Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Iraq's future

Responding to some of Juan Cole's recent remarks about the dim prospects in Iraq, in which he regrettably concludes that the resistance is likely to grow stronger and the US presence is not likely to recede, Dave Wearing writes,

If the conflict in Iraq is not for the most part a civil war, a nihilistic Al Qaeda killing spree or a power-grab by Ba'athists, but instead a conflict between US troops and an array of resisting forces rooted in the population, then the removal of one side from the battlefield would surely go some significant way to ending the bloodshed. If, as Cole argues, the resistance relies on a deep reservoir of popular support, and that support is fed by animosity to the US forces, does it not follow that the removal of the US would help to drain that reservoir?

A Muslim peacekeeping force under the command of the UN (something which has already been proposed) comprising Sunni and Shia troops and answering to the General Assembly, not the Security Council, could maximise the beneficial effect a US withdrawal would have for internal security. Such a force would be far more acceptable to the population, leaving any remaining belligerent forces isolated and easier to deal with. Its clear that many Iraqis are attacking Americans, not because Muslim Arabs are pathologically violent, but because they are enraged at being occupied by the country that backed Saddam, killed half a million of their children with sanctions and is now in the process of wrecking their homeland. After a US withdrawal, Iraq would still have a serious security problem, but one that would have been downgraded from a full scale guerrilla war to a terrorist threat from an isolated minority. UN troops would therefore not be entering a "meat grinder."

Iraqis could then spend some of their efforts looking to the future. After fresh elections, this time held under UN observation, a new government could move to create the prosperity within which a stable democratic society can thrive. To do this it would need the profits of oil sales to improve infrastructure and living standards. National debt would therefore have to be cancelled and US imposed privatisation schemes abandoned. In addition, natural justice demands that substantial reparations be paid by the nations that backed Saddam and that devastated the country with sanctions and bombing. Bringing these elements together would mean that Iraq could face the future with a degree of confidence.

Is this scenario realistic? Will powerful elites and nation states allow such a solution to be taken forward? In light of the catastrophe that is the US occupation its not hard to foresee in the short term the withdrawal of what elite support remains for the adventure. A solution similar to that described above may come to be seen as the only realistic one for arresting Iraq's descent into hell, something the global economy can ill afford. But western populations should not sit around hoping that elites will do the right thing, or that whatever suits elite interests might one day happily coincide with what is the right thing to do. To effect these solutions the measure taken to bring down Apartheid, free India, win the vote, end segregation, secure labour rights and score countless other victories should be repeated on an enormous scale, forcing governments to act. The US is already all but defeated in Iraq. With assistance from western populations that defeat could be turned into a victory for the Iraq people, and for the world as a whole. If that victory is to be won, then it is for us to take the action required in order to achieve it.
I agree completely. It's one thing to lament what's going on in Iraq, but quite another to throw one's hands up and say that there's not much we can do about it.

Tough. It's going to take a lot of effort to forge a solution out of the rubble that exists now, but that's where efforts need to be addressed. The status quo in Iraq needs to change, and the first thing that has to happen is that the political process needs to be wrenched from out of the hands of the US and its lackeys. Once this is done, a whole slew of new options might present themselves.

I may be sounding a bit like Presidential candidate John Kerry here, but I truly think that if the Americans were to renounce their imperial designs and indicate a willingness to withdraw within a few months, the rest of the world would be able to hammer together some kind of solution, at least one that is better than the chaos and violence currently on display. Right now, the onus is on Americans to get their government to pull out, as quickly as possible.