Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Memo to Bush: Security is More Than Mere Rhetoric

Today's grim news out of Iraq is that at least twenty five individuals were killed by insurgents today. Among the dead were civilians, police, and a government official...

Over at Needlenose, there's an interesting thread which began with a post by Swopa. In it, "guest blogger" J. Thomas (who apparently no longer posts at The Radical Center), makes several significant observations--and yeah, I've said similar stuff here, but Thomas does an excellent job of summing it up:

The rule is, if you occupy a foreign nation it's your responsibility to maintain order. It isn't the responsibility of random foreign nationals not to be disruptive. It's your responsibility to maintain order and protect civilians from each other.

If you have reason to think you can't do that, then don't occupy that foreign nation...

The international law position is, "You break it, you own it." It's your job to make the occupied nation a safe place for its citizens, against whatever criminals happen to arise. It isn't your place to do airstrikes against cities that are temporarily controlled by criminal groups. It isn't your place to do counterbattery artillery fire. It isn't your place to torture civilians who might have information about the criminals. Rape is right out. If you can't run a humane occupation, then you're wrong to run an inhumane one.

It isn't that you're supposed to make an agreement with the criminals. It isn't that it's OK for you to do atrocities if they do. If you want to destroy a regime, and you don't have the resources to actually get a replacement, then don't do it.

Of course Saddam had done atrocities against "his own people." Saddam doing it that doesn't justify us doing it. Terrorists doing it doesn't justify us doing it. If we aren't strong enough to beat the Iraqis without doing war crimes ourselves, then we have made a mistake.

See, it isn't just squeamishness. If we can't win without war crimes, then it's real unlikely that we'll get a result that's worth the cost. . . .

. . . Our violations of international law here are entirely our choice. We didn't have to invade and occupy when we weren't ready to do the job right. Now we're stuck with it and we don't know how to do it, and our atrocities aren't even getting us the results we need.

And, to stay ON topic for once, I'd like to also point out this from Your Right Hand Thief. In it, Oyster cites a couple of pieces from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, one of which asserts that the problem with Iraq at this point is NOT anything that can be fixed, patchwork style. Instead, what we have is a general policy failure, brought about by ongoing neo-con hubris. We will be paying for this policy failure for some time.

So, the next time you hear Bush or one of his proxies mouth off about "the enemies of freedom," or other such drivel, remember that they've done NOTHING to counter the descent into anarchy that is the story of today's Iraq. While they pat themselves on the back for "removing Saddam," they've ignored the very real problems that have resulted from this--problems they'd been warned about but chose to ignore.

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