Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's Even Worse than Josh Said

by Ken Houghton

Via Duncan Black and Josh Marshall comes the Washington Post's "Is Iraq Lost?" letters.

Josh , trying to be evenhanded, notes:
In fairness, WaPo also quotes two others saying, in effect, "not yet." But both also suggest that the answer turns on just how much in the way of resources the U.S. is willing to sink into the conflict, which -- given the obvious limits on such resources -- is just a way of ducking the question.

So who are the two "ducking the question"? One, Paul Rieckhoff, was an Army platoon leader in Baghdad in the early part of the war. (That is, he hasn't been there since 2004.) The other,Kanan Makiya, is cited as an "Iraqi scholar who supported the U.S. invasion." Their statements in full:
Not yet Some people will say the Yankees have lost if they're down in the eighth inning. They'll get in their cars and leave. But some people will stay until the last pitch. It's not lost until we collectively decide it's lost. The question is, how much are you willing to pay? [Reickhoff]

It's up to you The Iraq war is lost or won if the American people choose to lose or win it. With the way things are going at the moment, I perfectly understand why they might choose to give up on the war. But that is not because the war is inherently unwinnable by a country as great and rich and powerful as the United States. [Makiya]

Reickhoff, in short, was there when the Mission was Accomplished—and then some. But now it's the bottom of the eighth and the Yankees are losing by several runs. The last time we saw this scenario, they brought in Mariano Rivera. Which that worked really well.

And Iraq scholar Makiya? Turns out he was born in Iraq, but doesn't live there and hasn't for a long time. (He's a professor at Brandeis and founder of The Iraq Foundation back in 1991.)

So he's not exactly an unbiased observer. In fact, he wrote this piece for the Guardian in February of 2003:
The United States is on the verge of committing itself to a post-Saddam plan for a military government in Baghdad with Americans appointed to head Iraqi ministries, and American soldiers to patrol the streets of Iraqi cities.

The plan, as dictated to the Iraqi opposition in Ankara last week by a United States-led delegation, further envisages the appointment by the US of an unknown number of Iraqi quislings palatable to the Arab countries of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia as a council of advisers to this military government.

The plan reverses a decade-long moral and financial commitment by the US to the Iraqi opposition, and is guaranteed to turn that opposition from the close ally it has always been during the 1990s into an opponent of the United States on the streets of Baghdad the day after liberation.

The bureaucrats responsible for this plan are drawn from those parts of the administration that have always been hostile to the idea of a US-assisted democratic transformation of Iraq, a transformation that necessarily includes such radical departures for the region as the de-Baathification of Iraq (along the lines of the de-Nazification of post-war Germany), and the redesign of the Iraqi state as a non-ethnically based federal and democratic entity.

The plan is the brainchild of the would-be coup-makers of the CIA and their allies in the Department of State, who now wish to achieve through direct American control over the people of Iraq what they so dismally failed to achieve on the ground since 1991.

I couldn't have said it better myself. However, I long ago realized that, in the Augean stables, there may be a chance of finding a pony, but it's not good odds, even if you beat the first set, that it's still a live one.

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