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Some challenges to Dr Pipes' ideas

Reader comment on item: Tempering Ambitions [in Iraq]

Submitted by Stuart Fagin (United States), Nov 12, 2006 at 09:43

I appreciate the arguments Dr. Pipes make but would present these challenges to them;

(1) Therefore: Iraq needs - and I write these words with some trepidation - a democratically-minded Iraqi strongman. This may sound like a contradiction, but it has happened elsewhere, for example by Atatürk in Turkey and Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan. (April 28, 2003 - A Strongman for Iraq)

Our presence in post-Saddam Iraq could only be understandable to (and supportable by) the American people as a project to establish democracy in Iraq. Had we adopted Dr. Pipes' plan of selecting a reasonably popular Iraqi as strongman head of state (albeit as a longer term transition to democracy) we would have been judged as installing our own dictator to replace Sadam; in essence a Quisling. The elections are the only possible basis for our assertion that we are not an occupying force; that our military presence is by the consent of the host country population; just as it is in Germany, Japan and South Korea. Absent such an argument the American people would not support a military presence in Iraq and through its representatives would cut off funding for such. Think back on how little legitimacy the Alawi government was thought to have

(2) Transfer some seed money and station coalition forces in the deserts with a clearly defined mandate—defend Iraq's international borders, ensure the security of oil and gas exports, search for Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, prevent large-scale atrocities.

I had also thought this should be our plan ; that our military should be sequestered into safe strong points with the limited mission of preventing invasion or foreign-inspired coup. I believe otherwise now. Without our military presence in-country the murderous Sunni and Shia militias would greatly intensify the current carnage. Ultimately the Irani supported militias would prevail. Iraqi Shia leaders resisting the Irani-backed militias would be murdered. Other Shia leaders would soon arrive at an accommodation. Do not the actions of Maliki in protecting the al-Sadr militias from the coalition military portend this result? Although an al-Sadr led government might not be an Irani puppet, it would almost certainly evolve into a full-fledged terrorist-supporting state and we would be told to leave the country. If all this comes to pass it would seem the Iraqi enterprise had accomplished little.

(3) Talk of a "free and prosperous" Iraq serving as a regional model foisted ambitions on Iraqis that they—just emerging from a thirty-year totalitarian nightmare, saddled with extremist ideologies, deep ethnic divisions and predatory neighbors—could not fulfill

Dr. Pipes stresses the factors intrinsic to Iraqi culture as the basis for the present unrest. Do not factors extrinsic to Iraq, namely the Iranian and Syrian wholesale support of insurgent militias, provide a more important basis? How would the insurgency fare if such support did not exist? Also, can we infer from the fact that those Iraqi political parties whose policy was to insist on the immediate evacuation of coalition troops fared so poorly in the elections? Or that polls regularly indicate widespread Iraqi support for democracy? Perhaps the Iraqi cultural repulsion towards democracy is not so dominant. Finally, why is there so little public outrage directed at Iran and Syria for their undermining of a nascent democracy through their arming, funding and promotion of the insurgencies?

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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