The US troops have begun departing Iraq shouting “we won, it’s over”; Obama says he will withdraw the remaining 50,000 troops end 2011; and in Afghanistan he stands by the promise to “begin” withdrawal in 2011. Alas, as the pithy old southern American saying goes, “it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings” (originally a southern church saying!).
The remaining 50,000 US troops in Iraq are allegedly there to “support” and train the Iraqi army and are to deploy their weapons only in self defence or at the request of the Iraqi government. They are there, according to the US government today, “to protect our investment of $1 trillion”! In other words they will still be a combat unit. There is no way the Iraqi army will be able to cope with the continuing and increasing insurgency without the involvement of US military.Even the Iraqi military commander stated that Iraq will not be able to fend for itself until 2020!!! In fact we could well see the return of additional troops in the not too distant future as the situation deteriorates. A government in Iraq does not even exist several months after the so-called elections and in my view there will never be a government which will satisfy the dissident elements in that region. I say region because it is not a nation in the strict definition of nation state. It is a collage of diverse cultures and if they are to survive they must form separate states.
In Afghanistan there is similar spin amidst utter failure. As in Iraq there is no functioning government, there is not even a government that controls territory beyond Kabul. Karzai announced yesterday there would be no election polling in 900 districts because the safety of the people could not be guaranteed in those areas. The army, such as it is, is even less reliable than that in Iraq. The Taliban is gaining strength; the western provinces of Pakistan are a hidey hole for the Taliban and with the pathetic response to the floods by the Pakistani government the Taliban has thousands of new sympathisers and supporters. I would not be surprised to see a military coup in Pakistan and/or a government supported secession of the western provinces. If the latter were to occur, it would assure the Talibanisation of Afghanistan. Then, the US would be faced with either the prospect of an expanded land war of attrition with dwindling resources and increasing debt, or turn tail and leave. A radicalisation of Pakistan would be even scarier with the very real risk of a regional nuclear conflict involving India.
Since any US administration would be tarred with the charge of “losing” Iraq or Afghanistan (Vietnam redux) by the opposition the only way they could exit with any degree of grace would be at the request or demand of governments in those countries. In the case of a Talibanised government in Kabul that could be easily done, so they should work with Karzai to cobble together a coalition. Iraq should simply be partitioned and an agreement made amongst the three states to share oil revenues, the big bone of contention.
Democracy, an alien concept.
Democracy is contrary to the cultures of many countries and attempts to seed it there can only lead to instability and greater suffering by the population. If it is to develop at all, it should come from within as a natural progression not from external intervention by the messianic West. The West tries to portray democracy as an almost divine right and inherent part of human nature when in fact it is a concept that only came into vogue on our planet in the West during the last 500 years long after the rise of homo “sapiens” 500,000 years ago. Of the some 200 countries in the world some estimate the number of democratic government to be only 50-60 and some of those frequently suffer relapses from time to time.