Baghdad Goes The Way Of Saigon

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by freeandfun1, May 19, 2004.

  1. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    As much as I hate to agree with the following analysis, I have to admit he has hit the nail on the head on many aspects.

    As an intellectually honest Republican, I have to admit that the administration has made some mistakes. I just hope we do better in our War on Terrorism in the future.

    I still believe (know) that George is the best man for this war, but I hope he stops listening to SOME of his advisors.

    ==============================================
    BAGHDAD GOES THE WAY OF SAIGON
    by George Jonas
    National Post
    May 17, 2004

    U.S. administrator Paul Bremer announced last week that the coalition forces will leave Iraq, even before the country's general elections, if asked to do so by an interim Iraqi government. His statement followed the breaking news of the scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, and came about eight months after President Bush proclaimed, in September, 2003, that America is committed to rebuilding Iraq and won't leave until this mission is accomplished.

    No matter what spin the Bush-administration puts on it, the departure won't be a victorious homecoming after a mission accomplished. When the U.S. folds its tents at the end of June, the reins of power will pass to the UN's Lakhdar Brahimi, an Algerian of Pan-Arab bent, whose vision for Iraq, even if not identical to the late Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser's, is closer to it than to any vision of a Western-style pluralistic democracy.

    Mr. Brahimi is an Arab, but the coalition won't be able to take comfort from this. His UN-sanctioned rule will be nothing like German and Japanese administrators carrying out Allied agendas for democratization at the end of the Second World War. As the Arab-American scholar Fouad Ajami commented in The Wall Street Journal last week: "Mr. Brahimi hails from the very political class that has wrecked the Arab world." Iraq's likely future will be an uneasy standoff between secularist and Islamicist strongmen representing Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish factions -- at best. At worst, it will be civil war. In either case, the U.S. departure won't be a strategic withdrawal but an abandonment of the field, reminiscent of the last helicopters lifting off from the rooftop of the American embassy in Saigon.

    How did it come about? How did it happen that, after effortlessly winning a military campaign in 21 days, resulting in the total collapse of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime and the eventual capture of Saddam himself, the coalition couldn't even achieve a draw? How could Saddam have lost every battle and still won the war -- a Phyrric victory for him, no doubt, but a victory nevertheless?

    The answer lies in a remark Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, Napoleon's foreign minister, made 200 years ago. As the French Emperor was proudly reviewing his troops in 1804, at the height of his military success, Talleyrand cautioned him with a line that has become famous: "One can do anything with bayonets, Sire, except sit on them."

    Talleyrand offered his bon mot two centuries ago, but he could have addressed it last year to President Bush about Iraq. Having demolished both the Taliban and Saddam's regime with minimal losses, the U.S.-led coalition proceeded to sit, not on its laurels
    (which would have been a lesser error) but on its bayonets. The Bush administration fell into the trap of using the armed forces for nation building.

    Bayonets are highly effective in winning over the enemy, but they're not very useful for winning the enemy over. During his presidential campaign, then-governor Bush repeatedly suggested that he wouldn't make his predecessor's mistake. He wouldn't attempt to build other people's nations for them, in Somalia or Haiti or anywhere else. That's the way to Mogadishu, to the dead bodies of Americans being dragged through the streets.

    If President Bush had listened to governor Bush, the war against Saddam would have ended in victory. Mr. Bush's war on terrorism had realistic and attainable goals.

    They entailed the disruption of terrorist networks, such as al-Qaeda, as well as the elimination of regimes that aided and sheltered terrorists, such as the Taliban or Iraq's Baathist dictatorship. Once this was done, the military -- apart from the forces needed to pursue villains still at large, such as Osama bin Laden -- had no more useful role to play. The liberated areas ought to have been handed over to the United Nations without delay. Mr. Bush could have let Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his associates occupy themselves with the delights of nation- and democracy-building in the Gulf region and the Hindu Kush.

    No doubt, some UN groupies would have grumbled. They would have said, as Canada's former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy did, that the UN is destined for bigger things than being "a handmaiden to pick up post-conflict debris." But once the Americans rode off into the sunset, grumbling was all anyone could do.

    Unfortunately, President Bush ended up not listening to candidate Bush. He instead listened to policymakers, who argued -- on both sides of the political spectrum -- that big powers have responsibilities. They can't just hit and run. They can't go around eliminating hostile regimes, causing collateral damage in the process, then just say to the people: "All right, we got rid of your tyrant for you. Now we'll leave. You don't have to thank us, but if you let another tyrant take his place, especially one who is hostile to us, we'll be back."

