September 23, 2004

How many ways can you spell FUBAR?

Unfortunately, Jessica Mathews has it right. We can't keep Iraq as our own little strategic foothold and create some sort of Iraqi democracy and maintain stability. At least one of these has to give, and in the long run, we'll be happiest giving up our strategic foothold. (Which is only to say that in the long run, we'll be unhappiest overseeing an Iraqi civil war.) I say "unfortunately," because dismantling our bases and cutting the puppet strings will meant that we've spent a lot of blood and money in Iraq without much national gain.

Anyways, her solutions to Iraq are: withdraw from the Green Zone; reassure Iraqis that we have no long-term intentions on their country; break contracts with Halliburton etc. and get Iraqis working on reconstruction; increase troop levels in the streets; convene an international summit for debt relief and border security. Oh, and delay elections. Too bad Ayatollah Sistani has already struck that option down. Although I imagine if the U.S. promised to reduce its political presence (by moving out of Baghdad) and withdraw support from Allawi & co., and brought back a heavier U.N. presence, we could probably persuade Sistani to sit tight and wait. But what then? There's still the possibility that an elected Shiite-Sunni "religious" government would provoke the Kurds, etc., bring doomsday, etc. On the other hand, we can't really say with certainty that the "faster elections" advocates have it wrong -- maybe we can ring in an Allawi-dominated National Assembly in January, leave out a number of Sunni voters, and eke by with that much-fabled "tenuous stability" option. Egad. Remind us never to invade a faction-ridden country again… Oh, right.
-- Brad Plumer 4:55 PM || ||