Advice To The Gop From A War Supporter

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by metanoia2k, Oct 26, 2003.

  1. metanoia2k

    metanoia2k Guest

    To my colleagues on this Board. This column appeared today in the NYT. Before you roll your eyes, remember the Friedman was an early supporter of the Iraq War (of course--he is a member of the Pro-Anything-Isreal- Does-Is-Okay Establishment) and a friendly to the NeoCon realpolitik in the Middle East. He basically says that the GOP faithful are not doing their president or their country any good by just cheering on the post-war coalition. Disaster looms around the corner if tough questions and serious changes do not occur on the ground NOW!

    Republicans seem to think they don't have to think when it
    comes to Iraq. They only have to applaud the president and
    whack the press for not reporting more good news from
    Baghdad - and everything will be fine. Well, think again.

    I've often pointed out the good we have done in Iraq and
    unabashedly hoped for more. No regrets. But some recent
    trends leave me worried. Unfortunately, there are few
    Democrats to press my worries on the administration. Most
    Democrats either opposed the war (a perfectly legitimate
    position) or supported it and are now trying to disown it.
    That means the only serious opposition can come from
    Republicans, so they'd better get focused - because there
    is nothing about the Bush team's performance in Iraq up to
    now that justifies a free pass. If Republicans don't get
    serious on Iraq, they will wake up a year from now and find
    all their candidates facing the same question: "How did
    your party lose Iraq?"

    If I were a Republican senator, here's what I'd tell the
    Bush team:

    . What in God's name are you doing forcing Iraqis to accept
    Turkish peacekeeping troops? Are you nuts? Not only will
    Turkish troops in Iraq alienate the Kurds, our best
    friends, but they will rile the Shiites and Sunnis as well.
    Honor is hugely important in Iraqi society, and bringing in
    Turkish soldiers - Iraq's former colonizers - to order
    around Iraqis would be a disaster. "If we bring in the
    Turks, it will bring back bad memories," notes Yitzhak
    Nakash, a Brandeis University professor and author of one
    of the best Iraq books, "The Shi'is of Iraq." "Worse, a
    Turkish presence in Iraq will only prompt the Iranians,
    Syrians and Saudis to try to increase their influence. That
    is no recipe for a stable country."

    It's time for the Bush team to admit it made a grievous
    error in disbanding Iraq's Army - which didn't even fight
    us - and declare: "We thank all the nations who offered
    troops, but we think the Iraqi people can and must secure
    their own country. So we're inviting all former Iraqi Army
    soldiers (not Republican Guards) to report back to duty.
    For every two Iraqi battalions that return to duty (they
    can weed out their own bad apples), we will withdraw an
    American one. So Iraqis can liberate themselves. Our motto
    is Iraq for the Iraqis."

    . Attacks on our forces are getting more deadly, not less.
    Besides those killed, we've had 900 wounded or maimed. We
    need to take this much more seriously. We're not facing
    some ragtag insurrection. We're facing an enemy with a
    command and control center who is cleverly picking off our
    troops and those Iraqi leaders and foreigners cooperating
    with us. Either we put in the troops needed to finish the
    war, and project our authority, or we get the Iraqi Army to
    do the job - but pretending that we're just "mopping up" is
    a dangerous illusion.

    . The neocons need a neo-Baath. I'm glad we banned the
    Baath Party, but the ban was not done right. It needed to
    be accompanied by a clear process for people who simply
    joined the Baath to secure government jobs, like school
    directors, to recant and be rehabilitated. Just tossing
    these people out has purged thousands of technocrats,
    weakened the secular middle class and left a power vacuum
    filled by religious groups. Also, Iraq needs a party that
    can express the aspirations of Iraq's Sunni minority and
    give them a stake in the new state. Right now, the Sunni
    mainstream in Iraq isn't sure how it fits into any new
    order, so the worst elements are opposing us and the best
    are apprehensively sitting on the fence.

    . "There is now a struggle for power emerging within the
    Shiite community," says Mr. Nakash, "between those clerics
    and secular leaders who are ready to give the Americans a
    chance and a grass-roots leadership that wants to challenge
    both the Americans and the traditional Shia hierarchy. This
    grass-roots leadership is seeking control of mosques,
    followers, religious authority and income from religious
    taxes. Iraq is rapidly moving toward the politics of
    militias and arms. This trend has to be stopped."

    Bottom line: We still haven't established a moderate
    political center in Iraq ready to openly embrace the
    progressive U.S. agenda for Iraq and openly defend it. That
    center is potentially there, but because, so far, we have
    failed to provide a secure enough environment, or a
    framework for Iraqis to have the national dialogue they
    need to build a better Iraq, it has not emerged. We need to
    fix this situation fast. Instead of applauding without
    thinking, Republicans should be telling that to the

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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