So... we're in charge of Iraq - What now?

Re out past experiences with nation building/re-construction, post WWII Japan and Germany still had relatively sophisticated cultural infrastructures re education and technology level.

How the heck are we going to go about nation building in Iraq? What do we want to wind up with? Iraqis are plenty intelligent and can (obviously) be technologically focused if necessary, but do they have the cultural ability to embrace or support a representative democracy, or will clan and tribal allegiances not allow for this? Do the Saudi sheiks have some notion that we’re going to give them some say in how Iraq is managed? Are we? Do we have any idea how we’re going to go about this successfully?

After hearing the media spin and some other stuff, I would imagine Iraquis would be pretty receptive of something other than a tyrannical, Draconian dictator. We’d have to be sensitive to the cultural and religious implications, but being that the culture is an advanced one (versus Somalia) with a relatively established infrastructure (electricity, plumbing, food supply), I would think there’d be less problems.

I’m not a statesman, but I play one on TV.

This column might be of interest.

An excerpt:

*"[L]ook at our behavior in Afghanistan. In the beginning, money was no object; victory over the Taliban was as much a matter of bribes to warlords as it was of Special Forces and smart bombs. But President Bush promised that our interest wouldn’t end once the war was won; this time we wouldn’t forget about Afghanistan, we would stay to help rebuild the country and secure the peace. So how much money for Afghan reconstruction did the administration put in its 2004 budget?

None. The Bush team forgot about it. Embarrassed Congressional staff members had to write in $300 million to cover the lapse. …

And Iraq will receive the same treatment. On Tuesday Ari Fleischer declared that Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction ? even though experts warn that it may be years before the country’s oil fields are producing at potential. Off the record, some officials have even described Iraqi oil as the “spoils of war.”

So there you have it. This administration does martial plans, not Marshall Plans: billions for offense, not one cent for reconstruction."*

There will be no Iraq left. It will break down into various ethnic conclaves. The iron hand of Saddam is all that’s holding it together now.

That’s just liberal spin. The Aghanistan rebuilding project is still going on just fine. There are thousands of American soldiers there. Canada is preparing to send 1000-2000 soldiers to help stabilize the place. The Japanese have been heavily involved in financing and debt forgiveness, and I just saw Colin Powell give a press conference in Japan where the Afghanistan situation figured prominently.

To suggest that the Bush administration ‘forgot’ about Afghanistan is just silly. For example, from this article:

Yeah, that sounds like Afghanistan has been completely forgotten, doesn’t it?

As for Iraq, here’s a good overview of the Administration’s plan.

Looks much like the U.S. reconstruction plan for Japan after WWII. Initial total military control, followed by a U.S. civilian governor, then establishment of an Iraqi government slowly.

According to the article, the original plan of setting up a government using expatriate Iraqis has been abandoned. Good thing, too, IMO. Immediately installing a government made up of one faction of Iraqis was destined to lead the country into civil war, IMO.

According to leaders in the Kurdish movement who met with US officials, the United States isn’t planning to bring democracy to Iraq but simply place a few American millitary officials in high up places in the Iraqi government.

Considering that the United States government has lied to the press before, I’m inclined to believe the Kurds.

I’m going to watch this thread with a great deal of interest - and here’s why…

Iraq, it appears to me, resembles nothing quite so much as the former Soviet Union as anything else - a region of simmering ethnic competing interests held together by the brute force of a totalitarian regime. After the Soviet Union unravelled, a truckload of previously unforeseen troubles also manifested themselves too. And indeed, there was an attempted coup in the early 90’s to unseat Gorbachev if memory serves me correctly as well.

My greatest fear is this - just like North Vietnam, which essentially was callously exploited by China to fight a proxy war against the Americans (certainly the Chinese aided the North Vietnamese immeasurably) - I fear that Iraq will prove to be a “rallying cry” for the Islamic World against the blatant oppression of the heathen “Christian Crusading West” (blah blah blah).

