2004-09-12

Time to Consider Iraq Withdrawal?

In light of events, the FT asks the critical question:
The aftermath of a war won so quickly has been so utterly bungled, moreover, that the US is down to the last vestiges of its always exiguous allied support, at the time when Iraq needs every bit of help it can get. The occupation has lost control of big swathes of the country. Having decided that all those who lived and worked in Iraq under Saddam Hussein bore some degree of collective guilt, Washington's viceroys purged the country's armed forces, civil service and institutions to a degree that broke the back of the state, marginalised internal political forces, sidelined many with the skills to rebuild Iraq's services and utilities and, of course, fuelled an insurgency US forces have yet to identify accurately, let alone get to grips with.
...
The core question to be addressed is this: is the continuing presence of US military forces in Iraq part of the solution or part of the problem?
While I'm not certain how to answer this question myself, the very fact that it is being asked under force of circumstance tells against the Bush administration's success as an occupying power. The moral legitimacy of going to war (assuming, of course, that war was legal at all) primarily depended, in my view, on all reasonable effort being expended to ensure that substantially better conditions obtained post-war than pre-. While I still believe the case for war was strong, I am now convinced that President Bush failed to meet his obligation at that time to plan in good faith for the post-war period, thereby rendering his ultimate decision to go to war morally illegitimate.

[I suspect Bush is turning me into more of a consequentialist than I otherwise would have been — may Kant forgive me!]

The FT answers their question thus:
Chaos [following withdrawal] is a great risk, and occupiers through the ages have pointed to that risk as their reason for staying put. But chaos is already here, and the power that is in large part responsible for it must start preparing now to step aside and let the Iraqis try to emerge from it.
I'm afraid they are right. When we have come to this point, how is it that polls indicate that more people favor Bush's ability to conduct the war on terror than Kerry's? To my mind his inability is manifest in Iraq and beyond.

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