Sunday, March 19, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Three years since the "liberation" of Iraq, there's one thing which can't be disputed. The mission is not accomplished. Only a fool would claim that it is.

The debate today is whether there is a civil war in Iraq. Iyad Allawi has said that there is. There's no doubt that his statement partly reflects the current jockeying for position in the negotiations for control of government posts. He's trying to increase pressure on the UIA leaders by claiming that they are failing to keep control of the country. And he's certainly right to some extent. If he was not, it'd be a non-starter as a political strategy. Whether there's a full scale civil war is still not clear.

Allawi's party got hammered at the election and there's really no democratic justification for him to play any role in the new government. For what it's worth, I suspect the situation might be better if his party was involved and the US ambassador's attempts to get him into the government are probably a sensible move. It's probably the least worst option and might just help to stabilise the country. I, of course, didn't invade the country to bring democracy to the Iraqi people so I can advocate this complete abandonment of democratic process without sounding like an appalling hypocrite. Others do not have that luxury.

John Reid, for example, sounds like a vile, corrupt, immoral hypocritical liar. He is disgusting. Anyone who criticises his government is a supporter of terrorism? And he claims to be the one defending free speech and the democratic process. If there was any justice, this would be a resigning matter. Words fail me. It's utterly beyond the pale.

In the real world, let's be clear about what is currently happening in Iraq. We (actually mostly Khalilzad, the US ambassador) are trying to promote a national unity government. This is, as I said, probably the best thing we could do at this point. And it is an attempt to circumvent the election result; an overwhelming majority fo Iraqis who voted did not choose to vote for a national unity government. The Iraqi National List, which campaigned for just such a government, received 8% of the votes cast. The three parties with the largest share of the vote, UIA (Shia) - 41.2%, DPAK (Kurdish) - 21.7%, and the IAF (Sunni) - 15.1%, are sectarian to their very cores.

I've used facts, like the actual election result, to explain the reality of the situation. Reid, and others like him, feel no need to sink to the level of the facts. Hyperbole, misleading claims, and downright despicable accusation are all they need. Yay for democracy!

The future for Iraq is a grave concern. A week or so after the Samarra shrine attack, Khalilzad said the country would be extremely vulnerable to another similar attack. President Talabani said pretty much exactly the same today. Both men must be aware, as we all are, that similar attacks are being planned at this very moment. It is to be hoped that they do not succeed. At the moment, there doesn't seem to much to pin that hope on.

Talabani says he expects a new government to be formed within two to four weeks. That new government is going to inherit an enormous mess. The government will be dominated by religious Shiites in coalition with the Kurds as before. It'll probably contain some Sunni Islamists from the IAF and may yet contain Allawi too. It will certainly not be the panacea for the ills of the country that Reid and co. seem to believe.

Sadly, it's hard to see such a government holding together if the violence continues. Another attack like the one at Samarra is quite likely to rip apart any coalition government which forms. Iraq desperately need a period of calm in which the government can bed in and establish it's authority. Without that, the new government is unlikely to succeed.

In low intensity conflict and sectarian instability, where detailed information is almost impossible to aquire, the direction of travel is the one key indicator available to outside observers. Is Iraq closer to a possible civil war today that it was a year ago? An objective analysis must surely lead to a conclusion that it is. In fact, the situation has clearly been travelling in the wrong direction for much, if not all, of the occupation.

That's the reality. John Reid, like a particularly stubborn male driver, wants to criticise people who try to flag down his car as he drives it at full speed towards a broken bridge. "Wrong direction? Stop? Don't talk rubb... shiiiiiit". Except it won't be Reid in the falling car. It'll be the people of Iraq.

Thanks to Robert for pointing out an interesting article on the media coverage of the "Mission Accomplished" period. If I may paraphrase the words of Joe Scarborough, "I'm waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most stupid, arrogant, ill informed, excuses for journalists".

Astonishingly, Scarborough, who publically declared that it was all over in April 2003, and called for those who disagreed with his fantasies to apologise, still writes about Iraq as if he knows what he's talking about. He's even got the nerve to call others stupid. Remarkable. "Don't believe everything you see on TV" is good advice. "Don't believe anything you see Scarborough say on TV" is a practical application.

In other news, Paul Eaton, a retired Army major General who'd been in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004, has some words on Donald Rumsfeld.
In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.

Tags: , ,

No comments: