November 19, 2003

The Occupation Go read Jim

The Occupation

Go read Jim Hoagland today. Particularly the part suggesting Jerry Bremer is moving from a MacArthur style Japan occupation to a model based on McCloy's stewardship of Germany.

Money quote:

"MacArthur commanded occupied Japan as if it were an army and had his staff write that country's postwar constitution. McCloy emphasized consensus politics and helped clear the way for Konrad Adenauer and others to assume power. Catapulted into the chaotic conditions of Baghdad in June to replace the more relaxed Jay Garner, Bremer felt he had to play MacArthur for a time. But McCloy is closer to the mark now."

Put differently, a benign MacArthur type (go to Slate link at bottom of archived post).

Also critical, re: keeping the Shi'a side of the equation as quiet as possible:

"These and other steps toward genuine self-government will help break what U.S. officials call the "Sistani logjam." By saying he would not accept any Iraqi constitution written before a return of sovereignty and political control to Iraqis, the influential Shiite Ayatollah Ali Sistani had in effect doomed Bremer's seven-point plan months ago. Sistani has reportedly signaled U.S. officials that the new plan has his blessing, although he has made no public statement."

As Hoagland notes, this doesn't solve our problems with the Ba'athist counterinsurgency. But it does make our life easier vis-a-vis the Shi'a--at least for the time being.

At the same time, the U.S. definitely remains involved enough to continue to help foster conditions that would allow for eventual full-blown (and de facto) sovereignty to emerge--with significantly scaled down U.S. involvement.

The consensus politics, the battening out of differences among the governing council and the like, all will help bring about conditions for a viable, democratic Iraqi polity to emerge.

Bremer will continue to have to navigate a very fine line between occasionally issuing backroom quasi-diktats versus allowing an Iraqi leadership to take root that pretty much calls the shots on all major issues sans proconsul veto.

Meanwhile, the prospects of internecine conflict will remain real. And the risks of a constitution being drafted that is anathema to U.S. hopes for that document will have to be closely monitored too.

But simply handing over full-blown sovereignty immediately, per the French, would doubtless have backfired into the specter of revanchist ethnic killings or other similarly anarchic conditions in wider swaths of the country--helping scuttle the reconstruction effort early on.

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