The continuing Iraq debacle

I can’t look at anything about Iraq without finding it depressing. Three years later we’ve 2500+ US soldiers, a few hundred other coalition troops, thousands of Iraq police and army and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed.

The power supply is bumping along at near pre-war levels (its better outside Baghdad and much worse in Baghdad). Few other indicators are better than pre-war. – for these stats check the Brookings institute Iraq Index.

I’ve never believed that the external imposition of “freedom” was likely to succeed. While I believe that Iraq should be democratic, I think the Iraqis have to come at it on their own, and I question the real value of democracy if it is simple majoritarianism, rather than liberal democracy with basis rights of individuals respected. Better than dictatorship, but a long way from we in the West think of as a democratic state.

Then we read this leaked memo from the US Embassy in Iraq to the White House, and I begin to question whether the continued occupation has past the point where it is more hindrance than help to establishing a viable state for Iraq.

Another, a Sunni, said people in her neighbourhood are harassing women and telling them to cover up and stop using cell phones. She said the taxi driver who brings her every day to the green zone has told her he cannot let her ride unless she wears a headcover. A female in the PAS cultural section is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats.

Staff members have reported it is now dangerous for men to wear shorts in public; they no longer allow their children to play outside in shorts. People who wear jeans in public have come under attack.

In April, employees began reporting a change in demeanor of guards at the green zone checkpoints. They seemed to be militia-like in some cases seemingly taunting. One employee asked us to get her some press credentials because the guards held her embassy badge up and proclaimed loudly to passers-by “Embassy” as she entered. Such information is a death sentence if heard by the wrong people.

Link to the memo via tigtog at LP.


4 Responses to The continuing Iraq debacle

  1. hc says:

    Saddam did one good thing – he banned religious fanaticism. But I think most Iraqis are fairly balanced in their vreligious stance. There is much inter-marriage between Shia and Sunni – we should not desert these people (a) because they are worthwhile and (b) because allied intervention created this situation.

  2. Steve says:


    If I was confident that we can stop this occuring, rather than merely delay it a few years I would agree 100%. At some point whether its 1 year or 10 the Iraqis will be left to their own devices. Will they be ready 10 yeras from now? Maybe, but I don’t think its clear we aren’t just delaying at huge cost.

  3. Rod Clarke says:


    I agree with your general take on this, however, something that I have been considering of late is your point:

    “I have never beleived in the External imposition of freedom, Iraqis should come about it themselves”

    I just cant see this happening anywhere in the 3rd world.

    Because I think that modern offensive weapons such as AK47’s, RPGs and roadside booms are so powerful and so abundant and cheap in the 3rd world, (aparently an AK47 costs USD15 in Nigeria) in addition irregular soliders are also cheap.

    What would happen if you literally plunked the Balmain penisula down in the 3rd world, with its rule of law, property rights, schools, hospitals, police, 1st world social infrastructure, and all manner of abundant positive externalities etc etc?

    With modern offensive weapons an irregular army of 40 child soliders a warlord could own it in a matter of days.

    100-200 years ago people power mattered in attaining and maintaining peace (as opposed to war) and I argue that democracy grew out of this people power.

    I dont think its the same now.

  4. Rod Clarke says:

    I guess what I am saying is that 150 years ago 2 guys with muskets could impose there will over 5-10 non musket holding people and approx 1 acre of land.

    Above this people power could rise up and take them

    Today 2 guys with AK47s could impose their will over 50+ people and 5 acres of land. Simply because of the vastly increased capacity (both volume and distance) of modern weapons project force.

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