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I have been influenced by Gore Vidal's arguments that the US agenda has been about power and money via wars and conflicts, since the end of WWII...and almost all US politicians are in on that gravy train. Not all, but most...and a lot of Dems too.

But...the Repubs have been waiting for some kind of event, in which they could take advantage (didn't Bush himself refer to 9-11 and the recessation as being part of a "perfect storm"?)...they were ready to pounce, and the Dems weren't prepared...and pretty much still aren't. The Dems are on the defensive, which makes me sad, as a lifelong Dem voter.

As far as Iraq, the US "punched the tarbaby" on that one. In the current issue of the The Nation there is a great discussion by 4 moderate to progressive Middle East experts about where we are and what to do about it now (including possible consequences) by Cole, Cobban, Rosen and Telhami. There is no consensus, and Cole is rather emphatic about the situation, in this quote at the end of the above referenced article:

The United States cannot resolve the problems in Iraq militarily, and its policies have made things progressively worse. The Iraqi government has no military and won't have an effective one for five to ten years. If the United States simply withdrew, Iraq might well fall into massive civil war. That war would, moreover, likely draw in the Turks, Iranians and Saudis. Consequent guerrilla sabotage of Iranian and Saudi petroleum production is not impossible and would risk deeply harming the world economy, especially the poor in the global South. The Iraq situation needs to be effectively internationalized, preferably by giving it a United Nations military command, like that in Cambodia in the early 1990s. Obviously, that step will not be taken by the Bush Administration, and it will not be easy to accomplish under any circumstances, given how badly the Administration has alienated the international community and what a mess it has made of Iraq. In the absence of internationalization, and given the great likelihood that "Iraqization" will fail miserably in the near to medium term, America faces the choice of being stuck in Iraq for many years or risking a destabilization of the Middle East and of the world energy economy.

Myself, I never thought we should go to Iraq, and want the troops home asap. But, you have to consider what Cole says. The US screwed the pooch, and the US people may be paying for this for a long time.

The Dems need to figure out who they are and say it with conviction...some are starting to, and the people will follow those leaders. They need to get it together soon though...or more of the same will be going on.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed Aug 17th, 2005 at 12:34:42 PM EST
Cole was in for considerable criticism for his above standpoint. (Admirably, he quoted some on his own blog - for example, this one.) To summarise the criticisms, there are three basic problems with his argument:

  1. he assumes as solution just what he discounted: if the US gets everything wrong, and follows its own misguided interests in Iraq, how would it not get the prevention of civil war (by way of giving over to the UN or by itself) wrong? In fact, upon closer inspection, it already got that wrong: the civil war is already ongoing, and the US and British soldiers on the ground don't do much to limit it - they are busy fighting opposition to their own presence. (Kurdish expansion, Sunni Muslim terrorism, Sadrist takeover in Amarah, inter-Shi'a war in Basrah, and so on.)

  2. The potential deeper disaster after eventual pullout can't be averted, but the policies that "have made things progressively worse" can make this unavoidable deeper disaster worse, too. (Whenever you hear about strenghtening local forces, think of that: these moves end up pushing that process through the Kurdish and Shi'a sides, and add firepower to the future fighters in it.)

  3. The UN route he suggests is unrealistic, for several reasons. One, he is too optimistic about various states' willingness to enter the Iraqi mess. (Europe, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and some others each would have their domestic problems with that.) Second, even if he hadn't, he underestimates the number of troops these states could realistically send, vs the need in the present situation (not 100,000, not 250,000, but one million). Three, even would that not be, he ignores the question of whether these troops are well enough armed and well enough trained for such a difficult mission. Fourth, even if that wouldn't be the case, he underestimates Iraqi's rejection of any foreign occupation, despite polls and other evidence he himself quotes. (In fact, fifth, he suggests continued US presence - as air support; now that would not be something to convince Iraqis that the UN acts independently.)

This is not Cambodia in the nineties, not battle-weary and widely hated followers of a deposed dictator entering a peace accord letting the UN in, but a hot new conflict that includes foreign occupation and a large number of militias (not just Sunni Arab ones, and not just anti-US ones) with strong local support.

Finally, along with the scholar in the linked critique, I deeply resent the oil argument. (BTW, if asdf is reading: Cole would be an example for your 'honest American crazyness', however, the average American supporter on the Iraq war is in deep denial and points to WMD, freedom, democracy and whatnot.) If political upheaval elsewhere is so bad for our economy, we should lower our oil imports, hence our consumption, rather than go killing for someone else's property.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Aug 22nd, 2005 at 04:33:28 PM EST
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