Friday, June 10, 2005

Clark on Iraq

Gen. Wesley Clark offers some thoughts on the Bush Administration's handling of the situation in Iraq (click above to link to the article). Clark will be in Manchester this weekend for the Manchester Democratic Committee's Flag Day fundraiser.

I'm not sure I agree with Clark on the need to withdraw huge numbers of troops in the very short term. My concern is that if the withdrawal is conducted in a frenetic and haphazard manner, a vaccum will ensue, and the country will degenerate into an even more chaotic state.

Other than that, Clark makes sense. The U.S> has failed to effectively engage not only other nations in the region, but also our traditional allies, and as a result, we are caught in a situation where we lack the military, economic and political tools to effectively and quickly stabilize the situation in Iraq. It's time for the Administration to forget about the talk-radio wingdings and their fear of "nation building"; suck it up, engage the world community, and finish the damn job in a constructive and cooperative manner, one that not only allows our troops to come home, but gives the people of Iraq a country that is not only free from a thug like Saddam, but also has the tools needed to be a thriving member of the international community.

Comments:
Mr. Sullivan,

I'd like to suggest two points in favor of Gen, Clark's position on "withdrawing large numbers of troops, quickly".

1. It has been suggested (don't have a link handy but can find one) that our troop presence is actually counter-productive when it comes to ending violence. A large part of the reason for the insurgency is resentment over the occupation. Therefore, end the occupation and you end (or at least diminish to the ability of the Iraqis to deal with) the insurgency. Many Iraqis (and many Americans, including this one) believe that the intent of the Bush Administration is for a large-scale quasi-permanent military presence in Iraq. Showing this to be false will kick the wheels out from under the hard-liners.

2. There isn't much of an incentive for the Iraqis to take over security and the risks thereof if they know we will do it indefinitely. At some point, you have to say, "be ready by x date" or things will continue to drag along. This is true in lots of other walks of life, by the way, a deadline creates a focus that gets things moving faster.

Your thoughts or comments? I would like to support your candidacy but to be honest, the Iraq War is a BIG issue for me, particularly having draft-age relatives (whom the Bush war machine will get their hands on over my dead body). I realize that the President has left us in a heck of a mess and that there are no easy solutions, but I do appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you.

Jason B.
 
Jason:

Your point on the American troop presence having a counterproductive effect are well taken. The fact that this is seen by Iraqis (and indeed the rest of the world community) as a strictly American operation does not play in our favor. It's a large part of the reason why people like John Kerry, Joe Biden, et al had it right when they said that any effort to dislodge Saddam Hussein had to be a genuine international effort if it was to have legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi public and the world community.

You might want to take a look at the speech Biden gave to the Brookings Institute last week. One of the critical points he touches on is the need to internationalize the reconstruction process. The French, Jordanians and Egyptians have all offered to assist in getting Iraq's domestic security apparatus up and running, yet the Bush Administration, in yet another act of hubris, has let the offers sit on the table. That's just plain idiotic. If we can engage our allies in an effort to internationalize the process, to rebuild Iraq, to create a climate where a US troop pressence is no longer essential, then for god's sake, let's do so.
 
Well, I agree, and I suspect that a large part of the reason for the Administration's reluctance is an unwillingness to divide up the spoils.

Thanks for responding, and have a great holiday weekend.

Jason
 
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