I have grave fears that a truckload of the Arabian countries nearby will aid and abet a counter insurgency war against the Americans just like the Chinese did with the North Vietnamese. It won’t matter a gnat’s whisker what the local Iraqi population want, or prefer. If thousands of indistinguishable militia are flooding the borders to fight the Crusaders on Iraqi soil, it’s going to be a dreadful place to be if you’re a member of the Western armed forces.

I suspect some awful sniper fests going down for a long time sadly.

And I’m unconvinced the West is prepared to throw the numbers necessary to quell that sort of geurilla warfare. To do it right means TOTALLY shutting down all of Iraq’s borders - and to give you an idea of what’s involved… Hitler had to commit 300,000 troops to Norway for the entire duration of WWII just to secure the iron ore port of Narvik. And even then, those troops suffered consistent losses throughout the length of the war.

Once again, I maintain that the USA has missed an incredible strategic opportunity. If the USA had made stirling positive overtures to Iran all this time, there is a significant possibility the Iranian’s would have offered their assistance in this matter - which would have sent all sorts of conflicting signals to the Arabian region. Every bit of airwave static I pick up seems to say that there’s one awful lot of unfinished business between the Iraqis and the Iranians.

I hope I am wrong, but I suspect occupying forces will end up in the same situation as Russian forces in Afghanistan - constantly under attack by guerilla forces, eventually forced to retreat.
I simply cannot see a divided country like Iraq forming a stable democratic state.

Well, gee, Sam, it’s nice to know that the Virginia Gazette is keeping track of the completion of “225 projects in 10 provinces.” You’ll have to forgive me though for persisting in the belief that a sustained approach to stabilizing Afghanistan’s political and social problems will require more than peanuts in aid from the United States in 2004. More broadly speaking, there is nothing to convince me (or anyone else I should imagine) that the Bush admin has the vision or political will for a Marshall plan approach.

This is a thread to bookmark and return to after a year or two. IMHO the chances of the USA occupying Iraq and rebuilding it successfully are slim to none. Iraq is not Japan or Germany and the conditions now in the world and in the USA are not the conditions after WWII. If the USA were to attempt something like that it would probably get bogged down there and it does not have the will or the resources to maintain a strong occupation in the face of the opposition of the entire area and of most of the Western world and most of the American people. I just can’t see it happening. But let’s return to this thread in a couple of years and see who has to eat crow.

So you’re saying… what? That the story is false? That even if it’s true, it’s irrelevent because the link is to the Virginia Gazette?

And you’re welcome to persist in whatever belief you’d like, but I’d like to see some evidence for your assertion.

But since you didn’t like my first link, how about the Center For Contemporary Conflict?

From the site:

Today, there are 4800 peacekeepers from other nations in Afghanistan, along with thousands of American military engineers rebuilding the infrastructure.

There are some problems, but they aren’t coming from the United States. Last year, a whole bunch of money was pledged by UN countries for Afghanistan’s rebuilding, and some of them aren’t coming through. And Germany has announced that its ‘peacekeepers’ will only stay in Afghanistan as long as there is no need for them, because if any actual conflict breaks out, Germany will cut and run. Real nice of them.

“Today, there are 4800 peacekeepers from other nations in Afghanistan, along with thousands of American military engineers rebuilding the infrastructure.”

Right–but that’s now not in 2004, and, more important, that’s with the full cooperation of global coalition. I’m going to exit this thread as I’ve started another one that I think will be more productive. If you’re interested, you’ll find it here.

So… You are criticizing the Bush administration not for what they are doing now, but for what you think they will do a year from now. Sounds like pure partisanship.

Are there potential pitfalls? Of course. Hell, there’s potential pitfalls with any government program. Is it being handled perfectly? Probably not.

But did the Bush administration ‘abandon’ Afghanistan? Not a chance.

Let me repeat what I wrote in the Powell doctrine thread.
"As for the “exit strategy” it’s pretty much wishful thinking with any number of difficult questions unanswered:
Who will pay for reconstruction if Saddam destroys the oil-fields?
What if there is a civil war between Shias, Sunnis and Kurds?
What if a Shia dominated Iraq forms an alliance with Iran a few years down the line?
How much control will the US have over the actions of outside powers like Turkey and Iran?

