Hawking Iraq
Posted by aogThursday, 10 April 2003 at 21:08 TrackBack Ping URL
Gideon Rose writes
The administration's postwar plans for Iraq are still being fought over internally, but three distinct themes appear to feature prominently: promoting democracy, limiting American involvement, and keeping the rest of the international community at arm's length. Many observers find this troika somewhat baffling, because they see no way of achieving all three objectives simultaneously.
I suspect that many observers find this baffling because they are suffering from a serious case of reality dysfunction. Rose himself seems to have either a mild case or is just getting lucky. He expresses some concerns about whether the Iraqi National Congress and Ahmad Chalabi in particular can lead Iraq out of the realm of failed states. I have some concerns in that area as well. Where we differ is that I don't believe the hawks (to use Rose's term) are attempting this out of a mistaken belief in “magical powers attributed by administration hawks to the Iraqi opposition” but out of resignation. We must try, we must do what we can, but we can only play with the cards we're dealt.

Rose's primary failure is his faith in central planning. He cannot envision anything happening unless it is planned at the top and implemented through an flock of apparatchiks. For instance,

governing a post-Saddam Iraq [... will require ... ] providing basic services to a large population while restarting a rundown and complicated economy
Some of us believe that if the government takes care of the basic services the complicated economy will take care of itself and that, in fact, attempts to restart it by the government will be counter productive. Perhaps President Bush actually believes in a minimal state and plans to demonstrate its efficacy in Iraq.

Rose gives the game away shortly after that with the statement

The determination to keep out the United Nations, Europe, and the rest of the world might also eventually fall by the wayside, because it is sustained more by ideology and petulance than by logic.
It's just petulance to look at the trail of corruption and malfeasance left by the UN over the last few decades and ideology to wonder about the bona fides of an organization that puts Libya in charge of a human rights commission. Better to abandon the Iraqis to their own devices than inflict the UN on them. I really liked this bit, though:
Negotiating the details of how to bring in others without ceding too much control over Iraq's future will be tricky, but hardly impossible—this is what the much-maligned striped-pants set over at the State Department does for a living, after all.
I think they're maligned because they're a bunch of tyranophiles who would happily sell out the Iraqi people for a favorable annual review. Earlier Rose claims that
So, while the easiest path to stability might be to turn control of Iraq over to some competent pro-American strongman, this would be both a tragedy and a mistake.
Excuse me, but isn't turning Iraq over to a pro-American strongman precisely what the State Department is advocating? Rose is suggesting that we can avoid this result by turning over control to its primary advocate in the US government? And further by involving an organization that dominated by and strongly accomodating of strongmen the world over? The very history of the argument over the invasion shows just how unworthy the US State Department and the UN are to take any responsibility for Iraq. We owe the Iraqis far too much for our failure in 1991 to do that kind of thing to them again.