Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Last Exit From Iraq - Joel Rayburn

This account of the earlier British adventures in Iraq points to striking parallels in the present situation, not least the intense search for a rationale to leave Iraq. The author ends by pointing to Britiain's early departure as a cautionary lesson. He asserts that had Britain stayed longer it might have prevented the militarization of Iraqi politics under the Sunni dominance, but it is by no means clear that the U.S. has the leverage to prevent a rather similar outcome today with only the difference that the dominant community will be the Shi'a. To claim that by exiting Iraq the U.S. will leave behind a country arguably more threatening to U.S. interests than it was before the U.S. invaded, does not mitigate the fact that by staying the U.S. also foments developments that are arguably just as threatening to U.S. interests, not least the enlivening of al-Qaeda wannabes. This is the nature of the horrid situation that the monumentally stupid decision to invade Iraq has created.
Foreign Affairs - The Last Exit From Iraq - Joel Rayburn: "Like the U.S.-led coalition today, the United Kingdom of the 1920s began its Iraq project by pledging long-term support for Iraq's defense and development. In the ensuing years, the British encountered a set of problems similar to those facing today's coalition: deep ethnic and sectarian divisions, an internal Iraqi power struggle, the infiltration of Salafi terrorists from neighboring countries, active insurgencies carried on by minority groups, and hostile regional powers across the borders. And once again, these seemingly intractable problems and their associated violence have spawned an intense movement to end the occupation of Iraq -- to quit Mesopotamia.
Washington thus now finds itself facing roughly the same question that London faced between 1925 and 1927: Should it leave Iraq, or continue until its project there has truly fulfilled its aims? In the British case, both sides of the debate -- the Quit Mesopotamia critics and the Conservative officials who minimized Iraq's problems -- apparently believed that the United Kingdom could leave Iraq without repercussions, regardless of whether the mandate had actually served its purpose. They came to assume that an independent Iraq would somehow muddle along -- and that if it did not, the consequences would not affect the British.
Accordingly, the Conservative government succumbed to the political and media pressure to pull out. After 1925, as British officials continued to pay lip service to the original goals of the mandate, they privately began looking for ways to withdraw early, even though many of them recognized that chaos would ensue. To avoid a similar result today, the U.S. government and its allies must confront what the United Kingdom's premature withdrawal achieved: n"

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