Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Iraq War Mess and Beyond

First we got Joe Klein in Time writing that America’s Iraq campaign is in free fall. Then during the Senate testimonies General Pace uses Tom Friedman’s description – ‘Iraqi sects hate each other more than they love their children’. After the testimony Sen. Clinton asks President to accept Sec. Remusfeld’s resignation. Friedman himself makes his column space available exclusively for the ‘Plan B’. So the sense of ‘lost campaign’ is palpable in Congress, in Washington and in America. Looks like finally America is coming to terms that essentially Iraq war is lost, if not militarily but politically sure. In Newsweek Eleanor Clifts summarizes the predicament of America – in the hard and rock place. But the top in these commentaries was NYT editorial – ‘A Timetable Isn’t an Exit Strategy’; blasting, rightly so, the Kerry line of Democratic party. All in all America is essentially preparing for the loss and to start the long and painful process of internalizing yet another foreign policy failure. One can say spectacular failure with devastating consequences.

At the outset, it should be said that President Bush and his cohort will not change their policy of ‘stay the course’ and ‘spin the war’. Wall Street Journal types and Financial Times still prescribe that theory. NYT is right in characterizing that if possible for all 29 remaining months, President Bush will pretend that everything is on track in the Iraq campaign, nothing needs to be changed and then President Bush with VP Cheney will give this problem as a gift to the next administration. This means in the calculus of ‘facing the tragic Iraq campaign’ America can not assume honest participation by her President. On the other hand he and his supporters will be a hindrance in addressing the true challenges on hand. This makes the task quite difficult to the Congress, Media and those in America Public who want to start solving this Iraq mess. But that is how it is - America unfortunately has a President whose political interests are not aligned with what is best for America.

To recap, here are the failures of President Bush’s Iraq campaign:
1. Once WMD reason fell on the face, President Bush, VP Cheney and Rice have been relentlessly selling the main goal of Iraq campaign as ‘bringing democracy in Iraq’ and that Democracy in Arab world is the panacea of America’s long term security from Terrorism.
2. Sec. Reumsfled tried to win this war on cheap and never provided any realistic resources to contain centrifugal forces from the start.
3. President Bush tried to sell a theory that Iraq campaign for bringing Democracy and Lebanese elections will help solve the Israel Palestine conflict. In other words it is okay to ignore the centrality of this dispute, concentrate on Democracy in Iraq, help spread it in greater Middle East and then everything will be fine.

Reality of last 3 years in Iraq and the current Israel – Hamas & Hezbollag conflicts refute President Bush’s theories’ conclusively.

Iraq war is lost and America needs to change the direction – give up dieing of American soldiers and spending of America tax dollars for the sake of Democratic Government in Iraq. Enough has been spent. How about bothering to spend these American resources for America’s security now?

This means the focus cannot be on whether Iraq stays as a single country, but on what can America buy at lesser cost. This means to fully understand the central enemy in Middle East – Iran. So if division of Iraq is unavoidable, so be the case then. Kursdistan will be not any threat to America’s security. The key is to reposition America’s already existing forces in Iraq to align along the Iran border so that Shiite regime in Iraqi South does not completely assimilate with Iran. The goal should be to keep Iraqi Southern Shiite regime as much away from Iran as possible.

The real problem in division of Iraq will be Sunni Anbar and Baghdad. It can not sustain itself as a state for a long long time. This is where the first crucial involvement of Saudi’s is needed. America will need to work with Sunni regional partners of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan to contain the mini Sunni statelet in the Western province of the current Iraq. Managing divisions of Iraq to the best of America’s interest becomes the primary focus when one realizes the futility of Democracy in Iraq enterprise.

The other parallel track while this is going on, is to address Arab – Israel conflict. The second important contribution needed from House of Saudi is to garner an explicit sponsorship of the peace process in this conflict. America’s goal should be to involve all the Sunni regimes of the area in order to contain the militant influence of Shiite Iran.

There is no glory in this business. There are no politically profitable moments of basking in the glory while espousing role of Democracy as the leader of Free World. But once all such unrelated concepts are separated from America’s fundamental security needs, one sees a path to get out of the Iraq mess. This means America’s forces will be committed to stay in present day Iraq for many years, but for different reasons. Somebody must be kidding if she says Americans soldiers can come all from Iraq. That is why NYT blasts Democrats too – they can not lie to America that washing hands with Iraq war will bring all the sunshine. If Democrats do not want to be as wantonly irresponsible as President Bush, they need to tell Americans the continued involvement needed. What American Leadership can do and should do is to realign the Iraq strategy to the changed context.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
August 08, 2006.

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