September 02, 2003
POSTWAR IRAQ....It seems like every few days for the past
month I've heard about yet another administration proposal to "finally"
get the UN involved in Iraq. The latest one was announced today, and this time it's apparently being driven by the military:
senior administration official said that Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had recently begun lobbying key
members of the administration to support a U.N. resolution. The official
added that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have become "much more interested
in this than before," because they know a new resolution is necessary
for them to attract new peacekeeping forces to Iraq.
Yeah, I'll bet they're more interested than before. I wonder why?
I suppose this is good news, since at some point even the
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld axis has to listen to the commanders on the ground
when they tell them that things aren't going so well. The problem is
that it's hard to feel optimistic about the success of this initiative.
After the events and bad blood of the past year, there's going to be a
ton of resistance to getting the UN involved from several key countries —
some justified and some just out of pique. It's not easy to see a
compromise that will satisfy both the international community's desire
for some level of genuine control and the Bush administration's fetish
for total control.
And while we're on the subject of postwar Iraq, if you want to know why we were so badly prepared as events unfolded, check out Jason Vest's article in The American Prospect from last week:
images of the bombed United Nations headquarters in Baghdad appeared on
television last week, my thoughts turned to a conversation I had with a
very senior national-security official (a political appointee with no
military experience, not a career bureaucrat) prior to the invasion of
Iraq. He earnestly told me that after Saddam Hussein's fall, Americans
would be welcomed in Iraq, and not with a fleeting shower of goodwill
but with a "deluge" of "rose water and flowers" that would last in
perpetuity. Ahmad Chalabi and American advisers would set up shop to
oversee a transition spearheaded by scores of returning Iraqi exiles,
who would transform Iraq into a profitable, oil-pumping society. After
all, the official said, this wasn't Afghanistan, where there were lots
of religious and tribal differences among the local populations. We
wouldn't need to stay long, and we certainly wouldn't need the United
Nations -- which, as far as this official and his compatriots were
concerned, could go screw itself. The United States could handle it all.
Within a year, he said, Iraq would be a beacon of democracy and
stability in the Middle East.
Read the whole thing,
which explains how the army wrote a report last October that predicted
pretty much everything that ended up happening in postwar Iraq, and how
the administration's hawks simply scorned and ignored it. Rose water
and flowers indeed.
Posted by Kevin Drum at September 2, 2003 08:39 PM
See? See? The military is just objectively pro- ... something.
Not to totally steer the topic of conversation away from the 483th
post on the failure of post-war predictions and planning-- but if Iraq
was going to be a cakewalk compared to Afghanistan (as posited by the
nameless security official), why are there only 10,000 troops in
Well, it's best not to think such thoughts. After all, what does "resurgent" really mean?
I think that we should keep up the pressure on the cheese-eating
surrender monkeys and the worthless U.N. We've got them on the ropes,
and now is not the time to get squishy.
I'm not sure bringing in the UN will help anymore. We may look back
at this period and decide that we should have just set elections and got
out. I don't think it's going to get better
Who does 'very senior national-security official' translate to other than Rice and Rumsfeld in journalistese?
It's possible I'm a tad biased, but...it'll be a cold day in hell
before George Bush changes his mind on Iraq. And even then, he'll only
do it if Karl Rove has been painting pictures of rampaging Democrats
taking control of the entire country in 2004. And even then, only if he
has a way out where he can believe he wasn't wrong in the first place.
Not because Bush can't admit error (although he's always seemed a
prideful man) but because Bush posses a righteous certainty that his
course is the correct one....and his most trusted advisors share that
certainty. Facts, data, expert opinion.....if they disagree with the
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld view of Iraq (or damn near anything, really) they
are, by definition, wrong.
And why this wasn't completely obvious before the war to everyone will apparently forever remain a mystery to me.
"...will apparently forever remain a mystery to me."
You're darned right it will, since Bush signed that Exec. Order back
in Nov. 2001 putting presidential archives off-limits for 50 years or
so. At the time I thought he was doing that so his Dad's and Reagan's
role in Iran-Contra would be inaccessible, but it sure is turning out to
be convenient for this period as well.
a "deluge" of "rose water and flowers"
The triumph of faith-based foreign policy. We also can see the fruits
of a faith-based economic policy. We may have to wait a few years to
see the full effects of faith-based environmental policy, but the early
returns are not encouraging...
nbarnes, my take is that it could also be wolfowitz or perle, and
it's not impossible to imagine feith. that about exhausts the list,
though, and certainly any one of these characters could have held the
How to make friends
"Washington - The United States on Tuesday sneered at plans by four
European countries to create an autonomous European military command
headquarters near Brussels separate from Nato, referring to the idea's
proponents as "chocolate makers".
In unusually blunt language that drew surprised gasps from reporters,
State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher scoffed at Belgium,
France, Germany and Luxembourg for continuing to support the proposal
that they first introduced at a mini-summit in April.
He described the April meeting as one between "four countries that
got together and had a little bitty summit" and then referred to them
collectively as "the chocolate makers". "
Absolutely NO coverage in CNN, NYT, the Post
What are you quoting from?
'Chocolate makers'? Goodness, that's obscene. Did that man forget,
for a moment, that they're dealing with international diplomacy and
*not* domestic political discourse? Those comments are quite
inappropriate, especially given that the US tends to have a hissy-fit
when others make remarks that could be construed as insulting (the 'Bush
Moron!' saga springs to mind. I very much doubt you'll see a similar
Beyond that, it's also disappointing to see such laziness on the part
of the State Department. Part of the charm of international diplomacy
is the ability to sound urbane and non-combative when you're really
hauling someone over the coals.
thinks the thieves may at last have begun to fall out. The generals --
Abizaid and Myers, as well as Pace -- want to increase and
internationalize the occupation force, and so have begun a
Powell-assisted end run around Rumsfeld, who is adamantly against
putting more boots (U.S. or otherwise) on the ground. Meanwhile, at
least some "neocons" (my quotation marks, since to me it's not clear
whether Marshall means inside neocons like Wolfowitz and Feith, or
outside neocons like Kristol, or both) also want a larger force, but of
U.S. troops only, so they're pushing for a larger army, a course which
is anathema to Rumsfeld -- and a budget-buster.
Pass the popcorn, please.
Boucher had been my favorite member of this administration: urbane
and non-combative usually pretty much defines him. I have to think this
was carefully scripted and perhaps a move by State to show their macho
credentials to Bush and the Rumsfeld faction. IMO it's a bad, stupid,
and offensive misjudgement. I'll settle for those three adjectives.
Can Leadership Get Any Worse?
We are finally going to the U.N., and to countries such as France and
Germany, to request assistance and share the burden of Iraq. Fairly.
One wonders why this hasn't been done earlier.
"The effort to secure international assistance is "a tacit
admission that we don't have the forces there to get the job done," Sen.
John McCain, R-Ariz., said Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"If we don't turn things around in the next few months we are facing a
very serious long-term, problem.""
Why do I characterize this as a failure of leadership? Simple. If
Senator McCain's statement is to be taken at face value, we now seem to
be negotiating in a position of weakness. This is a great
turnabout from the mood and stature around the world we wielded after
9/11. Then, we could ask, even demand, in negotiations with a position
of strength, for nations to help us in a fair and equitable way. Win-win for everyone, and most of all for us, because we're driving events.
Now, on the other hand, we're being driven by events. Since
in the initial war buildup we played hardball with negotiations, and
overestimated our strength, we in the end poisoned some of those
relationships, and made it clear we could go it on our own, with the
help of a few traditional friends (not to mention a number of "rogue's
gallery" allies). We scorned the very idea of needing the help of "Old
Europe", or the U.N., and then marched into war in arrogance and lack of
The situation has changed. As Senator McCain states it, if we don't get help now, "we are facing a serious, long-term problem".
This almost sounds like a bailout. In other words, we are becoming
dependent on assistance now, and everyone knows it. This is not, and no
longer, negotiating in strength. It is weakness. Looking at the whole picture, from the beginning of the war process until now, it is incompetence and bungling.
Whoever was driving this process really thought they were the
smartest and baddest people in the world. The only ones who understood
the rod and mantle of power. What a joke. They have ruined the highest
state of global solidarity in memory, post-9/11 sentiment, and fumbled
negotiations for a very expensive and perilous war that could have been
easily handled otherwise.
They have fumbled away great opportunities, and, like sorceror's apprentices,
caused havoc with power. Since the sane individual doesn't agree with
their "power-or-else" philosophy, and may indeed believe that ordered
and respectful relations are the keys to world peace and prosperity,
nothing in the overall picture has been irretrievably lost. Only some
time, and we know there are those who are set on striking us. To them,
we must turn our attention, along with our freedom-loving and
peace-nurturing friends and allies around the globe.
Billmon covers some of the same points made by freelixir here:
The money quote?
"Power, a good friend recently remarked, is an odd thing -- it's most
impressive when it isn't being used. A wise hegemon goes to great
lengths to conceal the true extent of its power. It always leaves
something in the tool kit, so to speak, so that enemies and allies alike
can never be sure exactly what's in there.
But the Bush Administration has let the cat out of the bag. It has
exposed to the world the limits of U.S. military power -- both ithe size
of the forces (divisions, troops) and the relative ineffectiveness of
those forces on a complex social and political battlefield like the one
America faces in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.
Even more to the point, Bush has signaled that the financial and
political burdens of unilateralism are simply too great for any U.S.
administration to carry for long. Forced to choose between greater
mobilization at home (more troops, less tax cuts) and compromise abroad,
Bush appears to have opted for the latter.
These events no doubt will be noted, and closely studied, by friend and foe alike."
American voters should go back to the last 2 presidents that took the
usa to war ,LBJ IN VIETNAM,GEORGE BUSH SENIOR GULF WAR ,GEORGE W
BUSH,IRAQ and make a promise to themselves"never put another texan in
the whitehouse"least of all these awol warriors aka as the neocons,they
want war as long as they don't have to go and fight,real American
heroes,who was it that said "if politicians had to go to the front lines
in time of war,we would never have one"
No way should the UN get involved in Iraq. The US got itself in this
mess and should be left alone to get out of it. UN involvement would
only confer retrospective legitimacy on the war, and encourage the US to
attempt more disastrous interventions in other countries. After all,
why should the US resist its urges to take over another country if it
knows that the UN is going to end up footing the bill and taking the
heat? Kofi Annan would be made if he let the UN degenerate into the US's
Can someone please tell me what zizka was saying? I don't uderstand his/her meaning.
Perceptions do not limit reality.
If you would be unloved and forgotten, be reasonable.
Just because there's a pattern doesn't mean there's a purpose.
If I could get my membership fee back, I'd resign from the human race.
It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.
Insanity is forgetting to believe a few lies.
Seekers of truth invariably turn to lies.
Lies are only a problem when you believe them.