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U.S. in Iraq: More Chaos and Violence rather than Stable Democracy

Germany's ex-Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer criticizes the Bush administration's Iraq policy in his new book Die Rueckkehr der Geschichte (The Return of History). Spiegel published an essay taken from the foreword:
The war in Iraq was supposed to create the conditions for a regional realignment. It was supposed to create a new, an American Middle East, proving America's power and global leadership and thereby guaranteeing America and the West lasting security in the face of the new terrorist threat. Today, we're farther removed from that than ever.  (...)
Unfortunately, US policy in Iraq today has stalled entirely. Instead of bringing about regional realignment, the US is using its strength to create a power vacuum, and thus prevent a civil war. Such a civil war is, however, becoming more likely every day. If, in 2003, everything suggested that this US war was a mistake, then today, the arguments against a US retreat in Iraq are at least as strong. But the situation is even worse, since every day that US troops remain in Iraq will only aggravate rather than solve this crisis -- a crisis that is headed for civil war. (...)
The question is whether the majority of US citizens were ever really prepared to pay the very high military, political, economic, and moral cost for such an imperial enterprise, and to pay for it over a long period of time. We know today that the answer is "No." But such a negative answer was already to be expected in 2002 and 2003, and would have been the starting point if the actual reason for the war had been placed at the center of the domestic debate in the US. (....)
The battle against terrorism was one of the main arguments for the war in Iraq, but this argument has transformed into its opposite. If the al-Qaida terror network was on the defensive after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the war in Afghanistan, this situation has been reversed since the war in Iraq. For international jihad terrorism, Iraq has historically taken on the same mobilizing function that the Islamic and national resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan had in the 1980s. Then, it was Pakistan that became the main beneficiary of the Afghan power vacuum; in today's Iraq, that role falls to Iran.

Likewise, Rami G. Khouri, editor-at-large of The Daily Star in Beirut, expresses the anger of many Arabs against "Western armies that regularly march into our lands to deliver modernity through the muzzle of a French musket or the barrel of an M-1 tank", but then foster ethnic, religious and tribal violence rather than build democracy. Writing for Newsweek, he sums up what is currently going wrong in Iraq:

Along with more than 2,300 American dead and more than 4,150 Iraqi police and army personnel, the best independent estimates say that somewhere around 30,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the country's many confrontations among U.S. and British troops, Iraqi state military forces, the indigenous resistance and terrorists drawn to Iraq from elsewhere. Every new governing body installed in Baghdad since April 2003 enjoys increasingly less impact outside the fortifications of the Green Zone in Baghdad.
A once unified national state has fragmented into an essentially independent Kurdish statelet in the north and strongly decentralized regions in the rest of the country. Once mixed ethnic neighborhoods are unraveling at a brisk pace. Petty crime and organized kidnappings haunt much of the land. Many of the best professional minds in the country are emigrating to neighboring lands at every available opportunity.
The most important government posts at the Defense, Foreign and Interior ministries remain unfilled due to political discord among the main factions. The key aspects of the much-ballyhooed national Constitution—unity, federalism, provincial powers, control of oil resources, the role of militias, relations with neighbors, the role of Islam—remain vague and unresolved. Even the single most powerful group, the majority Shiites who dominate the Parliament and the government, disagree about crucial issues related to their own powers and alliances, let alone issues of national unity, and they all have well-armed militias to back up their political leaders.

Since the U.S. so far failed to deliver its pomises for Iraq, Rami G. Khouri concludes: "Secular democrats and human-rights activists throughout the region, who should be natural partners with Washington on political reform in such places as Syria, Egypt, Bahrain and Iran, now mostly shun American support as fatally radioactive."


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Martin on :

How do you call it, if someone achieves the exact opposite of what is goals were?

Martin on :

I meant: ...what HIS original goals have been. Isn't there a word for this? "Failure" just means you don't achieve your goals. But how do you call achieving the opposite of your goals? Like when you start an ad campaign to improve your companies image, but the ads are so bad that your companies image turns out worse after the ad campaign...

marriex on :

Joerg on :

You refer to a different article by Rami G. Khouri. Besides, I don't see any "Bushbashing" here. In fact, this post does not mention President Bush at all.

marriex on :

Doesn't matter almost nay sentence he writes is rubbish: "Many of the best professional minds in the country are emigrating to neighboring lands at every available opportunity." A phenomenon completly unknown before 2003... "Once mixed ethnic neighborhoods are unraveling at a brisk pace." Kurds and Arabs happily lived together in Kirkuk... etc.

