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"... So who will decide whether or not the Turkish army comes [i.e.: into Iraq] ? Iraq's foreign minister and its governing council? The Turks themselves? The UN? Or the US administrator, Bremer, and US military commanders? And if they do come, will their presence merely intensify the security chaos? Here in microcosm is the problem of governing Iraq. Overall, it is going to take many years to sort out. And like it or not, Bush in his infinite wisdom has ensured, whatever anybody else does or does not do, that Iraq will remain primarily an American problem. ..." http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,1036206,00.html Paying the price Even if the UN takes on a bigger role in Iraq, George Bush's prewar tactics mean that Iraq will remain primarily an American problem, writes Simon Tisdall Friday September 5, 2003 If the Bush administration is expecting grateful thanks for its proposal to give the UN a bigger role in Iraq, it is going to be sorely disappointed. If the White House thinks that as a result, foreign peacekeeping forces and funds will soon be flooding into occupied Iraq, it will likely be disappointed about that, too. It is plain that the US push for a new security council resolution does not derive from newly rediscovered respect for the UN. President George Bush and his senior officials were happy to bully and bypass the UN in the lead-up to the Iraq war. It is a grim irony that they are now trudging back, cap in hand, to seek the help of the same organisation they resoundingly rubbished. Most countries will be broadly pleased by the prodigal's return. But that does not mean they will now do everything the US wants. And even if they forgive, they will not forget Bush's behaviour. Whatever they agree to do to help will come at a correspondingly higher price - if it comes at all. It is also plain to all that the US proposal for new Iraq resolution proceeds from a position of weakness, not strength. The problems facing the US (and British) military forces in Iraq have been steadily worsening. The overall security situation is dire for Iraqis and occupiers alike. But the US and Britain are locked in, manacled by chains of their own making. UN resolution 1483, passed last May, appoints the two countries as Iraq's official occupying powers. Their legal obligations, not least to provide security, are unlimited and of indefinite duration. The financial cost is also becoming unsupportable, as a long overdue, increasingly candid debate within the US is finally making plain to the American public. The Pentagon, having spent its $79bn (£50bn) additional allocation for the war, is reportedly looking for between $60-80bn to maintain current operations. Reconstruction costs, if the security situation ever allows reconstruction to get properly underway, will add tens of billions more to the bill, as the US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer says. Despite rash prewar assumptions, Iraq's sabotaged and decrepit oil industry will not provide any significant reimbursement for many years to come. The political cost to Bush and the Republican party is similarly rising. As America moves into its election season, polls show steadily falling support for the administration's Iraq policy coupled with worries about Bush's economic management. That is a potentially knock-out combination, as the Democrats are belatedly realising. The White House's resort to the UN is thus seen internationally for what it is: less a strategic choice, more a cry for help. It is true, as secretary of state Colin Powell argues, that all responsible countries, including those most vehemently opposed to the war, have an interest in a stable, peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraq. But disagreement on how best to achieve that objective did not begin last year. It has lain at the heart of more than a decade of arguments, pre-dating the first Gulf war. In the view of France's president, Jacques Chirac, and Germany's chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, the new US draft resolution, even with its latest concessions, still does not provide the answer. Speaking in Dresden on Thursday, they said the fact that the US still insists on retaining pre-eminent military and political control in Iraq is unacceptable. They want executive political power to be handed over to an interim Iraqi government "without delay", under the auspices of the UN, rather than have Bremer and the coalition provisional authority set up by resolution 1483 dictate the pace and scope of the transition. "We are quite far removed from what we believe is the priority objective, which is the transfer of political responsibility to an Iraqi government as quickly as possible," Chirac said. These statements mark the opening of another protracted UN negotiation, with Britain - the current security council president - in the familiar role of US-Europe go-between. A resolution will probably eventually be agreed. But it will not happen quickly. And the US, in its currently weakened position, will be forced to concede more ground. Yet, as already noted, agreement on a new resolution does not necessarily mean sufficient foreign troops will make their way to Iraq any time soon; it certainly does not mean the attacks on the US and British forces will cease. While no disrespect is intended to India and other possible troop contributors, their presence may simply increase the number of targets for Iraqi gunmen and bombers while doing little to enhance overall security. The arrival of more "allies" will not suddenly mean America can start bringing its boys home. Thanks to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & co, they are going to be stuck there for a long time to come. Nor does agreement at the UN mean that next month's Madrid Iraq donors' conference will even begin to find the enormous sums of money required to get Iraq up off its knees. Security council resolutions are cheap; but true, long-term nation-building is not. There is not much spare donor cash around these days; just ask the Afghan government. Nor does any UN agreement mean that the tap will be opened on all-important private sector investment. Initial excitement over opportunities in Iraq has evaporated. For businessmen, Iraq now looks like a very dodgy proposition and that perception will be hard to shake. One episode this week shows how very difficult is the US position in Iraq as its tries to rally support. For weeks it has been urging Turkey to send troops to help with the peacekeeping effort. Despite the well-founded misgivings of Iraq's anti-Turkish Kurds and the Turkish public, the Ankara government is considering doing so. Yet in almost his first remarks since assuming his post, Iraq's new foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said on Thursday that the Turks (and other neighbours) were not welcome in his country and could add to its instability by pursuing "their own political agendas". That statement caused some anger in Ankara. So who will decide whether or not the Turkish army comes? Iraq's foreign minister and its governing council? The Turks themselves? The UN? Or the US administrator, Bremer, and US military commanders? And if they do come, will their presence merely intensify the security chaos? Here in microcosm is the problem of governing Iraq. Overall, it is going to take many years to sort out. And like it or not, Bush in his infinite wisdom has ensured, whatever anybody else does or does not do, that Iraq will remain primarily an American problem. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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