The Afghanistan situation is not reassuring . There is very little nation-building going on. Central control is largely a joke outside Kabul. The different regional powers like Iran and Pakistan are back to their old games. There is very little guarantee that Afghanistan will become a stable democracy in the long run. Above all there seems to be a big question mark about Uncle Sam’s staying power and commitment once the fighting stops."

As for the administration’s commitment how can you take it seriously when they didn’t even budget any money for Afghanistan this year before Congress put it in? This is supposed to be a ten year reconstruction effort and the administration is losing interest in the second year.

Why should it be any better in Iraq where the costs may well be higher ,when there is much less international support and when the budget situation in the US is set to deteriorate sharply in future?

Did you even read my links? How can you say that there is ‘very little nation building’ going on? What are you basing that statement on?

As for the Bush Administration not funding Afghanistan - the criticism from the left comes from Bush vetoing a huge spending bill that had 170 million earmarked for Afghanistan in it. But the bill was vetoed for other reasons - typical partisan crap. One side sees vulnerability in criticising the reconstruction of Afghanistan, so they pack a spending bill with enough stuff to cause a veto, then they can step up and save the day.

But the fact is, most of the reconstruction work in Afghanistan is being done, right now. The reason it’s not in the budget is because it’s being paid for out of the military budget.

But there is a good case to criticise the reconstruction effort - only it’s not the Bush administration that is at fault. Last year, there were billions of dollars pledged for Afghanistan reconstruction by other countries, and many of them have reneged on that pledge. But the most obnoxious behaviour of all comes from the Germans, who said that they might pull their peacekeepers if any violence breaks out. That’s like putting cops on the street, but saying that they’ll take the cops out if any actual criminals show up.

My source for the comment about nation-building is Ahmed Rashid who is probably the leading journalist covering the region. He didn’t say that things hadn’t improved but that much less was being done than promised. Your statistics about 220 projects doesn’t contradict this and is indeed a meaningless statistic without the contex of what exactly the projects are, how much is being spent , what the needs of the country as a whole are and how it compares what was promised earlier.

Your point about insufficient commitment from other countries may be valid but according to Rashid they take their cue from the US and when they found out the US was slacking they also became less enthusiastic.
Here is a good interview of Rashid on NPR.

As for the budget you are forgetting that we are talking Bush’s own 2004 budget not some other bill he vetoed.

I’d say leaving Afghanistan out of the 2004 budget is a noteworthy index of what they will do a year from now–assuming of course that public pressure of one sort or another doesn’t result in a turnaround. Sounds like pure common sense to me.

Gentlemen - you naughty boys! You’re hijacking the thread with all this talk of Afghanistan - and gee! As you know, this thread is actually about what to do in Iraq AFTER the initial military conquest - which is a fait accompli in my opinion.

Not to be too pushy (smile) but I wanna talk about the OP ok?

Here’s my take… the ongoing workload after the initial campaign is one of nation building. And it seems to me that the Military Industrail complex of the Western World is inarguably invincible - only a fool would argue otherwise.

Still it has to be said, there are TWO, not one, battlefronts at stake in Iraq. After the initial battle, the Western World then has to fight a 2nd battle - and that’s the much harder battle of hearts and minds. Many, many years of indoctrination have to be undone - and it won’t be easy.

This is why I maintain my earlier assertion - the USA desperately needs a bellicose ally in the region - not merely an equivocational one such as Turkey. And my considered opinion is that no ally in the world would be as potent as Iran. The symbolism such an alliance would emit is amazing in it’s implications.

Since Iran isn’t playing along I guess we’ll have to invade them and build a friendly nation there too. With this reasoning the USA might just as well start the invasion of the rest of the world.

[hijack from nation building]

Once the current regime is gone, archaeologists rejoice! Iraq is rich in un-excavated sites, and hold unknown historical treasures.

[end hijack]