8/19/2005

The Blogging of the President: The End of Iraq - What can WE do ?

The last piece of ugly news is that none of this is going to happen until 2009. There is no political configuration that will come out of the 2006 elections which will give the Democrats both houses of Congress.. Without both houses, and a party discipline to match it - the present executive's paralysis on Iraq will continue..
So what can ordinary people do? ..we have been reduced to two buttons. One is to push for complete withdrawal now. I don't like this course, however, the other option is to make matters worse by giving Bush billions to spend on turning young Americans into little white crosses. Since we, as consumers of politics, have only two options "YES!" and "NO!", we must push "NO!" as loudly and repeatedly as possible..


The End of Iraq

These two parts now combine into one: the disintegration of Iraq leads to a bestiary of unpleasant out comes - a failed state Iraq in the mode of Columbia, a perpetual civil war in the mode of Sudan, a balkanized Iraq in the mode of Yugoslavia, an Iraq carved up into foreign zones of influence a la Congo or Lebanon - none of them acceptable prospects.

And all of them increasingly likely as long as policy makers believe that there is any other task than preventing them. If we do not want a balkanized Iraq, then all available resources must be directed at securing this aim. Not US bases in Iraq, not even the fastest possible withdrawal. Certainly not propping up the US economy with war boom spending.

The global security community - and that includes Russia and China as well as the western powers - has to realize that this outcome is in no one's interest, despite the temporary political advantage that might accrue to Russia and China if the West were to suffer a severe oil shock induced recession.

Once this is recognized, a series of very unpalatable decisions become forced. The first is that the Saudi kingdom is going to have to accept that its security needs must trump domestic political considerations. A large fraction of the US raison d'etre in Iraq was the need to get Americans off of "holy sand". The Saudi's - while they are temporarily profitting from the high oil prices that the US expedition into the dry hole of Iraq is producing - would not benefit from any of the post-Iraq scenarios outlined above. Either they would have to be an occupying power - which the desert kingdom does not have the man power for in its present political configuration - or they would be perpetually threatened by whatever radicalizing forces a post-Iraq fertile crescent would breed.

The next unpleasant realization is that the United States, and its public, must leave the mode that where resources come from is some one elses business. We elect the president to be "First Minister of the Oilfield", and to do what he has to do to secure it. The post-consumer America is forced, because there is no longer an ever growing river of oil to consume. Since we are going to be out of Iraq, and we have no real ability to influence the post-occupation Iraq - the best we can do, as noted, is to work to assure that there still will be an Iraq - we are going to ahve to accept that a post-occupation Iraq has every incentive to keep oil prices very high, so that it can secure revenue, put its own house in order, and then secure investment to exploit more of its oil - which gets more valuable every day that the Saudi light production reaches its peak. In 20 years, any Iraqi regime will have to aim for the position of being the kingpin supplier of light sweet crude. Hence, no hurry to get it out of the ground.

The next unpleasant reality is that the present "flip them the bird" foreign policy of George Bush is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The US cannot even hold Iraq together in its present state. This means we need allies, and, as General Wesley Clark has been pointing out since he was NATO commander, the way to secure allies is to make it so they are invested in success. Since success here is defined as "not allowing a catastrophic political black hole to form in the heart of the Persian Gulf", just about every sane nation has a reason to participate and make the mission a success.

The last piece of ugly news is that none of this is going to happen until 2009. There is no political configuration that will come out of the 2006 elections which will give the Democrats both houses of Congress in the present form of the party. Without both houses, and a party discipline to match it - the present executive's paralysis on Iraq will continue, and indeed, even accelerate as it tries to engage in a modified limited withdrawal of troops, and somehow wedge an expensive white elephant base out of it.

Thus the hard headed hawk might not like it, but the only viable option now is to direct our attention away from putting down the Saddamists, and, instead, finding a way to force the Kurds and Shia factions to form a working polity. Because it is the fact that the US is keeping the pressure of reality off the backs of the Iraqi government which is giving the factions the luxury of fighting amongst themselves, just as the Kurds took advantage of the northern US no fly zone to hold a civil war.

So what can ordinary people do? As noted, at the present we have been reduced to two buttons. One is to push for complete withdrawal now. I don't like this course, however, the other option is to make matters worse by giving Bush billions to spend on turning young Americans into little white crosses. Since we, as consumers of politics, have only two options "YES!" and "NO!", we must push "NO!" as loudly and repeatedly as possible - without falling into the trap of making unrealistic pollyanna predictions about what this means.

The Blogging of the President

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