Zakaria on Iraq: Time to Leave

(Guest Post from Big Tent Democrat)

Another cut and runner:

It is time to call an end to the tests, the six-month trials, the waiting and watching, and to recognize that the Iraqi government has failed. It is also time to face the terrible reality that America's mission in Iraq has substantially failed.

Unfortunately, and tragically, there can be no doubt this is true. There is no hope for success as promised by the Bush Administration. There never was. But it is worse than that. We now have an unmitigated disaster. The action to take now is to deal with this fact and start working on the consequences of this monumental Bush failure. The time for thinking about what to do starts November 8, after the elections. why? Because Bush, supported blindly by the Rubber Stamp Republicans, will not deal with reality. And if the Republicans hold both houses of Congress next January, then the planning can't start until 2009 at the earliest. Because Bush won't do it and congressional Republicans will not either.

Zakaria writes:

More waiting is unlikely to turn things around, nor will more troops. I understand the impulse of those who want to send in more forces to secure the country. I urged just such a policy from the first week of the occupation. But today we are where we are. Over the past three years the violence has spread and is now franchised down to neighborhoods with local gangs in control. In many areas, local militias are not even controlled by their supposed political masters in Baghdad. In this kind of decentralized street fighting, 10,000 or 20,000 more troops in Baghdad will not have more than a temporary effect. Nor will new American policies help.

. . . Iraq is now in a civil war. Thirty thousand Iraqis have died there in the past three years, more than in many other conflicts widely recognized as civil wars. The number of internal refugees, mostly Sunni victims of ethnic cleansing, has exploded over the past few months, and now exceeds a quarter of a million people. (The Iraqi government says 240,000, but this doesn't include Iraqis who have fled abroad or who may not have registered their move with the government.) The number of attacks on Shiite mosques increases every week: there have been 69 such attacks since February, compared with 80 in the previous two and a half years. And the war is being fought on gruesome new fronts. CBS News's Lara Logan has filed astonishing reports on the Health Ministry, which is run by supporters of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. According to Logan, hospitals in Baghdad and Karbala are systematically killing Sunni patients and then dumping their bodies in mass graves.

But Zakaria will not come to grips with some fundamental failures that came from the start of this Debcle and from the contiuing Bush incompetence:

Iraq's problem is fundamentally political, not military. Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds need a deal that each can live with. Sen. Joseph Biden has outlined an intelligent power-sharing agreement, but what he, or for that matter George Bush, says doesn't matter. Power now rests with the locals. And the Shiites and the Sunnis have little trust in one another. At this point, neither believes that any deal would be honored once the United States left, which means that each is keeping its own militias as an insurance policy. If you were a Shiite, having suffered through a brutal insurgency and an incompetent government, would you give up your weapons? If you were a Sunni, having watched government-allied death squads kill and ethnic-cleanse your people, would you accept a piece of paper that said that this government will now give you one third of Iraq's oil revenues if you disarm?

The reason that the Democrats seem to lack good, concrete suggestions on Iraq is that the Bush administration has actually been pursuing more-sensible policies for more than a year now, trying vainly to reverse many of its errors. But what might well have worked in 2003 is too little, too late in 2006.

The Bush Adminstration has made disastrous decisions in the past 18 months, most notably turning over power to the Shiites BEFORE a political solution was achieved for Iraq. For Zakaria to write that Bush has pursued sensible policies shows how little he understood from the time he supported the war and the premature democratization of Iraq. When he writes "Sen. Joseph Biden has outlined an intelligent power-sharing agreement, but what he, or for that matter George Bush, says doesn't matter. Power now rests with the locals," he ignores how that cae to be. The famous "purple finger moments in January and August 2005" were the final disastrous mistakes in a disastrous, indeed, catastrophic, debacle.

We will suffer from this catastrophe for decades to come. We need to start working on this now. But we won't. Not as long as Bush and the Republicans are in charge. They will not deal with the reality. And it does not matter what Zakaria, me, or anyone writes. Only voting the Republicans out will start the necessary change. It is that simple.

< A Literary Conflict of Interest | Counting the Wounded in Iraq >
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  • Re: Zakaria on Iraq: Time to Leave (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 12:07:36 AM EST
    I think you misread the pursue sensible policies part. He was saying if Bush had done in 2003 what he is currently doing now, Iraq would be in a different place. He never says Iraq never had a chance to work, just that the administration didn't really get into the game til it was way too late. Alot of should've/could've/ would'ves basically but in a country where the majority of people supported this debacle, better to wake up now than not at all.

    Re: Zakaria on Iraq: Time to Leave (none / 0) (#3)
    by soccerdad on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 06:43:10 AM EST
    But the establishment of failed states is their policy - see Lebanon That will be their goal in Iran create a failed state. They would prefer a client state but choice 2 is a failed state.

    Re: Zakaria on Iraq: Time to Leave (none / 0) (#2)
    by profmarcus on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 08:21:26 AM EST
    have you ever considered the possibility that iraq isn't a failure and is, instead, an unqualified success...? if bush and his cohorts are truly trying to CREATE the conditions for endless war, i can think of no better way than to turn iraq into a nightmarish hole of violence and chaos that further inflames islamic hatred of the "great satan..." i, for one, am very tired of seeing the bush administration characterized as incompetent... if you put the right frame around it, i think they are FAR from incompetent... think about it... http://takeitpersonally.blogspot.com/

    Re: Zakaria on Iraq: Time to Leave (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 08:21:26 AM EST
    The biggest reason why the Iraq adventure has failed is because it has no moral underpinnings: it was never justifiable and never will be. There will be no possible resolution until the U.S. admits that it made a grievous error, not just in intelligence, but in the untold damage caused to Iraqi society and infrastructure. The half-hearted (or worse) approaches to "reconstruction" only make it worse. Compared to this devastation the number of U.S. killed and wounded is barely a blimp on the radar. Of course each one is a tragedy. But the fact remains that the U.S. is culturally unable to see the effects of its actions from the other side. No wonder the U.S. is accused of "narcissistic jingoism".

    Re: Zakaria on Iraq: Time to Leave (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 08:21:26 AM EST
    I saw this and thought it was a very interesting companion piece to this post: From Taegan Goddard The New York Times notes that Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria took part in a "shadowy, secret Washington meeting" called by former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to outline "a strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and the Middle East in the aftermath of 9/11." "While members of policy research groups often dispense advice to administration officials, journalists do not typically attend secret meetings or help compile government reports." Zakaria even signed a confidentiality agreement "not to discuss what happened." The meeting was first described in Bob Woodward's State of Denial.

    Re: Zakaria on Iraq: Time to Leave (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 01:31:23 PM EST
    Zakaria is a smart guy, obviously, but in the clutch, when it matters, he is a minor league intellect. He is only NOW finally coming to grips with what millions of us have been saying for years. Some of us in this country have actually lived through trauma and violence and abuse, have actually been on the ground with a gun at their back, known what it was like to think you're going to die any day. Others of us simply have used our free American minds enough to educate ourselves and possess a vital imaginative ability. And we knew from the start that blithely going to war on false premises was akin to simply beating someone for no reason. Nothing good comes of unwarranted and unprovoked individual violence, nor of the same thing on a scale millions of times larger perpetrated by the most powerful military in the world. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We did precisely the opposite. Shame.