Monday, March 22, 2004
previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (1)
Statebuilding proceeds in Iraq
The Washington Post reports on an imminent deal to disarm the two big militias remaining in Iraq. The key parts:
posted by Dan on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM
This should improve the situation, or at the very least help reduce the possibility of things getting worse. The militias have always been a potential problem, if they decided to start fighting us or each other things would incredibly messy. Definitely good news.
Does anyone know how they'll be disarmed, I mean what are they going to do with the weapons after they've been handed over? Are they going to destroy them or give them to the new security forces or something?posted by: sam on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
The situation in Iraq continues to improve. We even hear people in Syria, Iran, and other Arab countries talking about Democracy. The leader of Jordan recently met with Ariel Sharon. Could things get worse? Yes, that is admittedly a possibility. The odds, though, seem to indicate that the worst is over. Why are the liberals so gloomy? This is because they are subconsciously, if not even consciously, enemies of Western Civilization. They want the United States and its allies to fail.posted by: David Thomson on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
You can't seriously expect either one of these militias to disarm. For a federal system to work in Iraq, each local region must be able to defend itself from aggression by other regions, or the central government. The constitution gives the regional governments power to govern, so it makes no sense to turn around and make the regional governments completely vulnerable to a central power.
Iraq is not a country that can be remade along western lines. It may have worked in Germany and to a lesser extent Japan, but Iraq is an ancient tribal land. It sounds like some US government bureaucrats need to take a crash course in intertribal dynamics.posted by: Ted Balmers on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
"For a federal system to work in Iraq, each local region must be able to defend itself from aggression by other regions, or the central government."
For a federal system to work anywhere, including Iraq, the member states and the national government need to learn how to resolve disputes amongst themselves peacefully.
The fact that the militia leaders are willing to disarm would seem to show that they want to remove the temptation of using force to get what they want.posted by: Dave T. on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
"Why are the liberals so gloomy? This is because they are subconsciously, if not even consciously, enemies of Western Civilization. They want the United States and its allies to fail."
I agree that there are positive things happening in Iraq that have not been reported. However, hard as it is to believe, I really don't think that everyone who questions the war is a self-hating,liberal, pacifist wimp who hates the West. Anymore than supporters are imperialist war mongers out for oil.
There are lots of reasons to be gloomy. I, for one, am pessimistic because, being Jewish, I always assume the worst. Believe me, you don't want me being optimistic.posted by: MWS on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
The lights are on, but it seems nobody is home on this blog. Anyone home with brains? According to the very same article:
"Many militiamen will likely be absorbed into existing security organizations such as the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, where their loyalties will continue to be divided between their Baghdad paymasters and local or sectarian affiliations," Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote last week in a paper on Iraq's militias.
In other words, they're not going to get disarmed and "dissolved". They will get new uniforms, their paychecks will come from Baghdad, and they will probably keep the same commanders and command structure only nominally under the control of the "central" government.
How I think this is progress, but to call this disarmanent or dissolution of militias is ludricous. A better turn of phrase is that they're licensing them. This allows all the militias to go legit. Anyone who refuses to register and get licensed will be hunted down.
That's a better analysis. However just putting on uniforms and staying in the same units doesn't make them a real cohesive national army or security force. In the breakup of Yugoslavia the fact that the army had worked together for years with the same uniform didn't stop them from turning their guns on each other or the majority Serbs in the army from using their military equipment on Croat and Bosnian civilians.
The gain to sectarian stability is zero. With everyone on knife-edge about sectarian stability and people being allowed to keep AK-47's for protection, even the "retired" military members will really be just demobilized. Sent home for R&R or other activities, until they need be called up again.
I applaud this advance but the presentation of the facts here is highly distorting. There is no real disarmanent going on. There is no real dissolution of sectarian militias. There is no sign of real command reorganization or ethnic mixing of units. They're just issuing paychecks, uniforms, and licenses.
To call it otherwise is ridiculous and to think it manifestly lessens the chance of sectarian clash - it does not increase it - is foolish.
