American Occupational Hazards
Karin von Hippel of Open Democracy explains the hazards of post-war military occupation of Iraq.
The US administration led by President Bush came to office in January 2001 with an attitude of scorn towards the ‘nation-building’ efforts of its immediate predecessor. It is therefore a supreme irony that President George W. Bush is now embracing plans for a US military governor to run Iraq, in a way that is reminiscent of General Douglas MacArthur in post-1945 Japan.
In defining Bush’s security strategy at the start of his administration, Condoleezza Rice wrote (in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2000):
“The president must remember that the military is a special instrument.
It is lethal, and it is meant to be. It is not a civilian police force. It is not a political referee.
And it is most certainly not designed to build a civilian society.”
Ouch. That doesn't play well anymore. And there's more...
The avoidance of any manifest US occupation of Iraq is crucial to thwart what could otherwise become a successful recruitment campaign by al-Qaida. Such an occupation would serve to enrage Islamic extremists, while humiliating moderate Muslims, and increase anti-Americanism in many parts of the world. A UN-led, Nato-controlled, administration in Iraq – backed by a serious US-commitment, would remove that perception.
The Washington Post of 26 February 2003 retrieved a criticism of Al Gore by his rival candidate on the very eve of the presidential elections of November 2000. George W. Bush then declared: “Let me tell you what else I’m worried about: I’m worried about an opponent who uses nation building and the military in the same sentence”.
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