Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Iraq: will we ever get out?

We might, if only because of the cowardly way our Government is keeping its head down and hoping that no-one really notices when we do. But our coalition partners have a bigger commitment, and face a bigger loss of prestige from admitting the failure of the enterprise. Then there's Afghanistan, for somewhat different reasons another disaster; we're almost certainly trapped there for the long term.

The purpose of this post is to draw attention to this article in the New York Review of Books which looks at the reasons things went so badly wrong, and the policies of the three main candidates seeking the US Presidency; it is well worth reading.


Political Umpire said...

Good post, pretty much in accordance with my views as blogged ad nauseam. Trouble is, unlike Vietnam, for example, there's no-one to lose to and do business with as it were. Thirty odd years after the war, the American dollar has made great inroads in Vietnam where the military failed; the same won't apply in Iraq if as appears likely it simply slides into being failed state.com

Stephen said...

Not only is there no-one to lose to, there's no-one identifiable to defeat either. I can't see any honourable solution and I doubt if many can. It feels as though the consequences of pulling out at this point are likely to be even worse than staying put, but if the situation doesn't improve we are just wasting more lives to no end.

Sooner or later we will come out. Our forces are clearly overstretched fighting two wars and even the Government wouldn't dare countenance conscription. Gordon Brown seems to have decided that he prefers the short-term popularity an early withdrawal might bring, so we're half-way out already, truth be told.

Political Umpire said...

Thing is as we've both said the reasons for invasion and the mistakes made about the aftermath are one thing, but essentially beside the point. The point is What Happens Next. And I agree neither staying nor leaving seems very promising.

Let us not exaggerate, however. The Kurdish north has stayed stable - but that's as it was since 1991, when in the aftermath of Gulf War I Saddam effectively left the place alone as his reduced power made him cut his losses. Other areas of the country, primarily the rural ones, haven't had much factional fighting. It is the cities which have been a disaster.

The one place where the coalition has had some success is Anbar Province. There the locals got fed up with outside terrorists causing mayhem, so they joined together and drove them out. That has, however, left an uneasy peace, since there's no guarantee they will stay united after having achieved that aim.

Elsewhere, however, the chances of a similar unifying cause seem slim, given that much of the fighting is not foreign terrorists but between different Iraqi factions who aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and, worse, the foreign interference is coming directly from Iran.