Wednesday, January 26, 2005
"PLAN B------T"

Dave Schuyler of The Glittering Eye posted on a bit of fuzzy headed nonsense today regarding an alternative plan B to having a democratic election in Iraq from Abu Khaleel of Iraqi Letter to America. I don't blame Mr. Khaleel for wanting foreign troops to leave his country in a general sense but I'm having a hard time crediting that his Plan B is meant with any seriousness. Here it is, my comments will be in regular text:

"1. US maintains present course and status for a month but will only act in self defense and to preserve the peace and will not go after "insurgents" or carry out random searches and arrests, etc. during that month."

Unilateral concessions to a multiheaded, 4GW insurgency of notorious inhumanity will result in the insurgency becoming the de facto government in waiting. Any latent Iraqi will to support a democratic regime will fold as local notables go into hiding or flee for their lives to avoid the inevitable killing fields style massacres that will begin as the Americans withdraw. Capital will flee too, so whatever nascent economic activty that currently exists in Iraq will vanish.

This is already a dumb plan. Not just for Iraq but for anywhere.

"2. US announces and implements an immediate freeze on the building of permanent military bases in Iraq. If there is no such intention (!) they can publicly and categorically state their policy in this regard."

This would be a relatively meaningless concession though I'm not sure if either the Bush administration or Abu Khaleel realizes it.

"3. The US goes to the UN to help establish, within 2-4 weeks, a "International Council for Iraq" (ICI). Two alternatives are possible:"

Been there and done that several times already. Legitimacy does not flow from the UN, it flows from the consent of the governed. In any event, the radical Islamists and al Qaida view the UN as an " un-Islamic " Western puppet show. The Baathists too have every incentive here to keep fighting as they simply do not want the Yankees out of Iraq, they want us out and a Sunni-Baathist dictatorship in power.

"A council of 15 members each nominated by a UN Security Council member state and approved by a majority of the other members.

A council of 5 members of internationally respected figures nominated by the UN General Assembly and approved by the UN Security Council.

This council is to act as the supreme authority for running the country in the interim period of 6 months."

A rearrangement of deck chairs and catchy UN-speak acronyms.

"4. The US reiterates its intention to withdraw completely from Iraq at the request of the ICI or a democratically elected government."

So the insurgency can kill them with less inconvenience.

"5. Work out a UN Security Council resolution to "guarantee" the continuity of democracy in Iraq, under chapter 7 of the UN Charter (which authorizes the use of force). This is to guarantee that no military coup or other means of force are used to overthrow the newly born democracy of Iraq for a number of years. Iraq is already an international problem in many respects."

The quotation marks were well-placed by Mr. Khaleel. The guarantee will be worth about as much as the paper resolutions in stopping a military coup by the ARVN - sorry - new Iraqi army, to say nothing of stopping the insurgents.

"6. Place the Multi-national forces now in Iraq as well as the Iraqi army, police, etc. under the political authority of the ICI."

The track record of UN peacekeepers in Rwanda and Bosnia comes to mind here.

"7. The ICI is given an international mandate for six months to establish a democratic government in Iraq, without any conditions on its conduct apart from the objectives mentioned above and normal financial auditing."

We will go through all these diplomatic charades to do in six months exactly what will be done on Sunday ( and should have been done six months ago). Actually the ICI personnel would not survive to form a democratic government unless Mr. Khaleel intends that they will govern Iraq from New York city.

"8. Let this "council of the wise" find its own solution without interference or pressure. I would only like to add that all its deliberations and activities should be made public."

If I was Collounsbury and not Zenpundit I would as what kind of childish, fucking, nonsense is this ? Since I am not I will instead point out that councils of "wise men" get things done behind closed doors because the sort of messy but necessary deals required to achieve the greater good of stabilizing Iraq cannot get done with Chistine Amanpour sticking a microphone in everyone's face on CNN live feed. That's why they are wise men and not bloggers kibbitzing from the sidelines. This whole fantasy is little other than UNtopian wishful thinking that would accelerate Iraq toward a full-scale civil war.

Dave Schuyler had a good analysis:

"The invasion of Iraq, the removal of Saddam Hussein, and the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq is our Plan B. We abandoned our long-standing Hamiltonian Plan A on dealing with the Middle East before noon on September 11, 2001. This was the realist plan that Brent Scowcroft among others continues to foster. Been there. Done that. Ain't goin' back there anymore.

