Friday, February 02, 2007

Missions Accomplished, Civil Wars, Declaring Victory and Coming Home

Mark Dorroh

Back in 2003, I wrote a column which suggested that by 2005, America should begin seriously considering the option of withdrawing troops from Iraq through a simple, rhetorical expedient. My proposed end game to our nation's involvement in the conflict is borrowed from a 35-year-old remark made by US senator whose name I cannot recall (although I believe it was either Senator Fulbright or Senator Proxmire), on the subject of ending our involvement in the Vietnam War. That worthy legislator's suggestion was that we declare victory and bring our troops home.

His solution was not employed, or even taken very seriously at the time, but the military circumstances in Vietnam in 1970 and Iraq in 2006 are remarkably similar. Then, as now, a righteous effort to help facilitate freedom and self-determination in a small, divided nation gradually became a desperate - and failing - attempt to stop a civil war. The Iraqi civil war has already begun, and evidence on the ground suggests the world may be powerless to end it before the warring tribes exhaust themselves in slaughter.

Moreover, now that Saddam is deposed and on trial for his life, a new Iraqi constitution has been promulgated, a government formed and all Saddam's hidden WMD programs have been eliminated, is there any other realistic mission for America to attempt to accomplish in Iraq? I think not.

"Mission Accomplished?"

Whether or not some of us choose to believe it, the 2003 Coalition of the Willing's mission to Iraq has been accomplished.

That mission, to finally get weapons inspectors beyond the dozens of locked doors of suspected WMD sites - doors kept shut by the mad dictator in violation of the terms of his 1991 armistice and 17 UN Security Council resolutions - was accomplished none too soon.

The evidence of Saddam's continued treachery was plain to see in the news stories coming out of Iraq in late 2002. For instance, in the final months preceding the invasion (four years after WMD inspectors were unceremoniously tossed out of Iraq), the new round of inspections delivered to the UN Security Council the information that in one visit to a suspected WMD research and development lab, the "scientists" interviewed by Hans Blix's inspectors turned out to be security police wearing lab coats.

We now know, according to reports published by the Associated Press and Newsweek Magazine, that Saddam did indeed have good reason to keep those doors locked, those scientists on ice.*

Specifically, Saddam's researchers were actively engaged in programs seeking to employ dual-use technology and materials to create biological and chemical weapons. The reports I recall reading in Newsweek estimated that with the research and development substantially done, Saddam could have begun producing WMD stockpiles within a matter of months or even weeks. Thank heaven Hans Blix's advice to hang fire was disregarded by the Coalition of the Willing ...

This level of Iraqi readiness to begin manufacturing WMD should come as no surprise to anyone who takes the time to consider these facts: anthrax pathogens are readily available in the soil anywhere animals die of that infection, while the nerve gas Ricin is derived from the common castor bean. With the agents themselves easily produced, the primary goals of Saddam's WMD research were to weaponize the biological and nerve gas agents, figure out how to ramp up production on a large scale, then beg, borrow or steal delivery systems. His possession of ballistic missiles with ranges in excess of armistice limitations suggest he was well on his way to achieving those goals.

Mission Creep?

Among those insufficiently acquainted with the history of the 20th century, comparisons are frequently made between 1960 Vietnam and 2003 Iraq. Yet even though America's logical end game - declaring victory and coming home - applies to both conflicts, Iraq does not replicate the political circumstances of 1960 Vietnam so much as those of 1990 Yugoslavia.

Like Yugoslavia, Iraq has never been a real nation. It is a faux nation - a forced amalgamation of tribes who had never lived together in peace - cobbled together after WW I by Winston Churchill, the king-hell colonialist of his day. Like Yugoslavia under the dictatorship of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, Iraq is riven with religious and ethnic vendettas going back hundreds of years. And like Yugoslavia, in the absence of a "strong man" dictator, those conflicts will inevitably surface and play themselves out.

Like Yugoslavia, Iraq is on track to descend into a bloodbath which will only end when the indigenous ethnic tribes liberate themselves from the strictures imposed by Churchill's handiwork.

No number of coalition forces will prevent this from occuring; the best we can do is try to keep the killing down for the nonce ... and this modest goal may only be achieved through the continued sacrifice of blood and treasure by coalition nations.

