An interesting article in The Guardian about what we should do in Iraq. She argues that the UN should not support the US in Iraq and should join the mutiny against the US and force the US out of Iraq.

Naomi Klein, Saturday May 1, 2004, The Guardian
Mutiny is the only way out of Iraq's inferno

The UN betrayed Iraq by becoming the political arm of US occupation. Now it must redeem itself

Can we please stop calling it a quagmire? The United States isn't mired in a bog in Iraq, or a marsh; it is free-falling off a cliff. The only question now is: who will follow the Bush clan off this precipice, and who will refuse to jump?

More and more are, thankfully, choosing the second option. The last month of US aggression in Iraq has inspired what can only be described as a mutiny: waves of soldiers, workers and politicians under the command of the US occupation authority suddenly refusing to follow orders and abandoning their posts. First Spain announced that it would withdraw its troops, then Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Kazakhstan. South Korean and Bulgarian troops were pulled back to their bases, while New Zealand is withdrawing its engineers. El Salvador, Norway, the Netherlands and Thailand will likely be next.

[...]

There is a way that the UN can redeem itself in Iraq: it could choose to join the mutiny, further isolating the United States. This would help to force Washington to hand over real power - ultimately to Iraqis, but first to a multilateral coalition that did not participate in the invasion and occupation and would have the credibility to oversee direct elections. This could work, but only through a process that fiercely protects Iraq's sovereignty.

via Martin Varsavsky

19 Comments

Yes, and the US should have just handed control to a random group of Japanese in 1945 and left. Would have worked out just fine.

Sheesh, do you look past your blinkers at all when you post? Iraq is now the responsibility of the US. Whether you believe it was a good idea to go in or not doesn't matter now - it's our task to fix it. Posts like this, and suggestions like those you make, are unhelpful. Say we just left - would you be pleased by the resulting civil war and likely battle for influence between actors from Syria and Iran?

Would the resulting mess be good for the world? Look at where your nation gets oil from before you answer that question.

James, I posted a link to this article because I think it's an interesting perspective. I'm not sure if I agree with it. I'd like to hear arguments from people on this.

I will tell you that Iraq is a hell of a lot different from Japan. There was no resistance in post-war Japan, the government of Japan was basically left intact and there are other differences ad infinitum.

I think the article is not saying that everyone should leave, but that the US should leave and pass it over to a coalition force minus the US.

Handing the transition over to the countries not participating with the US leaves the countries that supplied Iraq during the period of sanctions to manage the transition. The Sedam Hussein regime in Iraq owes enormous debt to these non-participating countries. Do you think these pragmatic countries would forgo that debt for the rebuilding of Iraq? I think not. They might well bring quicker order and stability to Iraq but in a heavy-handed manner that could make Sedam Hussein look benevolent. I trust we will leave Iraq with its oil. I think they would not. Read the blogs from within Iraq! Try www.healingiraq.com, an Iraqi dentist with a sarcastic wit.

War and rivalry are a part of middle east culture
and history. Yes, there will be civil war but this
will be their business to deal with, as it
should be.
"We" can't fix it. That becomes more and more
evident with each day's passing.

It's still early. This could take decades.

Well, we can't leave now. Unfortunately, Bush and the military haven't done the best job in creating a stable government because they're so over-focused on democracy and modern nations' systems...

To bring a country like Iraq up to our level of democracy, you have to start more simply. I think you have to start with basic institutions and stability, and really forget about democracy for a while.

The best way to make Iraq stable would have been to give control to regional warlords first, and not worry so much about the horrible things they'd be doing. Next, establish boundaries between them that are airtight, make them agree on the boundaries, and enforce them. This would minimize expenditures to just making sure these warlords stayed within their areas.

Now, you have a bit of stability, and can begin to cajole the warlords into little concessions in return for benefits. This is the way most democracies, such as the U.S. have developed. Not from the top-down, but bottom-up. At this point, we'd help them by developing basic infrastructure throughout the country, raise the level of basic services and improve the economy, and then finally, the people would start demanding changes from their warlords, not from the U.S... At this point, the U.S. could step in and (although it might be hard), try to implement elections or shifts in the power structure of these proto-states.

This would take a long time, but I think it would really be the "right" way to do it in order to create a lasting, stable, democratic country there.

As to the comparison with Japan, I think a closer analogy would be if the U.S. had conquered Japan before the Meiji reformation, and had to try to unify all the warring states...

The reason Japan did the Meiji restoration was so that Japan wouldn't end up as a colony as other countries and Asia were becoming. It was quite an impressive act in light of how wimpy Japan is these days...

I agree. Japan threw away not only militarism but also all its courage and soul after WWII. I would like to see modern Japanese leaders realize that they can regain the courage and dynamism of pre-WWII figures, and even Shinto, and not become totalitarians or racists.

I think they should start by growing beards and moustaches. ;)

This statement: "Without US troops, the major incitement to violence would be removed, allowing the country to be stabilised with far fewer soldiers and far less force."
is really bizarre, especially as it's followed by one that represents the real situation: "Iraq would still face security challenges - there would still be extremists willing to die to impose Islamic law, and attempts by Saddam loyalists to regain power."

There's no reason at all to think there would be less violence if the U.S. On the contrary, the U.S. is the only country that has both the ability and the will to see it through. As Klein points out, a lot of the other countries have withdrawn just when the going got tough. Her solution? Let the neighboring Arab states do the job. Except (1) they have all already refused to do so. (2) They would have no incentive other than to divy up Iraq. (3) Not one of the neighboring Arab countries see democracy as anything but a threat. (4) The only role model in this area is Syria, a dictatorship which installed a puppet government in Lebanon, thereby ending the civil war there.

