Hurrah For a Sovereign Iraq
The great experiment is going full speed ahead. Now there's an Iraqi government holding real power. Not that they can tell the US troops what to do, but that puts them in the same boat as South Korea. That's a hopeful comparison for me. South Korea is another example of a devastated country with no tradition of democracy becoming a free nation.
The Iraqis have been taking a lot more responsibility for running the infrastructure of the country as the CPA wound down. Now they've got the whole thing. Allawi can act more decisively than any American could, knowing he's not an occupier and the Iraqis will give him the benefit of the doubt instead of distrusting his motives or simply rejecting him as an "infidel." He's made it clear he's going to use that ability to crack down on the terrorists and hold elections as early as possible. I wish him luck. There's a lot of people willing to die to make Iraq either a Sunni-ruled dictatorship or a sharia-law theocracy (with some overlap between the two).
I suspect I'm going to see a lot of news stories about major screw-ups by the Iraqis presented as "See! They're incompetent! The whole effort is doomed!" I'll be pretty happy if anything goes right. There's no way for people to learn how to do a job other than actually doing it and that means mistakes. The US government has been at it a lot longer the the Iraqis and the best I hope for in any government project is for the feds to make an even number of mistakes so they might cancel out. Plus a lot of "mistakes" will probably be the results of enemy attacks. That's the problem with war. You can have a perfect plan and the enemy can trash it in a heartbeat by coming up with a new idea. You just have to keep coming up with new ideas or keep slugging it out until the other side folds.
The US was once in the position Iraq is now. Ben Franklin said we had a republic "if we can keep it." The Iraqis have a republic, and a lot of people are trying to take it from them. If they can keep it, if young Iraqis can grow up knowing they can make their own choices, then the Middle East will have a better tomorrow and we'll have averted a catastrophe worse than the world has ever seen before. That means we have to keep helping them as much as we can to make it happen. The costs in lives and cash may be more than we've lost so far but to get this far and give up--running away or leaving them to the criminals and incompetents of the United Nations--would not just dishonor those who died to get us here but guarantee a grimmer future for Iraq, for America, and the for the world as a whole. Current Mood: optimistic