According to the ever-prescient Washington Post, the United States gummint (in the form of the Bush Regime) has decided to let Iraqis solve “some” of their problems — including what their government ought to look like:
In the year since President Bush announced he was changing course in Iraq with a troop “surge” and a new strategy, U.S. military and diplomatic officials have begun their own quiet policy shift. After countless unsuccessful efforts to push Iraqis toward various political, economic and security goals, they have decided to let the Iraqis figure some things out themselves.
From Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to Army privates and aid workers, officials are expressing their willingness to stand back and help Iraqis develop their own answers. “We try to come up with Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems,” said Stephen Fakan, the leader of a provincial reconstruction team with U.S. troops in Fallujah.
In many cases — particularly on the political front — Iraqi solutions bear little resemblance to the ambitious goals for 2007 that Bush laid out in his speech to the nation last Jan. 10. …
Although some progress has been made and legislation in some cases has begun to slowly work its way through the parliament, none of these benchmarks has been achieved. …
In explaining the situation, U.S. officials have made a virtue of necessity and have praised Iraqi ingenuity for finding different routes toward the same goals. Iraqis have figured out a way to distribute oil revenue without laws to regulate it, Crocker has often noted, and former Baathists are getting jobs. Local and provincial governing bodies — some elected, some not — are up and running.
Gasp! Iraqis actually cobbling together their own government, and finding solutions to their own problems, without the help of overpaid democracy consultants and advisors from the finest agencies and think tanks and their pimply-faced, politically connected project managers in Washington? Making their way without American help? And Team Bush is allowing this?
But some of the democracy consultants, the aspiring (and actual) proconsuls of empire, are not happy with this turn of events. It appears by letting the Iraqis concoct their own solutions, Washington has abandoned them to “sectarianism”:
U.S. officials at various levels are pushing the idea for different reasons, said Sarah Sewall, director of Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and a Clinton-era Pentagon official. While Petraeus has embraced the notion out of “realism,” Sewall said, she thinks the Bush administration “has recently arrived at this formula out of desperation — due to the failure of its past efforts.”
Ah yes, the “failure of past efforts,” such as the desire to impose a perfect Heritage Foundation agenda on Iraq — the kind of place Steve Forbes would have been happy to be president of. No doubt had a Gore administration had invaded and occupied Iraq (and I believe that a President Gore would have done so), they would have striven mightily to impose their notion of good governance on the country. Just as intolerantly. And failed just as spectacularly.
The traditional military belief, [one U.S. diplomat said], was that “if you just bring enough resources to a problem and get the right approach, the outcome is guaranteed. But it’s very, very frustrating for them, as it is for all Americans, for members of Congress, because we are expending so much on this exercise, and we want to know that we’re going to achieve something good.
“But we are learning,” the diplomat said. “We are a pragmatic people at the end of the day . . . [and] you don’t get anybody ever to do something they don’t want to do.”
There were those of us in late 2002 and early 2003 who were saying exactly this as the country prepared (discussed would not describe adequately what happened) to invade and occupy Iraq. There are those of us who were opposed to the entire venture from the get-go for this very reason. This is NOT how you do good. This NEVER how you do good. And this is never how you try to do good. EVER.