January 30, 2005

Insurgents, Elections, Development, Oh My!

There's no way I can link to every last thing written about Iraq today, but Newsweek's reporting team has a truly outstanding cover story on the insurgency, as well as the harvest of intelligence we've reaped from failed suicide bomber Ahmed Abdullah al-Shayiah. Some of the revelations—such as the fact that the U.S. pissed off potentially friendly tribal leaders in the early days of war, or the theory that some of the Sunni insurgents really might be willing to make peace—will be familiar to readers of this blog.

Other points are quite new, though, such as their take on the mysterious fact that Iraqi Baathist insurgents suddenly made peace with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi sometime around mid-September. Or the fact that the U.S. military could've easily disrupted the Baathist insurgency's infrastructure early on, if only we hadn't been so focused on hunting down foreign fighters. The whole thing's long, but well worth reading, and suggests that one election won't be nearly enough to win this battle.

Also, Fareed Zakaria is equally excellent with his pre-emptive take on the elections. "Elections are not democracy," he says, and yeah, it's obvious, but worth belaboring. Most crucially, Iraq needs to "create a non-oil-based economy and government." Word. Word! Iraq's economic development doesn't get a lot of coverage, but it really should—for starters, there ought to be more of a debate over whether neo-liberalism-style development is appropriate for Iraq. Robert Looney of the Naval Postgraduate School has done some stellar work on this topic, and I do hope that the State Department's thinking seriously about this. Iraq's first proconsul, Jay Garner, was fired for opposing the rapid (and mostly illegal) privatization and liberalization of Iraq's industries—but we haven't heard much about this issue since. Naomi Klein of The Nation gets into it from time to time, but she's a bit too shrill for me.

Oh, and the question I wanted to ask: When did Newsweek get so damned good?
-- Brad Plumer 7:57 PM || ||