Plan B is GWB's Wilsonian plan for remaking the Middle East and, as we learned in his second inaugural address, the world. The success of Plan B is not assured. It will receive its next great test at the end of this week. If in the succeeding weeks and months it proves to be a failure, I don't anticipate our re-trying it under UN auspices (as Abu Khaleel suggests) or returning to Plan A. I think I know my countrymen well enough to believe that our distrust of the UN is sufficient that Abu Khaleel's Plan B is a non-starter. And I believe that 9/11 taught us that economic realism is too slender a twig for a re-trial of that.

No, if the grand plan for democratization is seen to be a failure, I think it's far more likely that we'll go to Plan C which will be founded on one of the other historic strains of American foreign policy: the Jeffersonian or the Jacksonian. The Jeffersonian (isolationist) response will leave the rest of the world to stew in its own juices. And I won't outline what a full Jacksonian response would be. All I'll say is, Abu Khaleel my friend, you wouldn't like us when we're angry."

Economic connectivity, like democracy, will create cultural change in the Arab world but for that to happen we need to establish security first. If not in all of Iraq then at least in a reasonably large portion of it, gradually shrinking the zone of entropy and death over time.
Schuyler's commentary is dead on. Idealism is the new realism, no matter what Helprin et al would say. Viva la Revolucion!!
Yes, this is the post I refrained from writing. I suspect that Abu Khaleel has bought the Western press's account of things wholesale. I'm reminded of what Vaclav Havel said: “We [the Czechs] learned about French security assurances back in 1937.”
My personal beliefs lead me more toward Jefferson or Jackson (depending on the day of the weeek). However, the real issue is how much support President Bush has from the American people to continue his approach. I have my doubts as to how much longer the support will last. If this new Iraqi government is not able to field an effective army/security force within the next year (which we have failed miserably at), then I believe support will drop dramatically.

Hi ZenPundit - not posted here before, but I did think of this article (from last summer) when I read your most recent post, and I thought you might be interested - obviously be interested in your take, as well:


regards, London_Calling
Welcome back Nem

Yes, I was impressed with Dave's post. I very much liked his use of Presidential administrations to define foreign policy paradigms. Reminded me of _Promised Land, Crusader State_ except it was a better conceptual shorthand.


First, thank you for the Guardian article - it was a good use of time to read. My comments:

Paul Kennedy is obviously an impressive and deep thinker as well as an honest scholar who changes his ideas when they are tested against reality. A rare quality.

At a certain fundamental level democracy is very transferable as a concept - is the government making life better or worse ? The difficulty we who wish to see that concept spread,take root and succeed face - and I include myself in this number - is that achieving a *stable* democratic system depends to varying degrees on other values existing in the social contract.

Social systems where the implicit cultural rules already favor such values as a non-zero sum personal outlook, tolerance, communal or individual responsibility,delayed gratification and altruism are more likely to adapt successfully to democratic governance.

This is not to say that societies without such values can never adapt to democracy but their road is going to be a good deal bumpier and longer.( The more tangible immediate benefits that can be seen from democratization in this type of society the better.) Zero sum worldviews are a particularly a difficult obstacle to overcome - moreso than a simple history of authoritarian rule - because they emotionally ramp up all political questions to matters of life or death and prevent rational win-win compromises.

Democracy is helped, I would argue, by liberalization policies that create economic growth and not, as in Russia, colossal looting by politically connected elites. Democracy and market liberalization in turn, require strengthening the rule of law - this may be one of the most important variables. I think people of my general background undersetimated how important this was because Eastern Europe already had this tradition of the rule of law to some extent when the Soviets withdrew. Likewise the confucian-culture " Tigers " of Asia.

Confidence in the impartiality of the justice system and consistency of the legal rule-set goes a long way to encouraging positive risk-taking behavior - both economic and political.

So, now that I've rambled on, I'd say Democracy is probably an interdependent phenomena in bringing failing or Gap states into the modernized Core world.
Great work on your blog - it was very enlightening. You've got a lot of useful info on there about Chapter 7 so I've bookmarked your site so I don't lose it. I'm doing a lot of research on Chapter 7 Exposed and have just started a new blog - I'd really appreciate your comments
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