Michael Ignatieff’s Sunday New York Times Magazine piece has some important insights into the coming war with Iraq.
– It requires a political committment lasting several administrations.
– To succeed, the U.S. will have to engage the entire Middle East:
a) Convince Iran no to feel threatened by a United States-led democracy on their border.
b) Reassure Turkey that we won’t create a Kurdish state which would be a threat
c) Encourage Syrian-Israeli peace
d) Coax Saudi Arabia into democracy
And even if we do all of that, unseating an Arab government while the ignoring Israel-Palestinian conflict will still lead to tremendous anti-U.S. backlash.
To achieve our security aims in Iraq really means to act as a hegemon over the entire Middle East — and a successful hegemon which is viewed benevolently.
My own view is that this is impossible, but that’s a tentative conclusion open to debate. The important point of the article is the need to broaden the discussion to the aftermath of an invasion of Iraq. Understanding the long-term scenarios and consequences is the only way to evaluate whether the campaign is advisable.
The current administration plan, outlined in today’s Times, is to occupy Iraq (possibly with U.N. administrators) for a year and to keep the current state and most of the current government in tact. It seems that a unitary state might be less of a threat, and certainly less aggressive towards neighbors than breaking it up. However, it’s a short-sighted committment which will either grow beyond the administration’s statements or fail, and it’s unclear how democracy (and thus an end to threats) can be achieved in a year with the current bureaucratic infrastructure remaining in tact.
(Thanks to Jon Utley for pointing out the article, since I didn’t get around to yesterday’s Times.)