POSTWAR IRAQ….It seems like every few days for the past month I’ve heard about yet another administration proposal to “finally” get the UN involved in Iraq. The latest one was announced today, and this time it’s apparently being driven by the military:
A senior administration official said that Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had recently begun lobbying key members of the administration to support a U.N. resolution. The official added that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have become “much more interested in this than before,” because they know a new resolution is necessary for them to attract new peacekeeping forces to Iraq.
Yeah, I’ll bet they’re more interested than before. I wonder why?
I suppose this is good news, since at some point even the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld axis has to listen to the commanders on the ground when they tell them that things aren’t going so well. The problem is that it’s hard to feel optimistic about the success of this initiative. After the events and bad blood of the past year, there’s going to be a ton of resistance to getting the UN involved from several key countries ? some justified and some just out of pique. It’s not easy to see a compromise that will satisfy both the international community’s desire for some level of genuine control and the Bush administration’s fetish for total control.
And while we’re on the subject of postwar Iraq, if you want to know why we were so badly prepared as events unfolded, check out Jason Vest’s article in The American Prospect from last week:
As images of the bombed United Nations headquarters in Baghdad appeared on television last week, my thoughts turned to a conversation I had with a very senior national-security official (a political appointee with no military experience, not a career bureaucrat) prior to the invasion of Iraq. He earnestly told me that after Saddam Hussein’s fall, Americans would be welcomed in Iraq, and not with a fleeting shower of goodwill but with a “deluge” of “rose water and flowers” that would last in perpetuity. Ahmad Chalabi and American advisers would set up shop to oversee a transition spearheaded by scores of returning Iraqi exiles, who would transform Iraq into a profitable, oil-pumping society. After all, the official said, this wasn’t Afghanistan, where there were lots of religious and tribal differences among the local populations. We wouldn’t need to stay long, and we certainly wouldn’t need the United Nations — which, as far as this official and his compatriots were concerned, could go screw itself. The United States could handle it all. Within a year, he said, Iraq would be a beacon of democracy and stability in the Middle East.
Read the whole thing, which explains how the army wrote a report last October that predicted pretty much everything that ended up happening in postwar Iraq, and how the administration’s hawks simply scorned and ignored it. Rose water and flowers indeed.