Thursday, September 29, 2005

Out of the Quagmire

How many people have been killed so far today in Iraq? I think it's clear to most people that Iraq has become the stain on the conscience of the Blair (that's assuming he has one at all). His pitiful bleatings about UN mandates, moral authority and showing resolve are an embarrasment to this country. It's clear that Blair believes that to be a valuable ally is to show blind devotional loyalty and obedience at all times. As any normal person will tell you, that is not the behaviour of a friend and ally but that of a syphophantic yes man. Such behaviour is about as useful as an individual opinion at a Labour Party conference. If one of my friends is acting stupidly, I don't say "well done mate, good stuff, keep it up". No, what I say is "stop acting like a muppet and sort yourself out". And I'd hope my friends would do the same for me. I suspect Blair doesn't understand this because he doesn't actually have any frends.

So, what would an actually useful ally be telling the US government about the situation in Iraq? Well, first here's what I think is going to happen if things stay as they are. The insurgency/terrorism is going to continue unabated. It may worsten. The US military will start a staged withdrawal starting in the spring or summer of next year. This will be in response to the Iraqi government stating that their security services are now better equipped to fight the insurgency. This is unlikely to be influenced much by the actual state of the Iraqi security services or the insurgency. It will be influenced by the need to have good news to sell in the campaign for the US elections in November. The UK government will adopt the same strategy arguing that it is a purely strategic decision based on events on the ground. This will be a lie. The insurgency will morph into full scale civil war after the pullout. Iraq will disintegrate and this will cause increased instability in the surrounding countries. Iraq will become a haven for terrorist groups. And then what are we going to do, invade again? No, I'd say airstrikes are most likely and lots of them. It'll be just like 2002 all over again, except that a lot of people have been killed and the situation is much worse.

It's not a pretty picture but it's looking more and more likely as each day passes. So what could the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom be doing if he wasn't such a useless tool? Here are some suggestions for policies I think the "coalition" should adopt.

It is hugely important that we do not allow the referendum on the constitution to be fudged. If there is a legitimate no vote from the referendum this must be accepted, no matter if it's politically embarrasing for our governments. If the constitution proceeds on a fraudulent yes vote this will only spread the belief that the coalition are lying hypocrites. The insurgency is likely to get stronger as a result, not weaker. So, if there's no vote, start at the beginning and try again.

I also think we need to unleash Super Marshall Plan Extra Gold Plus on the Iraqi economy. Start with the hospitals. When an Iraqi doctor says "I could really use one of those machines which goes ping beeeep", Donald Rumsfeld should be wheeling one in before the doctor has finished his sentence. Every available doctor at the disposal of the "coalition" should be working to help make Iraqi hospitals some of the best in the world. A huge effort to get electricity and water supplies restored should be undertaken. Employ people from the areas affected by the shortages for every possible position from technical personel to labourers to security guards. Do it visibly and with enthusiasm and determination. I want to see huge pots of money being visibly directed towards making life better for ordinary Iraqis.

And then there are the US and UK troops in Iraq. I don't believe that an immediate pullout is a good idea. I'd be concerned that it would just speed up the disintegration described above. I do believe that the coalition troops are fuelling the insurgency but I also believe their presence limits the likelyhood of open warfare and all out civil war. So, I'd recommend that we withdraw these forces from all population centres and have them consigned to barracks. The only other place they should be is guarding electricity plants and the like. There they should stay unless open warfare does break out between factions. The bases will probably come under attack and they should defend these bases vigourously. They should not seek to engage anyone however. In the short run this may not reduce the number of insurgent attacks in civilian areas but I believe it will do over time. We should also be actively trying to persuade governments from other nations to send peacekeeping troops to replace coalition forces.

We should also be inviting other nations to contribute to the management of Iraq. Decisions which are currently taken in Washington should be internationalised. I don't wish to disparage the current Iraqi government but I know, and you know, and the insurgent know that most of the important decisions are still made by the Whitehouse. Those decisions should be the responsibility of the Iraqi government in collaboration with a group of advisors from the international community.

These are suggestions which I think might have some useful effect. I don't honestly know if the adpotion of these suggestions would prevent the scenario described above. It might already be too late to do anything to prevent it. I believe that it must be better to try than to continue to follow a policy which is so clearly failing.

As I was writing this post a desktop alert highlighted this story. How many more?

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