    Mr. Bush allowed himself to be persuaded that modern powers can't say things like this, partly because it's arrogant, and partly because it's bad political science.

    Getting rid of tyrants isn't enough. We must change cultures, build nations, teach democracy. That's the way to make sure
    tyrants don't come back. The President couldn't just land on his aircraft carrier and say to Iraqis:

    "OK, folks, you're now free. Goodbye, and make the best of it."

    Yet this is precisely what Mr. Bush is saying now -- which proves that he could have said it before. Then it would have been free; now he must say it at a price. He must say it after apologizing for Abu Ghraib on Arab TV. He must say it at the cost of more than 700 American lives lost after major combat operations have ended.

    The last day the coalition had any business in Iraq was Dec. 13, 2003, when a unit of young American soldiers dug Saddam out of a hole in the village of ad-Dawr. The last boat to leave Iraq in triumph was sailing the next day. Missing that boat has turned the Second Gulf War into an object lesson in how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
     
  2. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    I don't think that any final decision has been made as to who will "take the reins"
     
  3. nycflasher
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    nycflasher Active Member

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    Interesting article.

    For the past few months I've been saying, we're going to turn over the reigns on June 30th? I just don't see how this transition will be a smooth one. I guess it depends in part on what continued role the US military fills over there.
     
  4. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    The US military will continue to be in control of security there I assume. I think the turnover will be largely symbolic but never the less an attempt to return Iraq to Iraqis. The US says it will leave if asked by the Iraqi govt but I don't think they will ask and we didn't say we would leave unconditionally !
     
  5. st8_o_mind
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    I believe Rummy backed away from that statement without flatly contradicting it on Capitol Hill a couple of days ago. Yesterday, Wolfowitz was asked during his testimony before the Senate how many troops the US would keep in Iraq over the next 18 months, he replied that "it could be more, it could be less" than the 135,000 troops the Pentagon plans to station there.

    More to the point of your posting, a head-line on the front page article in the Washington Post today read: U.S. Faces Growing Fears of Failure, Wolfowitz concedes Errors as Damage Control Continues.

    The article opens, "The Bush Administration is struggling to counter growing sentiment -- among U.S. lawmakers, Iraqis and even some if its own officials -- that the occupation of Iraq is verging on failure...".


    I am increasingly of the mind that history will repeat itself with respect to Iraq. Clinton inherited a mess in Iraq from Bush I, Kerry may well inherit a quagmire in Iraq from Junior.
     
  6. nycflasher
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    nycflasher Active Member

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    Yep. See thread on Islam and Democracy. This interests me of late, the compatibility(or incompatability) of Islam and Democracy.
     
  7. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    That is a good, but frightening read. The problem is, if we do not force some kind of Representative Democracy in the ME world, there are only two options left.

    1) Dictatorial rule, which is what exists in most Moslem countries today and is the blame for most of the ills of the ME.

    or

    2) A theocracy. Which we sure as hell do not want to see.

    Therefore, it appears more and more if this world is doomed to forever having to confront terrrorism. The only way to keep it out of our county would be to become Isolationist and to shut our borders to all outsiders while exporting all Muslims.

    Of course, this is not an option, so all I can say is, we better start reading our Bibles!

    JMHO!
     
  8. walwor
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    Hi, all. New user here.

    At the end of this message, I'm providing a link to an editorial from a Marine, published in USA Today. It starts off like this:

    "This is my third deployment with the 1st Marine Division to the Middle East.

    This is the third time I've heard the quavering cries of the talking heads predicting failure and calling for withdrawal.

    This is the third time I find myself shaking my head in disbelief.

    Setbacks and tragedy are part and parcel of war and must be accepted on the battlefield. We can and will achieve our goals in Iraq."

    You should read the whole thing to get the whole picture this soldier describes. It is the difference between the details of what is really going on in Iraq, and the sensationalized headlines and stories that originate from news sources whose goal is to scoop each other and keep us watching "after this word from our sponsor."

    USA Today Editorial
     
  9. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    Welcome and thanks for the article.

    May I suggest you post it in a new thread?

    I surmise that you have not read the article at the start of this thread as the two (your article and the topic of this thread) have nothing in common.

    Thanks.

    :D
     

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