Joerg on :

"A phenomenon completly unknown before 2003..." Apparently plenty stayed, who are leaving now. Perhaps you could give us some of your expert comments on this NYT article from February 2004: [url=]In an instant, he became one of hundreds of intellectuals and midlevel administrators who Iraqi officials say have been assassinated since May in a widening campaign against Iraq's professional class. "They are going after our brains," said Lt. Col. Jabbar Abu Natiha, head of the organized crime unit of the Baghdad police. "It is a big operation. Maybe even a movement." These white-collar killings, American and Iraqi officials say, are separate from — and in some ways more insidious than — the settling of scores with former Baath Party officials, or the singling-out of police officers and others thought to be collaborating with the occupation. Hundreds of them have been attacked as well in an effort to sow insecurity and chaos. But by silencing urban professionals, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a spokesman for the occupation forces, the guerrillas are waging war on Iraq's fledgling institutions and progress itself. The dead include doctors, lawyers and judges. "This works against everything we're trying to do here," the general said. It has never been easy being part of the educated class in Iraq, certainly not under the repression by Saddam Hussein. Now, all over the country, it is a lethal business."[/url] The Christian Science Monitor writes: [url=]Iraq losing its best and brightest | Targeted attacks and a sluggish economy are pushing academics, Christians, and businessmen to move abroad.[/url] "Kurds and Arabs happily lived together in Kirkuk..." Jesus Christ, nobody said things were fine in Iraq under Saddam. Rami G. Khouri is just one of many observers, who say that a few things are worse now, for example that some of those formerly mixed ethnic neighborhoods are now unraveling at a brisk pace. I still wonder why you describe us as "Bushbashers" on your blog althought this post does not mention President Bush at all...? Apparently, pointing out some negative developments in Iraq qualifies as "Bushbashing" for you.

Joerg on :

Sure, some are moving because they couldn't do so before. Othere just consider it too violent in Iraq. Conservatives complain that the media does not report good news from Iraq. Well, check this out: [url=]While the Bush press office and responsive reporters and talk show hosts desperately continue to accuse the, quote, “mainstream media” of ignoring the, quote, “good news from Iraq,” “The Washington Post” has revealed that for the last six months, the Voice of America, the U.S. government-run news organization, has not had a correspondent in Baghdad because it‘s just too dangerous. Alicia Ryu tells “The Post” she was rotated out of the assignment there in December at her own request, and that there has been no successor because, quote, “They didn‘t have any volunteers to replace me.” Ms. Ryu said she “couldn‘t live with the idea that someone else could have died who was working with me,” this after she came under fire in an ambush and her security guard was killed there.[/url]

David on :

The awful news coming out of Iraq does not conform to the neocon worldview, so anyone who mentions the "inconvenient truth" of the real situation is accused of Bush-bashing.

Anonymous on : Die Zahl der Angriffe irakischer Aufstaendischer sei gegenwaertig so hoch wie seit zwei Jahren nicht mehr, berichtet Bryan Bender. Eine wichtige Ursache sei die andauernde politische Ungewissheit im Land. "The vast majority of the attacks - from crude bombing attempts and shootings to more sophisticated, military-style assaults and suicide attacks - were targeted at US-led coalition military forces, but the majority of deaths have been of civilians, who are far more vulnerable to insurgent tactics." (Boston Globe vom 31.5.2006)

marriex on :

@ Jörg Please compare the NYT article to the Taheri's article quoted here: and more here: In a long term perspective it is remarkable how few people have been leaving Iraq in the last three years. Moreover people returning to the North of Iraq are not taken into account. Moreover when he lashes out against the fragmentation of Iraq this is just an expression of his Arab nationalist ideology. And why don't you ask: For which reason does "Newsweek" allow an author from Lebanon to judge the situation in Iraq and not an Iraqi? With regard to the credentials of Khouri as advocate of democracy you seem to have overlooked the following paragraph in his article: "Apart from Iraq, Washington has failed most spectacularly in the Palestinian territories, where U.S.-Israeli-European policies are on the verge of simultaneously quashing a budding democracy and sparking violence and political fragmentation. Harsh diplomatic moves to isolate and financially cripple the democratically elected Hamas government is causing needless hardship, feeding a virulent anti-Americanism and reducing popular support for peace talks with Israel. By channeling money, guns and diplomatic support to Hamas' rival, President Mahmoud Abbas from Fateh, the U.S. and its partners are only setting the stage for Iraq-like civil strife and a continuing implosion of national institutions of governance." Apart from describing the rule of a terorist organisation as "budding democracy", he does not substantiate his far-reaching claims with regard to financial and military aid for Abbas. And this paragraph is consistent with his call for a cooperation between "secular forces" and Islamists. "Jesus Christ, nobody said things were fine in Iraq under Saddam. Rami G. Khouri is just one of many observers, who say that a few things are worse now, for example that some of those formerly mixed ethnic neighborhoods are now unraveling at a brisk pace." Excuse me this is absolutly ridiculous: I apologize for calling you Bushbashers. However, if you continue to chose extremly doubtful witnesses I will not the last one to misunderstand your intentions.

marriex on :

More information on ethnic harmony under Saddam:

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

America has "achieved" these deaths? Do you ever hear yourselves? You assign blame like someone playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Try comparing what is with what would have been. (Just a suggestion.) Iraqis alive today who would be dead if Saddam were still in power = 37,216 - 92,294 Logic Times: "Fuzzy Moral Math" "The anti-war movement views Iraqi civilians deaths as grist for the anti-American mill. Dead Sudanese are a statistic. Dead Iraqis before the war are a memory. Dead civilians in Iraq today are an exhilarating opportunity for the socialist left to undermine American liberty, power and society. This fuzzy math cannot stand. Logic Times will keep, from this day forward, the Iraq Survival Count." AMERICA "achieved" this, right? AMERICA. Right?