Ergo, history suggests that we are left with one essential question: Is our nation's continued military presence in Iraq a classic case of the "mission creep" which needlessly cost American lives and sent us packing from Somolia? I believe it is.

I also believe that it is now, sadly, time for coalition forces to leave Iraq to her bloody, tragic, post-Saddam fate.

Will there ever again be a role for the international community to play in Iraq? Perhaps. After a few years of ethnic cleansing and genocide have been sufficiently well-documented, those non-coalition European nations who have evinced such tender concern for Iraqi civilians killed in the fog of a legal and utterly justified war will finally realize that they have a humanitarian duty, now that the initial heavy lifting has been done by member nations of the coalition, to replace those withdrawn forces and commit their own troops to be the new peacekeepers, ala NATO involvement in the former Yugoslavia.

It's a bitter pill to swallow, and we Americans will no doubt be blamed for the terror and murder to come. But it must be noted that the history of Iraq indicates the death toll from the 2003 invasion and Iraqi civil war combined will probably not exceed that inflicted by Saddam and his 30-year reign of terror. In those 30 years, Saddam involved Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s - a genuine quagmire which went on twice as long as Operation Iraqi Freedom and which resulted in an estimated 1,000,000 Muslim casualties on both sides. Then, of course, there was Saddam's ill-advised invasion of Kuwait during which another 200,000 -300,000 Iraqi casualties were sustained, along with thousands of Kuwaitis killed, tortured, raped and looted.

Add those needless deaths to the evidence in post-invasion Iraq of mass graves, the exhaustively documented political terror and genocide perpetrated on dissenters and the non-Sunni Iraqi populations, and it would be hard to imagine that the costs of an all-out Iraqi Civil War could have worse human consequences than than those of Saddam's record of domestic terror and wars of aggression. One supposes it's possible, expecially with Syria and Iran playing puppetmasters and the Islamofascist revolution in full hue and cry. But the sad fact remains that, human nature being what it is, those bent on vendetta are seldom stopped by anything but the final judgment of their own people. Chances are good that when the colonial creation of the faux "nation" of Iraq morphs into three independent nations (possibly in some sort of mutual-defense, oil-revenue sharing federation) in the probable post-civil war resolution, the Iraqis will themselves call a halt to the killing.

To paraphrase the late, great Golda Mier, the Iraqi civil war will end when the tribes prosecuting it decide they love their children more than they hate each other.

*In fact, in Hans Blix's post-invasion report to the UN Security Council, based on his inspectors' final pre-invasion findings, the first few paragraphs contain the information that Saddam was still not obeying the mandates crafted by the UN in the aftermath of his invasion of Kuwait.

Also, tellingly, the 11,000 page "final report" submitted by the Iraqi government in 2002 still lacked comprehensive documentation of the destruction of the WMD stockpiles in his possession since 1991. It was, according the Blix's own experts, merely a rehash of documentation already submitted and found wanting.


Vigilante said...

Here's to Golda Mier!

Well stated and astutely cited.

This election on 7 November is a tripartite referendum on Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI).

If Iraqis want to have their uncivil free-for-all, let's freaking get out of their frigging way!

Markdorroh said...

Dear V:

It's unfortunate the "peace at any price" crowd has failed to learn the lessons of Central Europe from 1932 to 1945 in regard to allowing mad dictators to thumb their noses at treaty terms and international law ...

I would respectfully suggest anyone who characterizes America's involvement in the Iraq war as unprovoked and/or unnecessary that he/she re-read this post's documentation of Saddam's secret WMD research-and-development programs (prohibited by the armistice and UN Security Council every bit as much as WMD stockpiles)and Han's Blix's admission to the Security Council that Saddam was still not cooperating in the final round of mandated inspections in 2002.
If, after 12 years of noncompliance, the best suggestion an arms inspector can make is to give a mad dictator "more time" to comply with international law, it would seem the promulgation of armistice terms and UN Security Council resolutions are exercises in futility.
I want the UN to remain in existance, but I'm a little tired of having it make rules it then proceeds to ignore when the time comes for enforcement.