Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Sink or swim with Ngo Dinh Diem"

Atrios, today:
Too lazy to hunt it down, but awhile back I predicted that there was an X% chance September's new FU would be rebooted with Maliki being replaced. We must give the new prime minister a chance to succeed, blah blah. With any luck it'll be Iyad Allawi! Yay! I think X was a fairly low number, though now I'd certainly put the chance of it happening on the higher side.
So now we're back to talking about a coup. But the problem isn't that the Iraqi government is led by a bad man. The problem is that the Iraqi government, as we usually understand such things, doesn't exist. Meaning that a coup, if it were started, would not be the end of things -- it would be the beginning of something new. In Vietnam, when the Americans orchestrated the coup against their picked man, Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam went through 7 successive governments in two years, and the end process was that collapse of the Vietnamese war effort and their replacement by hundreds of thousands of US forces.

So what happens if the Iraqi government collapses entirely? Well, there's no troops to send, so that ain't happening. But the odds of the American soldiers suddenly finding themselves in a much, much worse place are pretty good.

Which brings me to this -- if you haven't seen this yet, you really need to read this piece by soldiers from the 82nd Airborne:
In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.
It's nice to see the troops on the ground are facing the possibility that nobody in Washington seems to want to talk about: it's always possible that if the US doesn't leave Iraq by choice, it could be forced out, with a lot more dead bodies on both sides.

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