Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"The occupation is lost but the war can be won"

This is how, in a nutshell, Daniel Pipes formulates his position on the Iraq war in his latest article. The article is worth reading because it offers ideas previously never discussed by a mainstream commentator.

To Pipes' credit, he never was gung-ho for the "democratize Iraq" project and he brought up quotes going way back to the first Gulf war to back this up. When one reads them it is rather remarkable to see how most predictions he made were fullfilled. (And just for the record, his father, Richard Pipes, also said that the democratization project is a fantasy and that it would never work). However, one can not help asking Mr.Pipes: "Why did you confine your arguments to your website and a couple of publications? Why didn't you use your influence and your prominent status to trigger-off a real debate about Iraq?" The answer would be that Pipes is too much immersed in the establishment to make any serious waves and when crunch-time comes, he goes with the mass by inertia and if all goes well he jumps on the bandwagon and if it turns to the sour he can say "I told you so".

This is not the only qualm I have with this article. Pipes, as with many of his essays, contradicts himself in a later paragraph:

With the occupation a half-year old in October 2003, I forecast that “the mission in Iraq will end in failure” because the Iraqi motivation to remove coalition forces greatly exceeds coalition motivation to remain. “The US-led effort to fix Iraq is not important enough for Americans, Britons, or other non-Muslim partners to stick it out.”


But if Pipes first says that the occupation itself is an ill-concieved idea, and that Iraq can not be changed, how can motivation play any part? No amount of will-power will make the realities of Iraq go away, it should be obvious from the start.

And thirdly, Pipes' idea itself has it's down-sides. I am not a military expert and I will not comment how re-deploying US forces into isolated garrisons will effect their overall mobility but some of the new objectives Pipes believes the US should take are already beyond reach. "Secure, stable and decent Iraq" was lost with the dissolution of the entire power structure in 2003. The Shia parts are de facto and Iranian client-state, so much for containing the Iranians. And how does Pipes plan to fight Al-Qaeda from far-out bases? Surely he does not believe they are stupid enough to attack US soldiers under such cricumstances. Also, note that Pipes doesn't say "defeat Al-Qaeda" which practically means the US will be in the region forever. For what purpose? And will they be able to keep the casualties low for the duration?

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