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Ending the Operation Freedom
Commentators miss a detail in the Iraqi militant’s interview aired by Al Jazeera. He demands recognition of the guerilla groups as sole representatives of Iraqi people, thus evidently a guerilla himself. He also demands, however, the return of Baath and Saddam’s armed forces. Guerillas are now integrated in the leftovers of the Baathist army and willing to use the Baath as their political front. Saddam’s dictatorship was secular. The new military rule will be religious. The sooner the US would reestablish the Baathist army, the less fundamentalist it will emerge.
The guerillas agree to the Baathist leadership because they recognize that no other military group is capable of subduing Iraqi violence, and that no other group would be acceptable to all other groups. The US attempts to foster such group amenable to all strata are futile.
The Baathist methods of counter-insurgence are also the only viable. Humanism, democracy, and due process are meaningless words in Iraqi milieu. If the US wants the respect of Muslims, it must crash the insurgency with mass arrests, tortures, wholesale executions, razing of the guerilla strongholds, and countering anti-US demonstrations with deadly fire. Short of that, continuing American presence in Iraq worsens the US reputation.
In order to develop a solution, a few things should be recognized. Only affluent countries accept wasteful liberal democracy; poor countries opt for the cheap safety of totalitarism. The US cannot democratize Iraq at will. Nor could the US govern and police Iraq indefinitely. The only viable successor would be a military ruler who either suppresses the religious and nationalist movements as Saddam did or succumb to them. The US is concerned with three things in Iraq: nuclear non-proliferation, absence of guerilla training camps and other infrastructure, and uninterrupted oil supply. The US should embark on a short and successful offensive, annihilate the guerilla camps, raze some neighborhoods and exhibit other acts of useful cruelty. Then return the Baathists under some other name to power, have them sign a declaration on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and reject international terrorism, and go home.
Another option is to dismantle Iraq. There is no such state, anyway. Historical borders are not incidental but reflect actual balance of power. Iraq is an artificial creation of the colonial powers. Give part of Iraq to Iran in exchange for the abandoning the nuclear program, and divide the rest between Saudi Arabia and Turkey or Kurdistan.
Machiavelli was only partially right saying that free people cannot be conquered. It takes generations for people to get used to being governed. Societal organization is cultural phenomena not learned in a year. Tribal entities of Iraq won’t submit to central power. One possibility is tribal self-administration with only nominal central authority. Such is the way Pakistan deals with Peshavar. If Turkey accepts that role for Kurdistan, good, if not, sealing off the troublesome region is the only remaining possibility.
And fire that fellow in the State Department who called the US policy in Iraq stupid. He betrayed the American troops fighting and dying in Iraq that same day.
About the Author: Obadiah Shoher is a pen name taken for security reasons, and the author’s identity is a closely guarded secret. Shoher was born in the USSR, emigrated, and became a top lawyer before entering politics. He served in several public offices, managed election campaigns, and leads a political party. Shoher wrote dozens of articles and essays on politics, political philosophy, religion, economy, and security matters.