war will just shift into higher gear, because Abu Musab Zarqawi will smell blood in the water and taste impending victory.
    So if the UN goes in the UN will have to fight al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. And if they want to improve the situation Iraq is in faster than Americans, they will have to fight them better, harder, and with higher casualties than the Americans. Anybody really think UN peacekeepers are up to that?
    Of course if you just want to get the war off your television screens, then yeah, “send in the UN” is a great slogan to pretend your not just throwing in the towel and allowing the 15% of Iraqis who are Sunnis to reestablish their centuries old tradition of ruthless minority rule (you know, the think that people didn’t like in South Africa).

  42. CPA says:

    The whole idea that the UN would ever take responsibility for Iraq is an infantile delusion.
    Let’s remember one thing: Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is in this to WIN. That is, is in this to establish purely Sunni Arab regime in Iraq. That is its stated aim. They are willing to fight “by any means necessary” to get that. Driving out the Americans is just a step in that process. The Sunni Arabs as a whole, as shown by their political actions in the recent constitutional negotiations, are pretty much on board with this aim. If the Americans leave, the war will just shift into higher gear, because Abu Musab Zarqawi will smell blood in the water and taste impending victory.
    So if the UN goes in the UN will have to fight al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. And if they want to improve the situation Iraq is in faster than Americans, they will have to fight them better, harder, and with higher casualties than the Americans. Anybody really think UN peacekeepers are up to that?
    Of course if you just want to get the war off your television screens, then yeah, “send in the UN” is a great slogan to pretend your not just throwing in the towel and allowing the 15% of Iraqis who are Sunnis to reestablish their centuries old tradition of ruthless minority rule (you know, the think that people didn’t like in South Africa).

  43. CPA says:

    The whole idea that the UN would ever take responsibility for Iraq is an infantile delusion.
    Let’s remember one thing: Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is in this to WIN. That is, is in this to establish purely Sunni Arab regime in Iraq. That is its stated aim. They are willing to fight “by any means necessary” to get that. Driving out the Americans is just a step in that process. The Sunni Arabs as a whole, as shown by their political actions in the recent constitutional negotiations, are pretty much on board with this aim. If the Americans leave, the war will just shift into higher gear, because Abu Musab Zarqawi will smell blood in the water and taste impending victory.
    So if the UN goes in the UN will have to fight al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. And if they want to improve the situation Iraq is in faster than Americans, they will have to fight them better, harder, and with higher casualties than the Americans. Anybody really think UN peacekeepers are up to that?
    Of course if you just want to get the war off your television screens, then yeah, “send in the UN” is a great slogan to pretend your not just throwing in the towel and allowing the 15% of Iraqis who are Sunnis to reestablish their centuries old tradition of ruthless minority rule (you know, the think that people didn’t like in South Africa).

  44. CPA says:

    The whole idea that the UN would ever take responsibility for Iraq is an infantile delusion.
    Let’s remember one thing: Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is in this to WIN. That is, is in this to establish purely Sunni Arab regime in Iraq. That is its stated aim. They are willing to fight “by any means necessary” to get that. Driving out the Americans is just a step in that process. The Sunni Arabs as a whole, as shown by their political actions in the recent constitutional negotiations, are pretty much on board with this aim. If the Americans leave, the war will just shift into higher gear, because Abu Musab Zarqawi will smell blood in the water and taste impending victory.
    So if the UN goes in the UN will have to fight al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. And if they want to improve the situation Iraq is in faster than Americans, they will have to fight them better, harder, and with higher casualties than the Americans. Anybody really think UN peacekeepers are up to that?
    Of course if you just want to get the war off your television screens, then yeah, “send in the UN” is a great slogan to pretend your not just throwing in the towel and allowing the 15% of Iraqis who are Sunnis to reestablish their centuries old tradition of ruthless minority rule (you know, the think that people didn’t like in South Africa).

  45. John H says:

    Chris – I agree that sending in the UN is not a solution. But how would you answer Simon Jenkins’ key point about “the white man’s burden” – namely, that there is an assumption that the US and UK are capable of sorting out the mess in Iraq, an assumption for which the evidence currently seems rather shaky?
    As for it being “Al Qaida” that is behind the insurgency, that seems undermined by the latest estimates which suggest that less than 10% of the 30,000 insurgents are foreign-born. Even if the 27,000+ Iraqi-born insurgents are now Al Qaida, then that only shows that the invasion has created large numbers of new Al Qaida sympathisers, since I doubt Al Qaida could lay claim to 27,000 supporters when Saddam was in power.
    I say all this as someone who supported the war, knowing the legal justification for it was flimsy, but supporting it on basically realpolitik grounds – the world was better off without Saddam, it was an opportunity to establish peace and democracy etc. Realpolitik is, of course, all very well – until it fails. Then all you’re left with is a probably illegal war that has created an appalling mess.

