Tom Friedman gets a clue
If you think we don't have enough troops in Iraq now — which we don't — wait and see if the factions there start going at each other. America would have to bring back the draft to deploy enough troops to separate the parties. In short, we are at a dangerous moment in Iraq. We cannot let sectarian violence explode. We cannot go on trying to do this on the cheap. And we cannot succeed without more Iraqi and allied input.
But the White House and Pentagon have been proceeding as if it's business as usual. It is no wonder that some of the people closest to what is happening are no longer sitting quiet. The gutsy Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, acting on his own, told reporters last week that the U.S. would consider a new U.N. resolution that would put U.S. forces in Iraq under U.N. authority — which is the precondition for key allies to send troops. And Paul Bremer, who oversees Iraq's reconstruction, told The Washington Post that it was going to cost "several tens of billions" to rebuild Iraq. Both men were telling the American people truths that should have come from the White House.
Our Iraq strategy needs an emergency policy lobotomy. President Bush needs to shift to a more U.N.-friendly approach, with more emphasis on the Iraqi Army (the only force that can effectively protect religious sites in Iraq and separate the parties), and with more input from Secretary of State Colin Powell and less from the "we know everything and everyone else is stupid" civilian team running the Pentagon.
There is no question that we would benefit from a new U.N. mandate that puts U.S. forces in Iraq under a stronger U.N. umbrella. It would buy us and our Iraqi allies more legitimacy, as well as help, and legitimacy buys time and time is what this is going to take.
It's about time that he understood how serious things are. But secterian violence is the least of our problems. The Shias blame, correctly, the Baathists and Al Qaeda for the attack. But they blame the US for the utter lack of security in the country. There are 300,000 Shia at the beginning of three days of funerals for their dead. The end of that mourning period bodes ill for the US.
Friedman only saw the possibilities, he didn't see the downside. Well, the downside is here and it's as bad as we imagined.
posted by Steve @ 11:29:00 AM