I'd roll my eyes here if you could see me. This is making a mountain out of a mole hill.posted by: Oldman on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
No, O, it (the press coverage) is merely mistaking a necessary for a sufficient step.
Sectarian clashes are still a possibility -- they will remain one for decades in all likelihood -- but absorbing militia members into national security organizations is still something that has to happen, for several reasons. Shias will end up having most of the power in a new Iraqi government; it is therefore undesirable for armed Shia groups to remain outside the government (among other things, groups outside the government would have to find creative ways of paying their expenses). Also, some of the militia members (especially the Kurds) have been bearing arms for a very long time. There isn't much else they know how to do, and finding a way to put them on a pension is one obvious means of discouraging them from making trouble.
The other thing to consider is that both Shia and Kurd militias arose in the first place in response to the former Sunni Arab government, not to fight one another. Shia and Kurd do have many differences, but these are much smaller than the differences they have had in the past with Sunni Arabs. Incorporating militia members into national security organizations, though it does nothing to eliminate sectarian differences does provide a potentially useful means of managing them.
There is still a good chance the arrangement could fall apart -- for one thing, as I note above, the deadliest sectarian fault line isn't addressed by the agreement announced yesterday -- but for militias to eventually decline as a threat to the new government this had to happen first. Under the circumstances and with all the caveats it is a major achievement for Paul Bremer.posted by: Zathras on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Why does David Thomson hate American democracy? The enemies of Western Civilization are actively trying to kill us all, not peacefully begging to differ on a question of priorities. If you're at the point where you can't tell the difference between Al Qaeda and the democratic process, then it's time to blink hard, put down the Ann Coulter novel, and turn back toward the light. The "liberals" you're so eager to hate are not your real enemy.
I welcome the news that Shiite and Kurdish militias are disbanding into a national army and police force, though I share Oldman's concern that only an integrated force will reduce the risk of ethnic strife. That news doesn't change my belief that George Bush is not a good fit for the War on Terror's next phase -- we've reached the limits of what we can achieve with Bush at the helm. His bellicose rhetoric is increasingly a liability to the war effort, the inaccuracies in his pre-war claims are getting harder and harder to explain, and his lack of cooperation with the 9/11 commission is improper regardless of his other conduct.posted by: Scott Forbes on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
I agree as I've said that this is a welcome advance. I just disagree with the spin on it, which as you mention uses terms like "dissolves" and "disarms" what would be better called "incorporates" and "licenses".
The Iraqi basic law is being contested even as the ink is drying - as I pointed out to Buehner a few days ago but was ridiculed for ... simply predicting accurately the future.
I am a conservative and I want secular liberal democracy to succeed in Iraq, but wishing it so will not make it so. I wonder what has gone so wrong with my fellow Republicans that they would fail to deny the simple truth, especially when it is vindicated in short order.
Good analysis and fact finding are the foundation of any successful policy.posted by: Oldman on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
“His bellicose rhetoric is increasingly a liability to the war effort”
Nonsense. Only the American haters speak of President Bush’s alleged “bellicose rhetoric.” The Democrat Party rejected Senator Joseph Lieberman. He was their last chance to remain loyal to the United States. How bad are things going? The vile Noam Chomsky has just endorsed John Kerry:
Voting for Senator Kerry is objectively a traitorous act. Only a fool can be forgiven for doing so. This man stands for the sucking up to the French and the Old Europeans. Kerry essentially gives the French veto power over American foreign policy. In other words, the man has no shame. Today’s Democrat party is a collection of anti-Viet Nam War activists and others who despise their own country. These people will not hesitate to betray America if Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin will offer them a great meal in a fancy French restaurant.posted by: David Thomson on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
I presume that you -again- speak with hyperbolic and completely unfounded rhetoric regarding your statement that:
"Voting for Senator Kerry is objectively a traitorous act."
I do not like Mr. Kerry, I think he's a stuck up blue blood and is condescending to boot. However I do not see how you can say using any objective measure that voting for Kerry would be treason. Would I remind if your that your extravagent claims do not pass even remotely close to verifiable fact, it only discredits the rest of your claims as well?