Anonymous on :

"America has "achieved" these deaths? Do you ever hear yourselves?" What are you talking about? And to whom are you talking?

David on :

Haditha may just be the tip of the iceberg. It is worth reading this article in the Observer:,,1789986,00.html?gusrc=rss/ "(Excerpt)At the heart of the issue is a culture of violence against Iraqi civilians that has been present in large measure since the moment US forces crossed the border into Iraq - an inability and unwillingness to distinguish between civilians and combatants that as three years have passed has been transformed, for some, into something more deliberate." No wonder 80% of the Iraqis in a recent poll want the US troops out immediately.

marriex on :

P.S.: To say I was angry is the least I can say to describe how I felt reading the comments from Arabs on a BBC forum. There was no surprise that all Iraqi commentators were pleased that we got rid of that vicious terrorists but on the other hand there was probably 90% of non-Iraqi Arab commentators who mourned him as a martyr.

Joerg on :

@ Marriex Apology accepted. > Please compare the NYT article to the Taheri's article quoted here: Instapundit lets someone say the NYT's numbers are not supported, but apparently Taheri does not have to support his numbers. Besides, Instapundit also quotes an Iraqi Pajama Blogger saying: "many of my friends, relatives or the people I know have either left Iraq or are planning to do so." You criticize me for quoting the "Arab nationalist" Rami G. Khouri rather than an Iraqi, but apparently you don't have any problem with the Iranian exile Taheri, who has his own agenda. He described something as a fact, which was not a fact. FAIR: [url=]The New York Post put on its front page a Canadian columnist's erroneous claim that a new Iranian law says "religious minorities...will have to adopt distinct color schemes to make them identifiable in public." The Canadian National Post has since admitted it "did not exercise sufficient caution and skepticism" in originally running the story. While many U.S. outlets retain enough skepticism to have passed on reprinting the column, the New York Post "blared the story on Page 1—and across two inside pages" with the inflammatory headline "Fourth Reich: Iran Law Labels Jews."[/url] Jewish Weekly: [url=]Taheri's column reported that a law passed by Iran's parliament on May 15, "mandates the government to make sure that all Iranians wear 'standard Islamic garments' designed to remove ethnic and class distinctions ... and to eliminate 'the influence of the infidel'." "It also envisages," stressed Taheri, "separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zorastrians, who will have to adopt distinct color schemes to make them identifiable in public. ... They will also have to wear special insignia, known as zonnar, to indicate their non-Islamic faiths." Indeed, the law's text and parliamentary debate, available in English from the BBC Service, discloses no provision mandating that any Iranians will have to wear any kind of prescribed dress.[/url] I have the impression that there was more outrage in the conservative blogosphere about "those Jewish badges" than about the Saudi textbooks, who still preach hatred against Jews and Christians. Even after "major reforms." [url=]The Wash Post has a major article about it[/url]. In first grade Saudi kids learn: "Every religion other than Islam is false." And in eighth grade: "As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus." I know that your blog Transatlantic Forum covered the Saudi textbooks. Great. > Moreover when he lashes out against the fragmentation of Iraq > this is just an expression of his Arab nationalist ideology. > And why don't you ask: For which reason does "Newsweek" allow > an author from Lebanon to judge the situation in Iraq and not > an Iraqi? My post was not just about Iraq, but about neocon dreams of regional alignment. Please reread my intro to Khouri. I wrote that he "expresses the anger of many Arabs." Anger is not always rational. Your anger against my post wasn't rational either. Your anger was emotional, just like the anger of so many Arabs. That's why you called me a "Bushbasher" although I did not mention President Bush at all and did not express any unfair criticism. As you know, it is important to understand other people's perspectives and their anger in order to change things. Khouri, I believe, expresses what many Arabs believe about the history of the West's policy. Now I know that you are sensitive to criticism of developments in Iraq. You get mad, if someone criticizes things in today's Iraq without mentioning how bad things were under Saddam. I don't write all the time how bad Saddam was. For me and probably most readers this is obvious. > some of > those formerly mixed ethnic neighborhoods are now unraveling > at a brisk pace." > > Excuse me this is absolutly ridiculous: You dispute that there were mixed neighborhoods in Bagdad or that they are unraveling now?

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