Critical Speech: Iraq "easy"?"
Source Paul
Date 03/08/19/02:11

Jim writes:
>[*] It's possible that the neo-cons assumed that it would be easy to run
>Iraq after the conquest -- oops, I mean "liberation" -- because the
>countries of Eastern Europe were relatively easy to run after the fall of
>the USSR.

I have a different take on this.  Occupying Iraq really should have been
*relatively* easy (ok, a lot less hard), for a number of reasons.  But the
people calling the shots (sorry for the pun) are a extreme group,
inexperienced, and for ideological reasons have isolated themselves - even
from the vast U.S., Iraqi, and international apparatuses who would pretty
much readily do it for them.

Iraq had some unique advantages for the U.S. government - more advantages
than practically any country in the world (which is why they chose
Iraq).  Only a handful of countries could provide that much revenue/per
person to an occupying power.  No other country could provide both the
money and the human resource base.  The U.S. succeeds a widely detested
dictatorship in a largely apolitical un-mobilized climate after a decade of
sanctions.  Guerrilla groups can not survive in numbers in the countryside
and the neighboring countries hated the regime and would be willing to stay
out of the conflict (for now and under the right conditions).  The Kurdish
part of the country was already largely 'handled'.

The U.S. needed to make compromises - BUT with groups that were ready to do
it.  International elites required some slice of the pie and minor seats at
the table.  Many, Iraqi Sunni Bathists and many of their guerilla
supporters in the small units now active) could likewise be accommodated IF
they believe there is some role for their class via control/sale of the
state mechanisms they built (they mostly do not come from the traditional
wealthy families or the tribal elite).  Something like the Soviet
transition would have been fine by them.  Admittedly, the Shiites require
some very subtile accommodations (but again there is LOTS of resources to
do it with and they have gotten very little in the past).

The Eastern Europe transition used multinational institutions that ensured
a big place for the Europeans and even sought a place for the Japanese in
the Soviet Far East.  It brought in a lot of technical people who "know"
how to do these things.  It readily sought to buy out the existing national
elite classes and groups and offer them a personal future.  This model was
rejected by the Bush administration (for now) and explains a good part (not
all) of the problems.

The contrast does also tell us about the future model this crowd hopes to
promote.  But I also wonder (with the Presidential election looming)
whether the U.S. won't soften its line.

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