Admit it- you have no objective measure to claim that voting for Kerry would be treason.posted by: Oldman on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
"Good analysis and fact finding are the foundation of any successful policy."
Agreed, Mr. Oldman - as is honesty. So you can drop the 'my fellow Republicans' bit, while I still have some respect for you.
Conservative? Sure. But I think that those of us that have watched you come to roost here over the last year - storming aboard with your 'Dean this and Dean that' would be surprised to find you desribe yourself as a Republican.
You can be a proud conservative Democrat if you'd like, no shame in that. But if you want to go, then go.posted by: Art Wellesley on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
\Bel"li*cose`\, a. [Middle English, from Latin "bellum", war] Inclined to war or contention; warlike; pugnacious.
David, when you say that Lieberman was the Democrats' "last chance to remain loyal to the United States," and that a vote for John Kerry is "objectively a traitorous act" -- you conjure up visions of an America where people who disagree with you, David Thomson, are arrested for treason and put on trial.
Is that the America you want?posted by: Scott Forbes on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
I'd like to know the answer to Cheney's question. Just who are these "foreign leaders for Kerry" and what promises has he made them to get their endorsement. Until THAT question is answered it's not too far off the reservation to include the word "treason" and Kerry in the same sentence.
You expect me to believe that Cheney's ONLY way of getting an endorsement is to promise something of value in return?
(Well, okay, if you insist....)
Why not just accept Ockham's Razor: Bush is unpopular among the majority of foreign leaders. He has driven a wedge between the United States and many other countries; no tears would be shed in Bombay, Ottawa, Istanbul, Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Amman, Moscow, Beijing or a dozen other foreign capitals if the voters sent Bush home to Crawford this fall.
So why pretend that Kerry needs to do anything, other than announce he's running against Bush, to receive widespread accolades and international support?
We can debate whether Bush's approach to the War on Terror is getting the job done, even as he alienates the rest of the world... or whether he's recklessly drawing down the goodwill and credit that better American leaders spent 90 years building up. But your premise -- that if other countries like John Kerry, he must be doing something wrong -- just flat-out doesn't make sense.posted by: Scott Forbes on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Why assume that a given national leader's motivation to dislike Bush is personal as opposed to policy driven? The latter would be more likely it seems to me.
Nobody from the countries you mentioned has any particular reason to mourn if the voters sent Kerry back to one of HIS homes,(Washington Beltway or Paris)---or do they.
Since the laws of time and space make Kerry's statement about direct communication from world leaders physically impossible, I would think that you "Ockham's Razor" fans would have a comment about the more likely possibility, that Kerry is a lying sack of excrement.
posted by: Rocketman on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Actually, R, it seems to me that much of the low regard Bush is held in overseas is in fact based as much on personal dislike as on policy differences.
Look, there's no big secret about this -- when Bush is in a room with people he doesn't know well and doesn't agree with he is apt to be something of a boor. Conversely if he likes someone and doesn't care very much about issues in disagreement those issues won't come up much.
This has an impact on American foreign policy. Our relations with Germany right now ought to be close, though strained over Iraq and to a much lesser extent over economic issues, while our relations with Russia ought to be strained pretty much across the board. But relations are distant with Germany and cordial with Russia because Bush dislikes Gerhard Schroeder and hit it off with Vladimir Putin. Administration policy toward Israel has been interpreted in terms of domestic political strategy and even premillenial theology, but at least as significant is that Bush is personally impressed with Sharon while the Palestinians have no counterpart as an interlocutor.