Really, the whole notion is bizarre. The U.S. is not in a quagmire or falling off a cliff. The U.S. is in a war. That's how wars go--sometimes there are setbacks. The U.S. has basically unlimited material resources compared to the insurgents, has a kill ratio of something like 10 to 1 in the current Fallujah fighting.

The situation in Fallujah is just a battle, one which the U.S. is winning. It would have been over by now if the U.S. acted like Arab governments did, without regard to civilian casualties (I'm not arguing that we should!). Perhaps that's the reason Klein wants the Arab armies there, so they will use their time-tested ways of dealing with insurgencies: level the city with artillery.

Supposedly the war ended a year ago, and we're an occupying force - which is to say that, technically, we're not in a war. Our goal as an occupying force is, again supposedly, to stabilize Iraq as Iraqis rebuild. They're supposed to practice self-determination, and withdrawal may be perceived as a willingness on our part to let that process go forward.

The problem here may be in a misguided belief that you can invade a country and force its citizens to build a democracy. Do you see what's wrong with this picture?

I'm amazed that what took the Afghans several years to achieve the Iraqis have done in a year, and most of that in the last month. If things continue this way the US is going to get pretty desperate to leave - should be interesting to see what concessions they're finally forced to make despite themselves

What Iraq needs is a kinder, gentler Saddam who can properly terrorize it's citizens into peace and harmony with the rest of the world.

Ideally, that person should be married to a women's rights activist who can terrorize him into giving women more freedom.

Iraq needs a King. It is now time to restore the Hashemite Monarchy. A Sunni King who can cut a deal with the Kurds and Ayatollah Sistani. If Iran and the US would work together the war would be over.

I dont care what it is, as long as its a non-theocracy. And has a goverment under this that works well enough.

I suppose you could still throw the kids in school and indoctrinate them with an agenda in mind, but as long as its not islamic, the US will have done its job.

"a multilateral coalition ... to oversee direct elections ... through a process that fiercely protects Iraq's sovereignty"

D'oh! What do you think the U.S. is trying to do? If the UN has any great ideas about how to accomplish real elections, we're all ears.

So the UN goes in (concretely, who? Troops from where? The Japan SDF? Switzerland?). And then they start getting killed off by one of the many conflicting factions (Iraqi Muslims, Saddam's old boys, foreign terrorists looking to create anarchy). People are afraid to run for office or even vote. Do you go ahead and hold elections at this point? Would the UN put in the sort of force that could keep any sort of order? Does the Guardian even know that "UN peacekeeping forces" has historically meant the US plus some token others?

'Does the Guardian even know that "UN peacekeeping forces" has historically meant the US plus some token others?'

Nice stating-opinion-as-fact, Barnes.

http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/peacekpg/data/pktp00.htm notes that in the year 2000 (picking a date before the US had post-9/11 security worries of its own), even *Bangladesh* contributed more troops to UN peacekeeping operations than the US did.

So it'd be more like "developing-world countries plus some token US troops", really ;)

> D'oh! What do you think the U.S. is trying to do?
> If the UN has any great ideas about how to
>accomplish real elections, we're all ears.

Ever heard about East Timor? Democratic elections and establishment of a new state under the UN? Of course, there wasn't that business of an invasion..

> I dont care what it is, as long as its a non-theocracy.
> And has a goverment under this that works well enough.

> I suppose you could still throw the kids in
> school and indoctrinate them with an agenda in
> mind, but as long as its not islamic, the US
> will have done its job.

That's an excellent description of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. A secular government, in which (incidentally) womens rights were fairly well protected, especially in comparison to the surrounding countries.

> Really, the whole notion is bizarre. The U.S.
> is not in a quagmire or falling off a
> cliff. The U.S. is in a war. That's how wars
> go--sometimes there are setbacks. The U.S.
> has basically unlimited material resources
> compared to the insurgents, has a kill ratio
> of something like 10 to 1 in the current Fallujah
> fighting.

'We had to destroy the village to save it.'

Now that you have defeated the Iraqi army, all that remains is to kill all the Iraqis - then the nation building can begin?

My personal opinion is that the US has created this mess, and it deserves to clean it up. Unfortunately, I can't conceive of any of the US administration, military leadership or the troops on the ground being able to do the job, especially now that nobody left in Iraq trusts them.

There's no guarantees that the UN will succeed either, of course.

And would people please stop claiming that peace and democracies were Bush's and/or the Americans' goal? Their goal was to stop Saddam from launching his horrible arsenal of chemical weapons to destroy the world within 45 minutes. You may have forgotten all about that, but I sure didn't. Freedom was tacked on as a war goal after that claim fell flat on its belly.

The real reasons for war are most likely a sick mix of American oil interests and Bush's personal mania to secure himself a place in history as god's righteous warrior who saved America and completed the mission his father abandoned.

It has become quite clear that America must leave Iraq. Anything the Americans do there, any government they install or help create will just be despised as modern colonialism. Even if - and that's a huge if - the Americans began to show a true altruistic attitude, if by any measure all of their actions suddenly started to be in the best interest of Iraq, it would still be considered to be colonialism/imperialism, a modern version of white man's burden. And that just doesn't work, just look at how much damage the European countries did with their global empires.

Of course there's no real solution. The American's "can't" just run away and leave a power vacuum; then we'll get (probably) an Iraq ruled by a fanatic theocracy. And on the other hand anybody who comes to replace the Americans will just be viewed as American henchmen. In addition I frankly do not see why the EU, the UN, or anybody else should bear any of the cost of the mess the Americans made DESPITE stern warnings that their actions were a bad idea. America got itself into it, America needs to get itself out of it. I just feel very, very sorry for every Iraqi who has to suffer or die because of it.

I can imagine how it ends, of course. Think southeast Asia without jungles.

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