Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The Case For Iraqification 

Daniel Pipes makes the case for transferring power to the Iraqis in his latest column. I've always been a big fan of Dr. Pipes, so I found his points very reasonable. I wrote last Sunday that I prefered the "Macarthur model" of occupation. In a sense, I still do, but as I said even back then, "it is politically impossible for that to happen these days."

However, I think Dr. Pipes is still somewhat overly optimistic about the transfer of security responsibilities. For example, he thinks that Coalition forces should withdraw from inhabited areas and set up their bases in the desert. This would be fine if the current insurgency was aimed primarily at the Coalition presence: the average Iraqi would not be caught in the crossfire, and it is much easier to defend against an attack when you're surrounded by sand, not people. However, attacks against such targets as the UN and ICRC demonstrate that the insurgents intend on attacking average Iraqis too. The Iraqi security apparatus, IMHO, not yet reached the quality level needed to convince Iraqi citizens that they are safe without Coalition help.

Dr. Pipes also failed to cover the fact that the current moves towards Iraqification has a strong taste of political motivation. If this is a cover for militarily getting out of Iraq completely, it should be condemned in the strongest words possible.

However, his argument for giving power on the ground to the Iraqis is sound and pragmatic. He knows things can go wrong (in which case, he argues for the Coalition in the desert to intervene), and he doesn't have grandiose hopes of a Jeffersonian democracy in Mesopotamia (something that I admit that I am not immune against). But he does think that Iraqis, given the opportunity, have the ability to create, not necessarily Utopia, but the best country that the Arab world has ever created. That, indeed, is already something to be proud of helping to bring about.

Dr. Pipes is visiting UBC in two weeks! It's probably the only exciting event in the next few weeks (as opposed to exams and term projects!).
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