Presented by Lapham's Quarterly and the Institute for the Future of the Book

Table of Comments

Total Comments in Report: 92

Comments on

1. Performance on Milestones

Go to Text

Once again, Republican economic dogma tops all. This report is a veritable compendium of vague hopes, wishful ideas, and sketchy solutions…save when it comes to an anti-inflation program. Then we see hard numbers, and demand for a regimen that will come down hardest on the average Iraqi.

Go to Text

This preference for “temporary” bases (and, elsewhere in the report, “advisers” instead of combat troops) may go down well with an American public. But it is noteworthy that “bases” and “advisers” are exactly the concepts that historically have prompted the angriest Iraqi reactions against foreign powers’ interference, as seen during the British mandate and the subsequent period of “informal” influence that brutally came to an end in 1958.

Go to Text

Given its own assessment of the current situation, the ISG
recommendations in this section seem less than serious. The administration has tried milestones, it’s tried ordering the Iraqis to do lots things it thinks would be good for them. It’s told the Shia leaders to embrace the moderate Sunni and visa versa; it has bent to Shia demands, then to Sunni, but all it has done is to convince both sides that the US can’t be trusted. The only thing it hasn’t tried is threatening the government with a withdrawal of support if it doesn’t do what is asked. Some US military commanders in Iraq believe such a threat – backed up by actual withdrawals – is the only way to convince Iraqis of the need for national reconciliation. Perhaps. But it seems just as likely – or more so – that, faced the threat of US withdrawals, Iraqi leaders may conclude that their only hope for security lies in beefing up their own militias – at government expense and with government police and army units. And if the threat of withdrawal doesn’t work, the US would be left with no leverage at all.