Sunday, April 04, 2004

Iraq analysis: worth checking out

Here's an excerpt from an article by Morton Abramowitz, former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in the Spring 2004 edition of The National Interest --the journal that most famously first published Francis Fukuyama's influential essay "The End of History?"-- posted on their website:

"Does Iraq Matter?"

The invasion of Iraq was in great part a role of the dice. The only certain consequence was an end to the Saddam Hussein regime--an unmitigated blessing--and to its potential military threats to its neighbors. But beyond that, there were no certainties and apparently little introspection and analysis in the top ranks of the executive branch. The future of Iraq was rather in the eyes of the beholder. Iraq policy is now increasingly a response to developments on the ground there and the vagaries of our domestic politics. Ending the Arab-Israel conflict would have far more influence on transforming the Arab world than creating a new Iraqi government.

Knowing what we now know about Iraq, one could make the argument that we would have been better off if we had spent only a fraction of the hundreds of billions our Iraq venture will end up costing us in bribing Arabs and Israelis into a settlement and enforcing it. Neither the United States nor any other democracy for that matter ever works that way. Hopefully, Iraq will turn out reasonably well. This is still certainly possible. Power, much money and better livelihood can contribute significantly. History, however, shows that short-term military occupations have rarely produced successful nation-building. "Staying the course" might just mean digging in. The best that can be said with some certainty is that to stay or leave Iraq is going to be messy, costly and engage our energies and public discussion for a long time to come.

Comments to

No comments: