Foldvary: Iraq Misjudgment Perils America – What to Do
|April 12, 2004||Posted by Fred Foldvary under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Iraq Misjudgment Perils America – What to Do
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
In my judgement, the USA is in the greatest peril of its history. The hatred of the US by many in the Islamic domain has been inflamed even further by America’s occupation of Iraq. The haters of the US have raised the level of the crisis by kidnapping citizens of the coalition and using that to make threats. The war in Iraq now rages on several fronts as cities have been taken over by the anti-coalition forces. The US has reached the time when there is no good solution. The terrorist danger to America is worse than ever, and there is little we can do about it.
How did it come to this? The problem goes back to the 1980s when the US government foolishly backed Iraq in its war against Iran, and Muslim extremists in their war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Then there was a failure by the US chiefs to vigorously pursue terrorism during the 1990s, when there were attacks on the World Trade Center, American embassies and ships, and the foolish American military presence in Somalia.
Big errors were made by several parties when the US invaded Iraq. First, Congress violated the US Constitution by authorizing and funding the invasion without the Constitutionally required declaration of war. Second, the peace movement failed to prevent the war. I personally witnessed an allegedly anti-war demonstration in San Francisco. The crowd was full of Bush-bashing signs. The speakers kept crying out ‘no war!’ but failed to present an intellectual analysis. The slogan was ‘no blood for oil.’ So where are the oil profits? Unlike the anti-war rallies in the Vietnam era, the anti-war effect failed to present a persuasive case to the public.
The US chiefs’ rationale for war was also a façade, as is now being shown by the hearings and books on the policy and intelligence failure before and after 9/11. The Iraqi chief himself was also to blame for acting as though there were something to hide, when there evidently was not. If there were no big weapons, why did the trade blockage continue?
Supremacists acting in the name of Islam blamed the US for its military base in Arabia and for Iraqi deaths due to the trade blockage. The Iraqi chief was exacerbating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was brutal and seemed erratic. Something had to change. But war was not the only answer. However, there was a predilection to conquer Iraq, and 9/11 provided cover.
Once Iraq was conquered, the war could have been salvaged had the US immediately given the Iraqis political power. There was a good start in setting up local advisory councils, but the US should have followed up by making these truly democratic, and transferring to them governing authority. But instead, US domination has continued for over a year.
The US chiefs say they liberated Iraq, but they foolishly shut down an opposition newspaper and imposed a ridiculous income tax. Muslims hate to be ruled by non-democratic non-Muslims. The US chiefs know this, and should have known that if this continued, the whole country would be in revolt. Brute force cannot change the mentality of the opposition by Muslims to non-Muslim occupation, a lesson that Israel, Russia, and China too have failed to learn. Note that Muslims in India are peaceful; they live in a democracy, however flawed.
What should be done now? First, President Bush should issue an apology. He should admit to error. He should express sorrow for the suffering of innocent Iraqis. He should say he is sorry that he did not help the Iraqis establish self-government as soon as the Iraqi regime fell. He should confess that the shutting down of a newspaper was a mistake and contrary to freedom.
He should, but he won’t. Of course, any misjudgments and even bad intentions by the US and its coalition partners does not morally excuse the killings, destruction, and kidnappings by the terrorists. To admit error and express sorrow does not condone others’ bad deeds.
After apologizing, the US government should hold local elections in those areas of Iraq where it is feasible. Real power and sovereignty should be transferred to these councils on June 30. The US should also announce a referendum to be held soon after June 30 for the Iraqis to decide whether the coalition troops should stay or leave.
Some are calling for the US to leave Iraq immediately. That would have been possible just after the US military captured Saddam Hussein. But now that anti-US forces have taken cities and kidnapped coalition citizens, this would be very dangerous. The terrorists would consider that a victory for their tactics. This is why there is no longer any good option. Whatever the US has done wrong, quitting now would put the US and its allies in greater, not less, danger.
Some say, turnover the mess to the United Nations, but the UN has no army. It has to get volunteer troops from member nations, and few country chiefs, if any, wish to get engaged and risk death and kidnapping to bail out the US. The opposition to the US would shift to an opposition to UN occupation. Who wants to put his hand in a hornet nest? The rebels want the foreigners out, whatever flag they be displaying.
The US could also diffuse Muslims’ anger by recognizing the 1948 boundary of Israel as permanent, and persuading as many countries as possible to do likewise. If the Arab countries could recognize Israel within its 1948 boundary, this would not imply any concession to the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. But the recognition of Israel as an independent state within its 1948 boundary would go a long way to calming the Israeli-Arab conflict, since it would show the Palestinian extremists within Israel that their desire to destroy Israel has little international Arab support.
But none of this will happen. There is much talk, but little fundamental analysis of the problem in the major US media. The big American newspapers have failed us too, by not providing a forum for real dialog. The political opponents of the administration have also failed to present the American public with effective remedies, preferring the easy route of blame and bashing.
What I find puzzling is that many Americans, even if not the majority, still believe the US chiefs are doing a good job. Some Americans of the president’s party would support the government’s policy no matter how bad the consequences. What are they thinking? They are not thinking. They are statists who identify with ‘their’ government and are likewise in denial. Phooey on them. If 99 percent of Americans opposed the current policy, it would change quickly.
Copyright 2004 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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