The Bigger Picture: The City in the Global Village


Iraq: From Here To Democracy?

The second gross error of judgement was that there was apparently almost no planning for the rebuilding of Iraq after Saddam - physically, economically and politically. George Bush and his advisers (who hardly merit that description) seemed to imagine that the US would be welcomed with open arms as liberators, and that democracy would flourish spontaneously! Incredible naivety!

Think back to 2003 and the focus of debate, apart from the justification of military intervention, was how difficult it would or would not be to invade and overthrow the regime. The neo-con merchants of 'shock and awe' were doing the rounds of media newsrooms explaining how easy it would be with American high tech military hardware to knock out, not just Saddam, but all unwanted regimes. In the view of the neo-cons American power was transcendent and unchallengeable - another piece of self-deception.

(Dan Halutz, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, made a similar strategic miscalculation in the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.)

The third gross error of judgement was to imagine that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a step which would actually give the US leverage over the recalcitrant neighbouring states of Iran and Syria. On the contrary, the US needs their cooperation if it is to have any chance of stabilising Iraq. (a)

Tony Blair's Israel-Palestine initiative has come and gone. The upcoming US congressional elections in November will give some idea of how the wind of American public opinion is blowing.

Meanwhile the news out of Iraq grows more grim by the day.

Picking Up The Pieces

Here are two links worth following:

Brendan O'Leary's answers to three questions re Iraq: Hard Questions, Uneasy Answers

Lib Dems: A New Strategy for Iraq

posted: 21-9-06

Guess what? A ten-member commission, headed by the former secretary of state, James A Baker, and backed by President Bush, is considering the option of "bringing neighboring Iran and Syria into a joint effort to stop the fighting", according to a report in the Los Angeles Times on 16-10-06. LINK

17-10-06 A poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN shows that only 34% of the American public supports the war in Iraq. LINK

25-10-06 A poll conducted by Communicate Research for The Independent shows that 72% in the UK agree with the statement: Tony Blair’s support for George W. Bush’s policy in Iraq calls into question his political judgement, and that 72% believe that the war in unwinnable. LINK

13-11-06 In his speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet Tony Blair said: 'a major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself but outside it, in the whole of the region where the same forces are at work, where the roots of this global terrorism are to be found, where the extremism flourishes, with a propaganda that may be, indeed is, totally false; but is, nonetheless, attractive to much of the Arab street.

That is what I call a "whole Middle East" strategy.

There is a fundamental misunderstanding that this is about changing policy on Syria and Iran.  First, those two countries do not at all share identical interests.  But in any event that is not where we start.

On the contrary, we should start with Israel/Palestine.  That is the core.'

Either Tony Blair has only lately discovered that Israel/Palestine is "the core" of the instability in the Middle East, or he has known this but nonetheless three years ago he committed British troops to the invasion of Iraq, in the knowledge that they couldn't succeed because the Bush administation's Middle East strategy was bound to fail.

Bush has had exactly the opposite Middle East strategy, which Britain through our participation in his invasion endorsed. Bush believed he could topple the regimes around Israel through the neo-con 'shock and awe' method, and in that way solve the Israel/Palestine conflict in whatever way the Israelis chose to dictate to the Palestinians.

How wrong he was and is.

28-12-2006 An opinion poll for the France 24 and Le Monde reported overwhelming support for the withdrawal of all coalition troops from Iraq:

France 90%


Britain 83%
Germany 82%
Italy 77%
USA 66%