By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
There is a real possibility that when the war ends, the U.S. will be left occupying a devastated nation. A nation short on food, medicine, water and fuel. A nation whose transportation and energy infrastructure has been crippled. A nation facing a public-health crisis, especially in Baghdad where the sewage-treatment facilities will be knocked out of commission (either as a direct result of the fighting or because of losing their electrical supply). And then, of course, there will be refugees, probably several million — all of whom will need food, shelter and medical attention. And the more widespread the destruction — regardless of whether it is caused by Saddam Hussein or by the United States — the longer it will take to rebuild Iraq, and at greater expense. The wishful thinking of administration defenders notwithstanding, the Europeans are not likely to pay for cleaning up the mess caused by a war of which they did not approve. America will “own” postwar Iraq, and it will be America’s responsibility to put the Iraqi Humpty-Dumpty back together again.
Many administration officials vow the U.S. is going to “democratize” Iraq and turn it into a model for the rest of the region. Doubtful. Iraq has zero experience with democracy or even constitutional government. The fact that Iraq always has been ruled by repressive regimes reflects its own internal religious and ethnic divisions. The minority Sunni sect is predominant in Iraq and rules over restless Kurds (who want their own national state, which would encompass parts of Iran, Turkey and Iraq), and minority Shiite Muslims, who are sympathetic to Iran.
The war could well result in Iraq’s splintering, with Turkey moving into the northern part of the country to settle scores with the Kurds and to fulfill its aims of historical retribution (Iraq was severed from the Ottoman Empire by the World War I victors), and Iran will seek predominant political influence (if not outright annexation) of southern Iraq.
In addition, a U.S. military presence will bring American power to the very border of Iran — a charter member of the “axis of evil” and a state moving to acquire its own nuclear weapons. Tehran has no love for Saddam Hussein, but Iranian leaders have made it clear that they have even less love for American power on their border.
In postwar Iraq, the United States will inherit a mess. Victory over Iraq will not noticeably enhance America’s security, and in some ways — by stimulating more terrorism — it will make the U.S. even less secure. And defeating Iraq won’t do anything to solve the truly dangerous threat posed by North Korea — which, unlike Iraq, actually has both nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver them to U.S. territory. This is the wrong war, at the wrong place, against the wrong enemy. And America will pay a price. Those of us who are Republicans can only regret that the GOP — and its foreign policy — have been hijacked by a crew of neoconservatives who hold hegemonic and imperial ambitions for the United States. Their crusading zeal and reckless indifference to the prudent principles of foreign-policy realism have led the United States into a morass from which it will be difficult for us to extricate ourselves.