Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Facts Tore The Policy To Shreds

I've been too busy to write much lately, but I have managed to do some reading. One of the most compelling pieces I have read recently comes from Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times. I don't agree with everything he says, but he does make a lot of sense. I'll give you an excerpt or six, and I invite you to read the whole column if you are so inclined.
Tony Blair went to Washington last week and won the headline he craved: “US/UK split on Iraq”. The split, over the role of Iran, Syria and Israel in the West’s exit from Iraq, was meaningless since they have no role. That did not matter. In this war of imaginings, appearance is all. Blair needed the headline for home consumption and Bush gave it to him.

Blair’s trip was occasioned by the publication of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group. This report is very bad — and very good. Its relevance to the conflict tearing apart Iraq is minimal. The group visited Baghdad for just four days and never dared to leave the green zone, let alone attempt to understand the conflict on the ground.
The proposal to switch “control” of the Iraqi police from the Shi’ite interior ministry to the defence ministry is mad. There is no control of the police while the defence ministry, still a residual American front operation, is run by a Sunni. As for suggesting that the leaders of Syria and Iran come to America’s rescue, Baker/Hamilton seems to inhabit a different planet.

Why should these leaders rescue an American president who seeks their downfall when they are so enjoying his discomfiture. In a gesture of pure farce, George Bush replied that Iran would be allowed to help him but only if it stopped enriching uranium. Since when has a drowning man demanded that his rescuer pay for the privilege?
There is no government in Iraq, not the Americans or the British or the Iranians or the Syrians, let alone Nouri al-Maliki’s regime, which barely rules its own office. The concept of Iraq as a coherent political entity offering Washington choices of action is nonsensical. The Americans can stay squatting in 55 bases across Iraq or leave them. Those are the only options.
To tell Iraqis they are “better off” than under Saddam Hussein, when 4,000 a month are being killed and water, electricity, health, education and domestic security are incomparably worse is absurd, as Kofi Annan pointed out last month. Reports from Baghdad indicate that it is virtually cut off, road movement depending on safe corridors (or massive amounts of armour).
The naive belief that US power could create a beacon of secular democracy in the Islamic world may have been confined to the salons of neocon Washington and London, to whom war seemed like an intellectual party game. Yet it captured the leaders of two world governments and led them to their doom.
America has learnt what Britain learnt at Suez. The intoxicating vapour of imperial intervention soon turns sour. Henry Kissinger told the White House that “Afghanistan is not enough; they want to humiliate us; we need to humiliate them”. Bragging is not doing. Before the invasion the White House could joke to Blair’s head of MI6 that it was “fixing the facts around the policy”. But the facts tore the policy to shreds.
You have been reading excerpts from "A realistic America is the silver lining of this great Iraqi darkness", by Simon Jenkins. Click here to read the entire piece.

As usual, your comments are most welcome.