  46. John H says:

    Chris – I agree that sending in the UN is not a solution. But how would you answer Simon Jenkins’ key point about “the white man’s burden” – namely, that there is an assumption that the US and UK are capable of sorting out the mess in Iraq, an assumption for which the evidence currently seems rather shaky?
    As for it being “Al Qaida” that is behind the insurgency, that seems undermined by the latest estimates which suggest that less than 10% of the 30,000 insurgents are foreign-born. Even if the 27,000+ Iraqi-born insurgents are now Al Qaida, then that only shows that the invasion has created large numbers of new Al Qaida sympathisers, since I doubt Al Qaida could lay claim to 27,000 supporters when Saddam was in power.
    I say all this as someone who supported the war, knowing the legal justification for it was flimsy, but supporting it on basically realpolitik grounds – the world was better off without Saddam, it was an opportunity to establish peace and democracy etc. Realpolitik is, of course, all very well – until it fails. Then all you’re left with is a probably illegal war that has created an appalling mess.

  47. John H says:

    Chris – I agree that sending in the UN is not a solution. But how would you answer Simon Jenkins’ key point about “the white man’s burden” – namely, that there is an assumption that the US and UK are capable of sorting out the mess in Iraq, an assumption for which the evidence currently seems rather shaky?
    As for it being “Al Qaida” that is behind the insurgency, that seems undermined by the latest estimates which suggest that less than 10% of the 30,000 insurgents are foreign-born. Even if the 27,000+ Iraqi-born insurgents are now Al Qaida, then that only shows that the invasion has created large numbers of new Al Qaida sympathisers, since I doubt Al Qaida could lay claim to 27,000 supporters when Saddam was in power.
    I say all this as someone who supported the war, knowing the legal justification for it was flimsy, but supporting it on basically realpolitik grounds – the world was better off without Saddam, it was an opportunity to establish peace and democracy etc. Realpolitik is, of course, all very well – until it fails. Then all you’re left with is a probably illegal war that has created an appalling mess.

  48. John H says:

    Chris – I agree that sending in the UN is not a solution. But how would you answer Simon Jenkins’ key point about “the white man’s burden” – namely, that there is an assumption that the US and UK are capable of sorting out the mess in Iraq, an assumption for which the evidence currently seems rather shaky?
    As for it being “Al Qaida” that is behind the insurgency, that seems undermined by the latest estimates which suggest that less than 10% of the 30,000 insurgents are foreign-born. Even if the 27,000+ Iraqi-born insurgents are now Al Qaida, then that only shows that the invasion has created large numbers of new Al Qaida sympathisers, since I doubt Al Qaida could lay claim to 27,000 supporters when Saddam was in power.
    I say all this as someone who supported the war, knowing the legal justification for it was flimsy, but supporting it on basically realpolitik grounds – the world was better off without Saddam, it was an opportunity to establish peace and democracy etc. Realpolitik is, of course, all very well – until it fails. Then all you’re left with is a probably illegal war that has created an appalling mess.

  49. CPA says:

    John, too much to put into a comment box about this. Post at Three Hierarchies coming up some time in the next few days. To put it very briefly: If your framework is “Iraq is in chaos” then sure, foreigners sorting it out looks pretty hopeless and the violence seems very senseless.
    But if your framework is “Iraq is in a civil war with 3 players” then the prospect of foreigners helping a coalition of two players win over the third seems hardly implausible at all and the violence seems just what you’d expect.
    The only question is, are there serious reasons why we want our side to win the civil war. I would say, very much so, very serious reasons, ones of both our interest and those of Iraq.
    A subordinate point; in Basra the pro-Iranian Shi’ites seems to be on top. That’s tough sledding for the British there, but among Iraq’s Shi’ites as a whole that’s not really happening. And the one way to make sure the Shi’ites do all turn to Iran is to make Iran the only people they can turn to for real (i.e. shooting) help against the Sunni Arab death squads. To put it diferently: if Muqtada al-Sadr becomes the leader of Iraq’s Shi’ites, I’d be the first to say “Time to go!” But at every military and electoral confrontation so far, he’s proved to be a paper tiger.

