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Iraq Victory Strategy

If you don't read USS Clueless regularly, you should.

Every person with an interest in the U.S. presence in Iraq — for or against — should read his article about our strategy in Iraq now that the military battle has been won.

He argues, with significant historical perspective, that we must commit to a long-term military presence:

Every one of those potential failure modes also face us in Iraq. We're working now to try to rebuild the nation after the destruction of war, cumulative damage from the sanctions and decades of Baathist incompetence and deliberate misrule, and we eventually hope that Iraq will adopt a constitution and elect a government which is based on the same principles as the ones we also sponsored in Germany and Japan. The new Iraqi government doesn't have to look like ours, but it does have to be secular and democratic, and the new constitution has to guarantee certain fundamental civil rights to the people of Iraq, including in particular the right of free speech, free press and legal equality for women.

But once that's in place, if we then shake the hands of Iraq's new moderate leaders and go home, it could all fall apart within just a few years. In the 1930's in Germany, the Nazi party took power by winning elections within the rules of the democratic system there but then eliminated that democratic system and converted the nation to a dictatorship; extremists in Iraq might do the same. When Iraq is militarily weak after the war, hostile or ambitious neighbors might take that opportunity to invade. If Iraq builds up a military force to defend itself, that could in turn be seen as a threat by other nations there, especially smaller ones like Kuwait. Any of those could lead to war; all of them represent long term failure.

That's why we can't leave. We had to occupy both Japan and Germany for decades, and we're going to have to do the same in Iraq. In a year or two or five, whenever enough progress has been made to permit it, a new constitution will be put into place and the Iraqis will elect their own government, and we'll turn power over to them. But we will need to keep a substantial military force there afterwards for the foreseeable future, on the order of 30 years.

His article is very lengthy, but it's absolutely worth reading in its entirety. It's mostly due to SDB's analyses that I supported the Iraq conflict in the first place.

Read it. Spend some time with it. It's excellent.

Tiny Island