Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Officials Rethink Hopes for Iraq Democracy

CNN reported today that US officials have reconsidered plans to pursue democracy in Iraq, and would instead be satisfied with an effective government that can provide services and security to its people. (Wait a minute, didn't they have that 4 years ago - minus all the terrorists?)

MG Benjamin Mixon stated, "Democracy is merely an option, that Iraqis are free to choose or reject", and BG John "Mick" Bednarek said, "Democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future". (WHAT!!!???)

Forgive my cynicism, but these are things that many advisers told President Bush several years ago, but were summarily dismissed as pessimistic and unpatriotic forecasts. It was very telling indeed when the President made the comment that after the "liberation" of Iraq "We will be welcomed with open arms", as most who knew anything about Iraqi culture knew he was either deceived or completely ignorant of typical Middle Eastern culture which had been steeped in authoritarian regimes for millennia and would not be converted to a democratic state within a period of 2 to 3 years. (Ignorance, not in a pejorative sense, was the more likely option given that at the beginning of his first term, he knew neither the name of Canada's PM or of Mexico's President - the only two foreign countries that border the United States, one of which bordered his home state of Texas for at least as long as he was Governor).

This has been a major "Charlie Foxtrot" as we lovingly refer to it in the Army. The only hope is not to cut and run and hope for the best, but to do what it takes to fix the problem. As GEN/SEC Colin Powell said, "If you break it, you've got to fix it". This will mean a much larger surge, perseverance, commitment, and sacrifice on the part of all Americans, not just the 1% who have served or are currently serving in the US Military. If we maintain a shortsighted view of what's best in the next year or two, we will regret it in the long run. Like it or not, the American public has an aversion to casualties and we have history of retreating when it becomes politically unpopular to stay the course. (Remember Vietnam, Beirut, Somalia?) Our enemies know this and take advantage of it. Now we want to reinforce this belief?

In addition, we fight wars in the media and are swayed by public (non-warrior) perception instead of freeing up our commanders and soldiers to do what needs to be done in war - and that is fiercely engage and kill the enemy and destroy their will to fight. Instead they are destroying ours.

If a draft is necessary, so be it. What people fail to realize is that we are fighting for our survival. China and Russia are on the sidelines watching, waiting, building, networking, strengthening - all while we are trying to decide how fast we want to run away and lick our wounds. Forgive my language, but we have done our soldiers a disservice as our politicians have fought this war half-assed with one foot on and one foot off the battlefield.

We have created a monster. The only way to defeat it is to win this war decisively, not run away, retreat, ignore it, and hope it goes away. Turn this over to the Generals, don't make them answer to politicians, make everyone take ownership (as the end result will certainly affect everyone), get out of the way, and let the warfighters do what they do best - FIGHT!!!

1 comment:

Ned Williams said...

First red flag--the link to CNN, but the substance of the article is intriguing . . . by "democracy" I think our generals mean a gov't selected by the voters, but as we demonstrated after this invasion and all (?) previous invasions, you have to have something approaching autocracy for a time--until there is social, military, economic, civil, etc. etc. stability. As one of the officials stated in the article, "any country with 160,000 foreigners fighting for it sacrifices some sovereignty." And the same could be said for democracy, I guess.

Democracy is certainly a worthwhile objective, but not all autocratic gov'ts are created equal. Though Paul Bremer may have made some mistakes in running Iraq, I didn't fear that he was going to exploit Iraqis or coddle Jihadists or secretly fund a nuclear program.

And regarding "functioning" and "security" prior to our invasion, I think CNN contacts and Michael Moore "documentaries" aren't the most credible sources on the subject.

As far as options from a "realistic" foreign policy perspective, if Iraq was a threat (to our security) that eventually needed to be dealt with what were our other options than to "depose" him ourselves?