  50. CPA says:

    John, too much to put into a comment box about this. Post at Three Hierarchies coming up some time in the next few days. To put it very briefly: If your framework is “Iraq is in chaos” then sure, foreigners sorting it out looks pretty hopeless and the violence seems very senseless.
    But if your framework is “Iraq is in a civil war with 3 players” then the prospect of foreigners helping a coalition of two players win over the third seems hardly implausible at all and the violence seems just what you’d expect.
    The only question is, are there serious reasons why we want our side to win the civil war. I would say, very much so, very serious reasons, ones of both our interest and those of Iraq.
    A subordinate point; in Basra the pro-Iranian Shi’ites seems to be on top. That’s tough sledding for the British there, but among Iraq’s Shi’ites as a whole that’s not really happening. And the one way to make sure the Shi’ites do all turn to Iran is to make Iran the only people they can turn to for real (i.e. shooting) help against the Sunni Arab death squads. To put it diferently: if Muqtada al-Sadr becomes the leader of Iraq’s Shi’ites, I’d be the first to say “Time to go!” But at every military and electoral confrontation so far, he’s proved to be a paper tiger.

  51. CPA says:

    John, too much to put into a comment box about this. Post at Three Hierarchies coming up some time in the next few days. To put it very briefly: If your framework is “Iraq is in chaos” then sure, foreigners sorting it out looks pretty hopeless and the violence seems very senseless.
    But if your framework is “Iraq is in a civil war with 3 players” then the prospect of foreigners helping a coalition of two players win over the third seems hardly implausible at all and the violence seems just what you’d expect.
    The only question is, are there serious reasons why we want our side to win the civil war. I would say, very much so, very serious reasons, ones of both our interest and those of Iraq.
    A subordinate point; in Basra the pro-Iranian Shi’ites seems to be on top. That’s tough sledding for the British there, but among Iraq’s Shi’ites as a whole that’s not really happening. And the one way to make sure the Shi’ites do all turn to Iran is to make Iran the only people they can turn to for real (i.e. shooting) help against the Sunni Arab death squads. To put it diferently: if Muqtada al-Sadr becomes the leader of Iraq’s Shi’ites, I’d be the first to say “Time to go!” But at every military and electoral confrontation so far, he’s proved to be a paper tiger.

  52. CPA says:

    John, too much to put into a comment box about this. Post at Three Hierarchies coming up some time in the next few days. To put it very briefly: If your framework is “Iraq is in chaos” then sure, foreigners sorting it out looks pretty hopeless and the violence seems very senseless.
    But if your framework is “Iraq is in a civil war with 3 players” then the prospect of foreigners helping a coalition of two players win over the third seems hardly implausible at all and the violence seems just what you’d expect.
    The only question is, are there serious reasons why we want our side to win the civil war. I would say, very much so, very serious reasons, ones of both our interest and those of Iraq.
    A subordinate point; in Basra the pro-Iranian Shi’ites seems to be on top. That’s tough sledding for the British there, but among Iraq’s Shi’ites as a whole that’s not really happening. And the one way to make sure the Shi’ites do all turn to Iran is to make Iran the only people they can turn to for real (i.e. shooting) help against the Sunni Arab death squads. To put it diferently: if Muqtada al-Sadr becomes the leader of Iraq’s Shi’ites, I’d be the first to say “Time to go!” But at every military and electoral confrontation so far, he’s proved to be a paper tiger.

  53. Josh S says:

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Iraq was a mess before we got there. As someone else has stated, it was a prison above ground and a mass grave below ground.
    So if the UN goes in the UN will have to fight al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
    Or they could hand over Iraq to Al Qaeda, which would be similar to what they’re letting the Muslims do in Kosovo. The ethnic cleansing marches on, now in reverse:
    http://www.kosovo.com/news/archive/2005/September_15/1.html
    The war didn’t create these factions. They already existed, and one of them kept the others in iron-fisted subjugation until the Americans busted things up.
    A can of worms is still full of worms before you open it, you know.

  54. Josh S says:

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Iraq was a mess before we got there. As someone else has stated, it was a prison above ground and a mass grave below ground.
    So if the UN goes in the UN will have to fight al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
    Or they could hand over Iraq to Al Qaeda, which would be similar to what they’re letting the Muslims do in Kosovo. The ethnic cleansing marches on, now in reverse:
    http://www.kosovo.com/news/archive/2005/September_15/1.html
    The war didn’t create these factions. They already existed, and one of them kept the others in iron-fisted subjugation until the Americans busted things up.
    A can of worms is still full of worms before you open it, you know.

  55. Josh S says:

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Iraq was a mess before we got there. As someone else has stated, it was a prison above ground and a mass grave below ground.
    So if the UN goes in the UN will have to fight al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
    Or they could hand over Iraq to Al Qaeda, which would be similar to what they’re letting the Muslims do in Kosovo. The ethnic cleansing marches on, now in reverse:
    http://www.kosovo.com/news/archive/2005/September_15/1.html
    The war didn’t create these factions. They already existed, and one of them kept the others in iron-fisted subjugation until the Americans busted things up.
    A can of worms is still full of worms before you open it, you know.

  56. Josh S says:

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Iraq was a mess before we got there. As someone else has stated, it was a prison above ground and a mass grave below ground.
    So if the UN goes in the UN will have to fight al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
    Or they could hand over Iraq to Al Qaeda, which would be similar to what they’re letting the Muslims do in Kosovo. The ethnic cleansing marches on, now in reverse:
    http://www.kosovo.com/news/archive/2005/September_15/1.html
    The war didn’t create these factions. They already existed, and one of them kept the others in iron-fisted subjugation until the Americans busted things up.
    A can of worms is still full of worms before you open it, you know.

  57. Josh S says:

    Personally, I think we should start equipping Iraqis to fight their own civil war and get out of there. I don’t believe the war is winnable until every last one of the aggressors is stabbed in the spine and has his head mounted on a stake on the road leading to Baghdad, and we Americans just aren’t the sort of folk who can get away with doing that.

  58. Josh S says:

    Personally, I think we should start equipping Iraqis to fight their own civil war and get out of there. I don’t believe the war is winnable until every last one of the aggressors is stabbed in the spine and has his head mounted on a stake on the road leading to Baghdad, and we Americans just aren’t the sort of folk who can get away with doing that.

  59. Josh S says:

    Personally, I think we should start equipping Iraqis to fight their own civil war and get out of there. I don’t believe the war is winnable until every last one of the aggressors is stabbed in the spine and has his head mounted on a stake on the road leading to Baghdad, and we Americans just aren’t the sort of folk who can get away with doing that.

  60. Josh S says:

    Personally, I think we should start equipping Iraqis to fight their own civil war and get out of there. I don’t believe the war is winnable until every last one of the aggressors is stabbed in the spine and has his head mounted on a stake on the road leading to Baghdad, and we Americans just aren’t the sort of folk who can get away with doing that.

  61. Craig says:

    but that there is no choice in the end but to let the Iraqis work that out for themselves, without foreign occupiers (in whatever colour helmets) on their soil.
    Do you really think withdrawing 150,000 western troops from the country will help the situation?
    A few people have drawn a parrallel between the current situation in Iraq and post-war Germany (which was apparently a real mess for about 10 years after surrender).
    Is it really impossible to believe that, in 10 years time, Iraq might be a stable, functioning democracy, with the current troubles seen as “birth pains”?

  62. Craig says:

    but that there is no choice in the end but to let the Iraqis work that out for themselves, without foreign occupiers (in whatever colour helmets) on their soil.
    Do you really think withdrawing 150,000 western troops from the country will help the situation?
    A few people have drawn a parrallel between the current situation in Iraq and post-war Germany (which was apparently a real mess for about 10 years after surrender).
    Is it really impossible to believe that, in 10 years time, Iraq might be a stable, functioning democracy, with the current troubles seen as “birth pains”?

  63. Craig says:

    but that there is no choice in the end but to let the Iraqis work that out for themselves, without foreign occupiers (in whatever colour helmets) on their soil.
    Do you really think withdrawing 150,000 western troops from the country will help the situation?
    A few people have drawn a parrallel between the current situation in Iraq and post-war Germany (which was apparently a real mess for about 10 years after surrender).
    Is it really impossible to believe that, in 10 years time, Iraq might be a stable, functioning democracy, with the current troubles seen as “birth pains”?

  64. Craig says:

    but that there is no choice in the end but to let the Iraqis work that out for themselves, without foreign occupiers (in whatever colour helmets) on their soil.
    Do you really think withdrawing 150,000 western troops from the country will help the situation?
    A few people have drawn a parrallel between the current situation in Iraq and post-war Germany (which was apparently a real mess for about 10 years after surrender).
    Is it really impossible to believe that, in 10 years time, Iraq might be a stable, functioning democracy, with the current troubles seen as “birth pains”?

