Tuesday, July 11, 2006

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The State Department is really hard up

The Bush administration's foreign policy has absorbed a number of whacksfrom the commentariat as of late.

Here's more fodder: I'll be in Germany for the rest of this week as part of a State Department speaker program that brings U.S. experts overseas to speak to German expert audiences on such topics as economics, trade and global affairs.

Blogging will likely be intermittent for the rest of the week.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Discussion topic amongst yourselves: what will Iraq look like a year from now?

posted by Dan on 07.11.06 at 11:47 AM


When you get back, tell us what the Germans think of our foreign policy!

posted by: Anderson on 07.11.06 at 11:47 AM [permalink]

eine gute reise!

posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 07.11.06 at 11:47 AM [permalink]

Oh, dear. The State Department conspiracy to undermine the President's foreign policy goes public.

I'm guessing that most of Dan's readers would rather not think about what Iraq will look like a year from now. There are people in the White House and Pentagon, actually, who have refused to entertain that question at all since about June of 2003.

I make no predictions. Certainly things do not look good or promising now. We might, though, think some about the question of exhaustion in nations suffering acute civil strife. It was exhaustion as much as anything that brought the Balkan wars to a close, or at least to a protracted pause, by 2000. Central American civil wars petered out some ten years earlier for the same reason. An optimistic view of Iraq might take into account the cumulative trauma of Saddam's rule, his wars, the sanctions of the 1990s, and the violence since 2003 and see a population too exhausted to sustain continued civil strife at current levels for much longer.

The optimistic view, of course, may be wrong. If you believe wars are like fires, requiring fuel -- weapons, money, idle young men, rigid ideologies or at least ideas about religion or societal order -- to keep burning, well, there is still a lot of fuel in Iraq, and (here is the really pessimistic view) even more in the countries with which it shares borders. Other civil wars -- including those like Colombia's and Sri Lanka's and Lebanon's -- have gone on long after anyone could see that victory was out of reach for any of the contending parties. Others -- Russia's, China's, Vietnam's -- went on for many years and ended not with a peace of exhaustion but with the annihilation of the losing side. In Iraq, it could be that the only people exhausted enough to wish an end to violence are the women, the children, the old, the crippled, the peacable, who would never have started fighting in the first place.

So I could guess, but I won't. I will say I don't see how fighting on a large scale stops if the current government collapses, but it may not even if the government sustains itself for another year, or two, or five. There is little for any Iraqis to gain by continuing the current state of affairs, and even some of the most determined fighters must recognize that truth.

Or not.

posted by: Zathras on 07.11.06 at 11:47 AM [permalink]

I say it will look terrible, horrible, anarchy, dictatorship! The blood will flow like wine.

Why do I say these horrible things?

Because I am sure that whatever I predict about Iraq will be utterly wrong.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 07.11.06 at 11:47 AM [permalink]

Iraq will look a lot like it does today...open civil war, murder, mayhem....that is if we spend another 100 billion and 700 plus deaths and 4000 casualties. IF WE DONT IT WILL LOOK EVEN WORSE.

And to think those fools in "old europe" doubt the the wisdom of operation iraqi freedom!!!!

posted by: centrist on 07.11.06 at 11:47 AM [permalink]

Iraq will be in some form of civil war or another, awaiting the inevitable partition into three states.

When the Kurds get their own state the Turks will go crazy, and then..........

Bad news on all front.

Be careful what you wish for..........

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 07.11.06 at 11:47 AM [permalink]

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