Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rubin sums it up...

I really liked this following piece by AEI's Michael Rubin in USA Today's blog; he says so much with so little:

Opposing view: Right war, botched occupation

Iraq was undercut by naive faith, not in democracy but in diplomacy.

By Michael Rubin

As U.S. troops entered Iraq, President Bush promised freedom and democracy. But rather than establish a stable democracy, today terrorists and militias tear the country apart. After billions spent and the sacrifice of almost 3,000 U.S. troops, it is right to ask whether democracy in Iraq was not a fool's dream.

It was not.

President Truman faced similar questions about Korea. Critics accused him of embroiling America in open-ended war, ignoring his generals and losing touch with reality. They said democracy was alien to Korean culture. Time proved them wrong. Any juxtaposition of nuclear North Korea with democratic South Korea shows the value of Truman's policy.

Bush was right to liberate Iraq. Saddam Hussein had started two wars, used chemical weapons and subsidized suicide bombers. He claimed to have weapons of mass destruction. Sanctions had collapsed; containment failed.

With military action inevitable, the White House was right to pursue democracy. Cynical realism created Saddam. Iraqis who fled their country, meanwhile, had no problem accepting democracy; Iraq's problem was both its rule of law and its dictator's unaccountability.

What went wrong? Iraq's transformation was undercut by naive faith, not in democracy but rather in diplomacy. Instead of securing Iraq's borders, the Bush administration accepted Syrian and Iranian pledges of non-interference. They believed the canard that Iraq's neighbors sought a stable, secure Iraq. Both countries exploited U.S. trust.

Then, to win United Nations support, the White House defined itself as an occupying power. Overnight, liberation became occupation, and Iraqi democrats became collaborators. To appease Paris and Berlin, the Bush administration justified insurgent rhetoric.

Iraqis embraced democracy, but the wrong kind. U.N. experts sold the White House an election system based on party slates rather than on districts. Any system in which politicians are more accountable to party leaders than constituents, though, encourages ethnic nationalism and sectarian populism. Add militias to the mix, and the result is explosive.

Iraqis greeted U.S. troops as liberators, but the Bush administration fumbled the occupation. Blaming democracy does not address the cause of strife; rather, it absolves policymakers for poor decisions and implementation. Too much is at stake, not only for Iraq but also for U.S. national security, if policymakers learn the wrong lessons.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.


Anonymous lester said...

any idea that could be so easily sabatoged obviously wasn't very good to begin with. would you drive a car that is great except that it can be blown over by a small draft?

of course, that's accepting his premise, which no one does. the ,Syrians ARE guarding their border, but there's no guards on the Iraqi side. and I'd hardly call Bush's bellicose "all options are on the table" rhetoric regarding Iran even pre-ahmadenjad as diplomatic. to a dominatrix maybe.

12:13 PM, November 28, 2006

Blogger madtom said...

OK here is were you both get it wrong. It was not a faith in diplomacy?? We are talking about Bush here, what faith in Diplomacy. Bush knew what he was doing, he campaigned on a strategy of fight them there, not here. Everyone knew what he meant. And for those that doubt it just go find any speech he gave the week before his 04 reelection.

He mistake was a blind faith in a military that could do it all. He left those boarders open on purpose to invite the terrorist in. A roach motel.

He did it on purpose we all know it, we were all there complaining or cheering the great Bush strategy.

1:59 PM, November 28, 2006

Blogger Tequila said...

Don't know what you're thinking when you endorse this crap. Bush's problem was trusting Syria & Iran too much? No, we left the borders open because we don't have the troops to secure them, and we still don't. Hell, we can't even secure Baghdad, much less the borders.

Plus I had no idea that Iraqis were so influenced by what the U.N. calls the U.S. Yeah, that's what got the insurgency support: the White House acknowledged it was an occupying force. Wouldn't have anything to do with lack of employment, dissolving of the Army, or things like the 82nd Airborne firing on a crowd in Fallujah in 2003.

1:38 AM, November 29, 2006

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