The small graces that indicate regard and respect among nations -- graces that came naturally to Reagan and with years of hard work to Nixon and the elder Bush -- are out of character for the younger Bush, and the hard, often tedious work foreign policy demands is even more so. In this respect his personality is a major handicap to American foreign policy and as a practical matter much more consequential than his administration's alleged doctrinal preference for "unilateralism."posted by: Zathras on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Personal or policy differences aside, Bush is a political liability to any leader anywhere (with the possible exception of Israel and Mexico). Schroeder won an election in Germany he should have lost by running against Bush. Even if foreign leaders liked Bush, self-interest would say its politically smart to oppose him. Besides, according to DT, one might get a free french dinner from Chirac. Thats why democrats are treasonously supporting Kerry, after all.posted by: TexasToast on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
“In this respect his personality is a major handicap to American foreign policy and as a practical matter much more consequential than his administration's alleged doctrinal preference for "unilateralism."”
President Bush’s personality has little to do with anything. These other national leaders are afraid to confront the widespread pacifism and socialism of their voters. The Old Europeans and many other countries are lazy and unwilling to perform great sacrifices to fight the terrorists.
“Administration policy toward Israel has been interpreted in terms of domestic political strategy and even premillenial theology, but at least as significant is that Bush is personally impressed with Sharon while the Palestinians have no counterpart as an interlocutor.”
Oh for God’s sake, the “premillenial theology” argument is pure bovine excrement. No, President Bush rightfully sees that the Israelis are mostly the good guys being attacked by the scum of the earth. There is no hope for peace in the Middle East until the Palestinian militants are either killed or jailed. Is President suppose to be “impressed” by the murdering Palestinian leadership?posted by: David Thomson on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Zathras. Your analysis is interesting. "Look, there's no big secret about this"... evidently your sources of information about the President's interpersonal skills are extraordinary. No offense meant but I'd appreciate it if you'd share them with the rest of us
"... Our relations with Germany right now ought to be close,... relations are distant with Germany and cordial with Russia because Bush dislikes Gerhard Schroeder and hit it off with Vladimir Putin"...
Again, no offense pal, but these are some pretty subjective judgements for someone not in the immediate circle. Yes I've read press reports that Bush, like the rest of us, likes some and not others, but that by no means "proves" that personal animus drives his or the foreign leaders official attitude. I'm not totally closed to the above possibilities because believe me when I tell you I could care less what France, Germany et. al think of our President.
I would hope, however that both Bush and various foreign leaders have a little more maturity than your thesis suggests.
Let's hope I'm right because if personality is all that important, I sure don't see any hope for the future with Kerry as the alternative.posted by: Rocketman on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Couldn't have said it better myself. It's a lot easier to explain domestic problems by blaming the US than accept responsibility for your own failures. Which is why our problems with foreign leaders are probably not driven by personality.
posted by: Rocketman on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Dear Mr. Wellesley,
You are perhaps right to call me on my ambivalent relationship with the Party that in my heart I still think of myself as one of. Part of the cognitive dissonance involves that on the ground, I am still well recieved and supported by the Republicans that I consort with. However, the leadership has grown far apart from the true values that once animated core Republican beliefs.
In addition, I am not beholden to Dean. Indeed, on this site from Iowa I wrote strongly of the groundswell of support for Kerry and Edwards. I also spoke of it in the Dean campaign office, which did not endear me with the Deaniacs. And far before Dean started firing advisers, I was criticizing his really awful ads and stating here and elsewhere that Dean was listening to the wrong advisers.
I will shill for no one, and still feel vastly uncomfortable with Democratic crowds. Their values are still siginificantly different from mine, like many are in denial about how much far Kerry is behind in the race and that Social Security and Immigration can keep on going as it was.
Truth to tell, I'd happily vote for Bush if he fired most of his cabinet and started doing things more competently. He wouldn't even have to admit he was wrong, just change his direction and focus and stop lying so stupidly. That would bring me back into the fold.
I just don't think this is a very strong possibility, hence I am forced into an alliance of convenience with Democrats whom I may disagree strongly regarding policy but are the lesser of two evils than the current direction of Republican political evolution.
An umcomfortable place to be in, but in my heart and with the people that matter in my life I still cherish Republican values and ideas. I just don't think they're being represented effectively any more by this Administration.posted by: Oldman on 03.22.04 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Post a Comment: