What will never be the Bush legacy

According to Trudy Rubin, it looks like Iraq is finally quieting down. What a difference the last year or so made when GW had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing what was necessary to put plans into place to keep the Iraqi invasion/occupation/war from going on forever. That was General Petraeus’ plan of counter insurgency. Given time, yes it began to show some successes. Given time, yes it made possible a religious faction—the Sunnis to turn on Al Qaeda in Iraq—hellbent on creating a civil war that would drain American resources and military prowess by keeping us stuck in the middle of it. And it seems to me, that GW was more than happy to allow Al Qaeda to set the stage for what was fast becoming a major middle eastern foreign policy blunder. But it took Gen. Petraeus’ counter insurgency plan, 3 parts diplomacy and 1 part use of military forces to slowly begin to turn things around in Iraq.  Why?

Maybe wars are ego boosting, but you can’t keep fighting them forever.  Nor start new wars when you haven’t resolved the last one.  And while it would seem a hard job to move men and equipment, plan out strategies for invasions; it is much harder work to plan out what the invading nation must be prepared to do during the occupational stage of the “conquered country.”  What does it want for a gvt?  What does it want for laws?  What does it want for the people?  To put it bluntly, an invader can always set up a new king, but he is still imposing his rule and his will on that people.  If the people aren’t ready, they will rebel.  And yes, there can be outside groups who will take advantage of the situation, as did Iran and Al Qaeda.  Without diplomacy, you are more likely to have a war against the invaders and a civil war with the people who bought what the invader was selling.  And GW went into Iraq without a diplomatic plan to be had.  As a consequence, he cost more lives, displaced more people and created a situation on the ground in Iraq that became inevitable for its drawing of “foreign fighters,” and Al Qaeda forming an operational group who’s sole purpose was to wreak havoc on GW’s grand schemes.  But then they could, because of the diplomatic mistakes or even the lack of any diplomacy what so ever from the civilian arm of this operation, that which was headed up by J. Paul Brenner.

Why did we need the military to come up with a diplomatic plan when guys like Ambassador Ryan Crocker should have done so?  Let’s put it bluntly, that the military isn’t exactly trained in nation building, they aren’t trained to be diplomats, they aren’t trained to be leaders in the crafting of democratic philosophies.  They are trained to fight in wars.  Once the war was supposed to be over with, then we should have seen an emergence of a diplomatic force sit down and talk with all parties and work out what a post invasion nation would look like.  In short, bringing the matter to the people what they would want for the future of their nation.  We did not choose to do that.  Perhaps there is nothing glamorous or ego boosting about the much harder work of having to  deal  with the people you injured or killed in order to take out its gvt as to what sort of future they want and whether they will accept it from you.  But only diplomacy can stop a war and diplomacy done the right way could even perhaps prevent one.  Especially when the former gvt was as hated as Saddam Hussein’s rein of terror happened to be.  Diplomacy among all factions, offering something even to “the hated Sunnis,” might have gone a long way to preventing a civil war from erupting.  One of the first factors of diplomacy, acknowledging that something must have failed if a conquered people are now taking up arms against you and allying with an unsavory enemy.  The second factor of diplomacy would be to immediately work toward doing what was necessary to bring such alliances and groundwork for a civil war to a halt.  The third, would be to recognize just how hard the second really is and persist in creating the framework for which it would be possible to create peace.

That we now see this, yes.  But it had to happen in spite of GW and not because of any brilliant decisions on his part or that of his administration.  And in the meantime, even his surrogates, apologists, administrative talking heads sowed considerable doubts about how well the diplomatic efforts via the U.S. Military would even work.  Perhaps because they liked war too well?  Or because they wanted from Iraq the economic assurances that only a source of oil would bring?  With the election of Barack H. Obama to the U.S. Presidency, a man who says that he will not allow U.S. Troops to stay in Iraq indefinitely; we are seeing a sea change in Iraq now, that might have happened in 2004 or even 2005.  GW didn’t want the war to end.  As a consequence, we may suffer more economically because of the impossibly high war debt that Iraq has incurred.  That if we had used all resources in Iraq from the get go, from military might to diplomatic resources, we may have gotten out sooner and not been responsible for the human carnage that had occurred in that nation after the invasion.  Iraq won’t be GW’s vindication.  It won’t be part of the history that sees GW in a much more favorable light.  And Iraq has effectively ruined two nations, Iraq and the U.S.

It is up to the Iraqis to begin to heal and then move their nation forward.  We can provide the humanitarian assistance, we can offer new ways of thinking, but they must take the necessary steps to rebuild themselves and a nation.  As for the healing of this country, let us hope it begins with a new president who must add new debt to take care of the people he has been elected to govern.  Perhaps our own healing will begin there.


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