Sunday, March 19, 2006

Killings in Iraq

The US should commit to stay in Iraq until civil order is restored to prevent further killings of innocent Iraqis by insurgents. The US clearly seeks an exit, perhaps by defining a role for Iran, but to walk away now, prior to dealing with the current wave of sectarian violence, would be a crime. Past US policy mistakes are irrelevant sunk costs - the catastrophic decline in civil order Iraq over the past 100 days must be halted.

In the case described by the video in the first link above, US forces stood aside and refused to help Shia under attack for a period covering several weeks. A horrific bout of killings then occurred. Young Ibrahim Sa'ad Al-Jabouri was made to stand and watch his family murdered. The Mayor desparately sought US help only to be denied it. Eventually he was forced to seek help from Iranian militia but that didn't either didn't help or came too late. This pattern is being repeated across large parts of the country. In the US attention focuses only on devising an exit strategy.

Tom Ricks, The Washington Post's military correspondent, opposes the war but strongly opposes a precipitous US withdrawal:
In March 2003 he thought the invasion was a strategic mistake in the struggle against terrorism. His assessment of subsequent events is the title of his book, coming in September: Fiasco.
Now, however, he thinks that a U.S. withdrawal would leave chaos that might lead to radical Islamists acquiring what they most want — Saudi oil fields and Pakistani nuclear weapons. So America, he thinks, needs a plan to reduce fatalities to two or three a week, then two or three a month.
This is sensible. Substantial investment now needs to be made in restoring civil order in Iraq. Indeed even ignoring strategic considerations, attention should focus on ameliorating the miserable lives ordinary Iraqis are now experiencing. Blog accounts of daily life in Bhagdad are here. They are horrifying, real.


conrad said...

Unless there is a time when the Shiites decide to forgive the Sunnis, then the alternative way to think about it is that the US is simply dragging on the day until civil war comes and the Shiites pay the Sunnis back for all those years of oppression. Personally, I couldn't blame them if they did. In this case, there won't be any point in investing in infrastructure that is going to get destroyed anyway.

If the first of these is going to take a longer time than the amount of time the Americans are going to stay (and looking at the political polls, that presumably isn't a huge amount of time), then they may as well leave tommorow and admit that they were wrong.

hc said...

Conrad in the item linked it is Sunni killing Shia. Throwing your hands up and saying it was a big mistake will hardly do much for the people of Iraq. Look at that first link and understand. The local Shia wanted help from the Americans. Are you saying - let them fight it out and see who wins?

Even if the US were wrong to intervene - to leave now would be terrible.

conrad said...

I'm not saying let them fight it out or win, I'm just pointing out the practical reality that :

1) There is a limited amount of time the US is going to stay due to political problems. For example, one can imagine that when the next recession comes around, the average US citizen isn't going to be to pleased about losing zillions of dollars in a country where they think the average citizen hates them (which probably isn't true) and they can't point to on map. One can also imagine that the average soon to retire baby-boomer, is going to think that all that money is better spent on them than those in Iraq.


2) If this amount of time happens to be less than the amount of time neccesary to stabilize Iraq, then it seems that leaving now is going to lead to the same conclusion as the next year, the year after etc.

Given that the estimates seem to have blown out (now people are saying "20 years"), I find it hard to imagine that the US is going to be around that long, particularily given their current economic problems at home (CAD correcting, baby-boomers retiring).

If I'm correct about the above, then the US is just dragging the inevitable on.