mr. zilla goes to town

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Iraqify or bust

Two articles today caught my eye. The first from James Dobbins, former US Special Envoy to Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia and Afghanistan, writing in the very staid Foreign Affairs magazine.

The beginning of wisdom is to recognize that the ongoing war in Iraq is not one that the United States can win. As a result of its initial miscalculations, misdirected planning, and inadequate preparation, Washington has lost the Iraqi people's confidence and consent, and it is unlikely to win them back. Every day that Americans shell Iraqi cities they lose further ground on the central front of Iraqi opinion.

The war can still be won -- but only by moderate Iraqis and only if they concentrate their efforts on gaining the cooperation of neighboring states, securing the support of the broader international community, and quickly reducing their dependence on the United States. Achieving such wide consensus will require turning the U.S.-led occupation into an Iraqi-led, regionally backed, and internationally supported endeavor to attain peace and stability based on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The second in a similar vein, from Robert Malley and Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group in the International Herald Tribune:
In Iraq, the United States is engaged in a war it already has lost while losing sight of a struggle in which it still may prevail. Original objectives - a secular, free-market, democratic government close to the United States and a model for the region - are no longer achievable. Worse, their pursuit has become an obstacle to realization of the most important goal: A stable government viewed by its people as a credible embodiment of national interests and able to preserve the country's territorial integrity.

America's image has suffered too much, the insurgency spread too far and the credibility of the transition process sunk too low for its current approach to succeed. Washington's missteps are now largely viewed as intentional, its statements as hypocritical, and its perceived undeclared agenda - of long-term domination of Iraq - as responsible for the armed opposition's violence.

Is this new meme to spiral outwards from such establishment commentators - that the US effort in Iraq is not just going extremely badly but the beginning of recognition that on the terms it set for itself, the US has actually already lost the war? We'll have to wait and see; there's reason to be skeptical with news last Friday that at least one US government department was engaged in a covert cash for comment arrangement with a right-wing pundit.


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