OPED37 Victory ?:
The war in Iraq will end soon, in days or perhaps in weeks... Right now it is unclear whether it will be necessary to invest Baghdad block by block or whether the regime will suddenly collapse as it reaches SecDef Rumsfeld's "tipping point," leaving only mop-up operations... No matter the timeline the end point is not in doubt, the Saddam regime will eventually be defeated. But "victory" will not be achieved by this relatively simple action. Victory will be hard to define and even harder to attain. What is necessary to ensure a long-term success? The U.S. administration can not content itself with military success, it will have to also achieve positive results in the political arena. Below are some of the pre-requisites:
In conclusion, military victory is near but it would be a mistake to define victory so narrowly. A much larger view and approach will be necessary to ensure a true 'victory', and successes across a whole range of issues will be necessary to parlay the removal of Saddam into a true advance for the Middle East and the United States.
- The U.S. will have to continue the excellent job it is doing at minimizing civilian casualties. Here the danger is that the longer the fighting continues the greater the risk of errant bombs or missiles that create mass casualties.
- The U.S. will also have to find solid evidence of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons that it can show to the world. Given that this was the stated reason for military action, clear, unambiguous, evidence of significant amounts of actual chemical or biological weapons will be necessary... (dual-use or possible chemical factories, or relatively small quantities of chemical weapons will not be enough.)
- The territorial integrity of a post-Saddam Iraq will have to be maintained. The administration will have to make sure to prevent any ill-advised Turkish intervention in the north of Iraq... prevent the Kurds from making any moves towards independence, as well as any Shia break-off in the south. A post-Saddam government will have to carefully be crafted, balancing the influence of Iraqi emigres with acceptable internal parties. The various parties will need to be convinced, and prevented by force if it becomes necessary, to not seek retribution for past injustices... It remains to be seen if the administration will have the finesse to pull this off.
- The U.S. administration will have to take a leading role in addressing other conflicts in the area, in particular the Israel-Palestinian conflict. President Bush (and to a even greater extent Prime Minister Tony Blair) has claimed that action will be taken and progress will be made in this area once Baghdad has been defanged. It will be imperative that the U.S. take a leadership role in pushing the parties to this conflict towards reconciliation and a modus vivendi... Unfortunately good intentions frequently come to naught in this part of the world, and it remains to be seen if the administration has the will or the intestinal fortitude to stay the course. If the U.S. continues to push on the Palestinian side without exerting any pressure on Israel then failure is guaranteed.
- After so much talk of democracy the U.S. in the long run can not remain in bed with the monarchies, dictatorships, military regimes, and semi-democracies in the area, and will have the delicate task of encouraging movement towards democracy in these countries without totally alienating those in power...
- Lastly, the U.S. will have to repair relations with its 'natural' allies, ties that have been badly strained in the run up to war. Of all the points here this should be the easiest by far... However, here the administration has shown a serious 'tin ear,' so it is not a slam dunk..
© SNi 03/25/03