[Marxism] Former General Sees "Staying the Course" In Iraq as Untenable (WSJ)
walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Apr 29 00:56:09 MDT 2004
(A retired general warns the WALL STREET JOURNAL
that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is untenable.
It's a sign of a profound malaise among people
in this milieu. Looking for analogies here can
be problematic, but it sure begins to look like
Stalingrad here, doesn't it? And wait until the
weather turns really hot? How will the Marines
handle some of the hottest weather in the world?
"Iraq experiences some of the highest temperatures
anywhere in the world. These scorching conditions
are often accompanied by a persistent dusty,
northwesterly wind, the shamal, which adds to
the unpleasantness. Heat exhaustion and even
heatstroke are hazards."
(The general urges a unilateral declaration that
the US will leave Iraq! An prophetic article.
I just saw THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS for the first
time since I was in college in the sixties and
I walked out thinking: this is THE BATTLE OF
FALLOUJAH! The US planners, Bush, Powell and
Co. are organically incapable of understanding
this simple truth: PEOPLE DON'T LIKE LIBERATORS
WHO COME BEARING BAYONETS. And Washington is now
spread perilously thin internationally...)
April 28, 2004
WALL STREET JOURNAL
By JOHN HARWOOD
Former General Sees
"Staying the Course"
In Iraq as Untenable
April 28, 2004; Page A4
The time to worry is when Washington politicians on all
sides agree. So when John Kerry echoes President Bush in
arguing that the United States "can't cut and run" from
Iraq, maybe it's time to listen to someone who says we
Maybe it's time, in other words, to listen to retired Gen.
William E. Odom. It is delusional, asserts the Army
veteran, college professor and longtime Washington hand, to
believe that "staying the course" can achieve President
Bush's goal of reordering the Middle East by building a
friendly democracy in Iraq. For the sake of American
security and economic power alike, he argues, the U.S.
should remove its forces from that shattered country as
rapidly as possible.
"We have failed," Mr. Odom declares bluntly. "The issue is
how high a price we're going to pay. ... Less, by getting
out sooner, or more, by getting out later?"
His is not the voice of an isolationist, or a peacenik, or
Republican-hater. He is talking from the conservative
Hudson Institute, where he was hired years ago by Mitch
Daniels, later Mr. Bush's budget director. His office
displays photos of Ronald Reagan, under whom Mr. Odom
directed the National Security Agency, and Jimmy Carter,
on whose National Security Council staff he served.
Rather, his unsettling view reflects a broader reassessment
of America's predicament as Iraq looks ever-uglier. It can
be seen as well in U.S. Administrator L. Paul Bremer's
tacit admission of error in disbanding the Iraqi Army and
Mr. Bush's new reliance on United Nations help.
Mr. Odom opposed the Iraq war before it happened. An expert
in comparative politics who teaches at Georgetown and Yale,
he warned that there was no reason to expect that Iraq
could soon develop the ingredients for constitutional
democracy: individual rights, property rights and a
tax-collection system supporting a government to enforce
them. The violence of recent months, he concludes, has
exposed Mr. Bush's vision of doing so as a dream.
Following the planned June 30 handover of nominal
sovereignty, Iraqis may go to the polls and vote. But the
result, Mr. Odom explains, will resemble theocracy more
than liberal democracy. As televised images of Iraqis
cheering attacks on U.S. troops suggest, it's not likely to
be anything Americans would consider worth the war's cost
in blood and treasure.
"Anybody that's pro-American cannot gain legitimacy," he
says. "It will be a highly illiberal democracy, inspired by
Islamic culture, extremely hostile to the West and probably
quite willing ... to fund terrorist organizations." The
ability of Islamic militants to use Iraq as a beachhead for
attacks elsewhere may increase.
But can't U.S. troops there tamp down such hostile
activity? Well, yes, he says -- at a cost of rising
hostility to the U.S. throughout the region.
"It probably will radicalize Saudi Arabia, [and] it could
easily radicalize Egypt," Mr. Odom says. Violence yesterday
between security forces and terrorists in Syria hinted at
what may come, heightening dangers for Israel and the U.S.
Iran might agree not to stir trouble among fellow Shiites
who are 60% of Iraq's population -- provided the U.S. eases
its hostile stance toward Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Yet the stakes, in Mr. Odom's view, are much bigger.
The longer U.S. troops hang tough, he reasons, the more
isolated America will become. That in turn will place
increasing strain on international economic and security
institutions that have undergirded the emergence of
"America's Inadvertent Empire," as Mr. Odom's latest book
calls it. "I don't know that the UN, the IMF, the World
Bank, [or] NATO can survive this," he says.
His proposed solution sounds initially like Mr. Kerry's: a
call for the U.N. and European allies to take charge of
political and security arrangements. What's different --
even Bushlike -- is that Gen. Odom would accompany that
request with a unilateral declaration that U.S. forces
would leave even if no one else agrees to come in.
Such a move, he concludes, might even provoke an unexpected
result a year after Mr. Bush brushed off opposition from
France, Germany and many others to oust Saddam Hussein.
"The Europeans might get scared [of chaos] and go in," Mr.
Odom says. "There'd probably be a big effort to try to
rescue" Mr. Bush. But U.S. troops would be gone within six
months in any event.
It is a jarring prescription. But ask yourself, as bullets
fly in Najaf and Fallujah, which sounds more credible: Mr.
Odom's gloomy forecast, or Mr. Bush's prediction of
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Harwood is political editor of The Wall Street
John, 45 years old, was born in Louisville, Ky., and grew
up in the Maryland suburbs of the nation's capital. He
began his journalism career as a copy boy at the Washington
Star while in high school. He studied history and economics
at Duke University and graduated magna cum laude in 1978.
Following graduation, John joined the St. Petersburg Times,
reporting on police, investigative projects, local
government and politics. Later he became state capital
correspondent, Washington correspondent and political
editor. His assignments ranged from presidential campaigns
to unrest against the apartheid regime in South Africa,
which he visited three times during the 1980s.
In 1989, John was named a Nieman fellow at Harvard
University, where he spent the 1989-90 academic year. He
joined The Wall Street Journal in 1991 as White House
correspondent. He subsequently covered Congress and
national politics, and became national political editor in
1997. He has reported on each of the last five American
John lives in Silver Spring, Md., with his wife and their
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