The Growing Toll of Iraqi Civilian Deaths

Be sure to read the reader comments on this important article by our good friend César Chelala. And thanks, César, for stimulating this discussion. The Growing Toll of Iraqi Civilian Deaths - CommonDreams.org - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

What might be the consequences of a rapid withdrawal of "coalition" (i.e., U.S. and British) troops? Moise Naím has argued persuasively -- it's an easy argument to make -- there's no way that any amount of U.S. assistance will make the Iraqi government prepared to provide security, so the immediate consequence might be an increase in violence -- though how things could get any worse is hard to imagine. I've been impressed by Zbigniew Brzesinski's argument, repeated in several recent articles: the U.S. military presence is an OBSTACLE to peace, because it relieves the governing faction from the need to negotiate with its foes. If the government has to defend itself, all by itself, it will either come to terms with its many and varied attackers or succumb, in which case the victors may form some new government. Or, most likely, we may see a repeat of the Somali experience, where nobody wins and everybody loses -- that is, no one faction or coalition of factions has the force to conquer.

The U.S. invasion has just compounded the massive errors by previous imperialisms. But here we are: we can't go back and undo any of it, we just have to figure out where we can go from here. Peace in Iraq, whether as a single country or divided into three or more (a very bad idea, it seems to me, but possibly inevitable given the depth of hostility among Kurds and Sunni and Shiite Arabs and Turkomans)--how to achieve it? A first step is to get U.S. & U.K. troops out of there. Negotiated peace will take far more diplomatic skill and sensitivity than the U.S. neocons have so far demonstrated. A coalition force of foreign troops may indeed be needed to assist whatever government(s) emerge. But the first requirement would be NO U.S. or U.K. MILITARY PARTICIPATION. We've demonstrated our massive incompetence and united almost all Iraqis against us.