National Strategy in Iraq
If the stated goal of our National Strategy in Iraq was to prevent Saddam from building WMDs and bring open and democratic governance to the Middle East we failed in the biggest possible way. If that was the intention, we tried to solve a non-military problem with a military solution and in the process created a failed state and have further destabilized one of the most volatile regions on the planet.
There are some other possible National Strategies that have been very successful however. We needed to find a semi-permanent base in the Middle East to transfer US troops. Our bases in Saudi Arabia were creating too many problems for the regime and had outlived their welcome. An even more successful National Strategy would be the radical privatization of public funds through the invasion of Iraq. The invasion and failed state have successfully channeled billions of dollars of public tax money away from “liberal” or “socialist” domestic spending programs like health care, schools and public infrastructure into private military and reconstruction companies. As a National Strategy this one seems to be working well and would provide great motivation to “stay the course.”
Of course, once we return to some for of credible executive administration, they will need to create a plan for this mess. History does present us with many models but few viable solutions. Germany and Japan after World War II were fairly homogeneous cultures and did not have the religious, ethnic, and tribal fault lines that make Iraq so difficult. Somalia, Chad, Sudan are all very similar but as yet have not found resolution and continue years of chaos and bloodshed. The break up of Yugoslavia has a great deal of similarity. That situation was eventually stabilized although I would hope we could prevent Iraq from reaching the depths violence that Yugoslavia went through first.
South Africa seems to have best made the transition from a closed and autocratic society to a more open and democratic one while sitting on severe racial and ethnic fault lines. But this transition appears to have been the result of an almost miraculous serendipity. South Africa’s colonial government needed and wanted to make a nonviolent transition. The opposition leader, Nelson Mandela, had remarkable abilities and foresight and almost unlimited credibility from his supporters that allowed him to work closely with his former oppressors to create a nonviolent transition to an open unified government. Unfortunately I don’t see any of these in Iraq and I don’t see any way to force them.
Partition is probably the eventual result whether we create it or forces itself upon us. How to create partition with some form of balance of power in order to prevent further violence and bloodshed will be a difficult balancing act and requires far more that just a military approach.