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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

4/23/2004

One Way out of Iraq

While I disagree with a lot of what Jim Henley is saying in his Grand Strategy piece I think this idea has a certain intuitive appeal:
What about Iraq? Bring the major players together in one room - anyone with a constituency. Tell them, "fellas, we're out of here in time for Christmas. Start talking. You've got a chance to make your country something much better than you could have imagined. Or you can turn it into hell on earth. It'll be your doing one way or another." Stop paying non-Iraqis to do work Iraqis can do.
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Ultimately, unless the Americans turn imperialist overnight, the Iraqis are going to have to deal with their country their own way. The heavy lifting, getting rid of Uncle Cuddles has been done. Now the question is whether or not the Iraqis will be able to work it out for themselves. How soon? Pretty damn quick would seem like a good idea and part of that good idea may well be the partition of the country. After all, the Kurds had it worked out even before Uncle Cuddles was sent to the spider hole. As for the Shi'ites there is no particular reason why they should not be given control of the south of Iraq. The fact they might, or might not, turn it into a theocratic hell hole is really up to them. As for the Sunnis in the middle, they have to come to terms with the fact they are not at the top of the heap any longer. Which might take a while. But it will not go any faster because the Americans or the UN or whomever is still in Iraq past Christmas.

The neo-con notion of shaking the Middle East up does not imply outcomes. It is the shaking rather than a particular result which is transforming the region.

It is foolish to expect that Iraq will suddenly be transformed into a suburb of Des Moines. Nor is it necessary. What is necessary is for the Americans, having demonstrated that they are able to topple a nasty regime at will, look to the Iraqis to solve the problem of the peace. After all, unless America was really in this for the oil, that was what the fight was about. The right of the average Iraqi to make his own choices without fear.

But, and it is a huge but, America and her allies would have to reserve the right to pre-emptively strike at any concentration of force, broadly defined, which might now or in the future, pose a threat to the West or other states in the region. Otherwise the fragile state of Iraq, or parts of it, could easily become a seedbed for terrorism which would defeat the puropose of the invasion.