  65. Rick Ritchie says:

    But how would you answer Simon Jenkins’ key point about “the white man’s burden” – namely, that there is an assumption that the US and UK are capable of sorting out the mess in Iraq, an assumption for which the evidence currently seems rather shaky?
    What counts as evidence? Just recent history in Iraq? There is a sense in which I can say that we may not be able to sort this out. So long as we recognize that the parties who have to do the sorting are also in a media war the whole time. No, they probably cannot wage a war nice enough to please their parties and fix Iraq quickly. When you go into something like this, you need to know this.
    Our previous track record of sorting things out includes Germany and Japan. But it was clear then how much was at stake. Where we have the will to do it, it can be done. The question is whether we do or should have the will to do this.
    The public rationale for the war was pretty bad. My only question is whether we know the real one. Only time will tell.

  66. Rick Ritchie says:

    But how would you answer Simon Jenkins’ key point about “the white man’s burden” – namely, that there is an assumption that the US and UK are capable of sorting out the mess in Iraq, an assumption for which the evidence currently seems rather shaky?
    What counts as evidence? Just recent history in Iraq? There is a sense in which I can say that we may not be able to sort this out. So long as we recognize that the parties who have to do the sorting are also in a media war the whole time. No, they probably cannot wage a war nice enough to please their parties and fix Iraq quickly. When you go into something like this, you need to know this.
    Our previous track record of sorting things out includes Germany and Japan. But it was clear then how much was at stake. Where we have the will to do it, it can be done. The question is whether we do or should have the will to do this.
    The public rationale for the war was pretty bad. My only question is whether we know the real one. Only time will tell.

  67. Rick Ritchie says:

    But how would you answer Simon Jenkins’ key point about “the white man’s burden” – namely, that there is an assumption that the US and UK are capable of sorting out the mess in Iraq, an assumption for which the evidence currently seems rather shaky?
    What counts as evidence? Just recent history in Iraq? There is a sense in which I can say that we may not be able to sort this out. So long as we recognize that the parties who have to do the sorting are also in a media war the whole time. No, they probably cannot wage a war nice enough to please their parties and fix Iraq quickly. When you go into something like this, you need to know this.
    Our previous track record of sorting things out includes Germany and Japan. But it was clear then how much was at stake. Where we have the will to do it, it can be done. The question is whether we do or should have the will to do this.
    The public rationale for the war was pretty bad. My only question is whether we know the real one. Only time will tell.

  68. Rick Ritchie says:

    But how would you answer Simon Jenkins’ key point about “the white man’s burden” – namely, that there is an assumption that the US and UK are capable of sorting out the mess in Iraq, an assumption for which the evidence currently seems rather shaky?
    What counts as evidence? Just recent history in Iraq? There is a sense in which I can say that we may not be able to sort this out. So long as we recognize that the parties who have to do the sorting are also in a media war the whole time. No, they probably cannot wage a war nice enough to please their parties and fix Iraq quickly. When you go into something like this, you need to know this.
    Our previous track record of sorting things out includes Germany and Japan. But it was clear then how much was at stake. Where we have the will to do it, it can be done. The question is whether we do or should have the will to do this.
    The public rationale for the war was pretty bad. My only question is whether we know the real one. Only time will tell.

  69. Tom R says:

    > “What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.”
    Only after the Americans stepped in and began bombing the Serbs, after the Europeans sat wringing their hands. And the UN? Nowhere to be seen, because Russia would veto any move against their Orthodox co-religionists in the Balkans.

  70. Tom R says:

    > “What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.”
    Only after the Americans stepped in and began bombing the Serbs, after the Europeans sat wringing their hands. And the UN? Nowhere to be seen, because Russia would veto any move against their Orthodox co-religionists in the Balkans.

  71. Tom R says:

    > “What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.”
    Only after the Americans stepped in and began bombing the Serbs, after the Europeans sat wringing their hands. And the UN? Nowhere to be seen, because Russia would veto any move against their Orthodox co-religionists in the Balkans.

  72. Tom R says:

    > “What do you think is happening in the former Yugoslavia? Is it full of US troops? No. It’s full of UN troops, and conditions there are much better than what they were 5-6 years ago.”
    Only after the Americans stepped in and began bombing the Serbs, after the Europeans sat wringing their hands. And the UN? Nowhere to be seen, because Russia would veto any move against their Orthodox co-religionists in the Balkans.

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