Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!

2007-08-14

The Tenuous Case for Strategic Patience in Iraq

Anthony H. Cordesman

I hear a lot of really good interviews on the Charley Rose show on PBS. Particularly concerning Iraq. Last night, Dr. Anthony Cordesman was Charlie's guest and opined extremely well, I thought. I highly recommend watching the segment (by the way, he sounds uncannily like former President Gerald Ford).


Among the exchanges between them is the following:


CR: What is our moral responsibility in this circumstance? Because so many people, Iraqis and others, have depended on the United States?

AC: Again, I think Colin Powell made the point before we went to war about the idea that if we break it,...

CR: We own it.

AC: ... we own it. Well, we broke it.

CR: And now we own it.

AC: We own it, and we also are talking, again... We took a country with a dictatorship and because we focused only on one narrow idealogical goal—elections: our concept of trying to transform the government—the end result was to create an unworkable political system, to have no clear plans for dealing with the economy, for not addressing in time, or effectiveness, the differences that tore this country apart. And anyone listening to you can calculate the percentages: 2 million exiles, 2 million displaced, 8 million impoverished, unemployment at at least 30%. Getting rid of a dictator is an achievement. Destroying the core of a country is a massive moral and ethical failure.

[Several seconds of silence]

CR: And we've done both.

AC: The good news is Saddam is gone; the bad news is 27 million people.

Dr. Cordesman has just returned from Iraq and published a trip report titled The Tenuous Case for Strategic Patience in Iraq, which further outlines his case.


Everyone sees Iraq differently. As one leading US official in Iraq put it, "the current situation is like playing three dimensional chess in the dark while someone is shooting at you."...

From my perspective, the US now has only uncertain, high risk options in Iraq. It cannot dictate Iraq's future, only influence it, and this presents serious problems at a time when the Iraqi political process has failed to move forward in reaching either a new consensus or some form of peaceful coexistence....


[T]here is still a tenuous case for strategic patience in Iraq, and for timing reductions in US forces and aid to Iraqi progress rather than arbitrary dates and uncertain benchmarks....




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