Monday, June 28, 2004

So it looks like we decided to strike pre-emptively and hand over "sovereignty" a couple of days early. Probably a smart move; insurgents undoubtedly had a big party in store for June 30th. Not that they can't still have that party, but it won't have the psychological impact or the potential to disrupt the "handover."

"Handover" in quotes for a couple of reasons. For one, the same reason "sovereignty" gets the quote treatment. Yeah, Iraqis are much more in charge of their own affairs - which is good. Mr. Doom and Gloom isn't trying to downplay that. But of course, many of those in charge are in that position because we helped put them there. And while the government is technically free to do whatever they want, we all know that the US is going to have plenty of influence in helping shape those decisions. I'm not saying this entirely out of criticism; it's just a statement of fact - we weren't going to go through all this trouble only to have no choice in the outcome. Our goal in Iraq isn't necessarily to give Iraqis what they want, unless of course if what they want lines up with what we think they should want.

Then there's the military. We're going to be in charge of the security situation for quite awhile there. No way of getting around that, since we're pretty much the only ones at this point who can even begin to tackle that problem. Even if/when the insurgency dies down and Iraqis have a sufficient military and police force, we're still going to have a significant military presence in Iraq. I don't know if people realize just how long we were in Japan and Germany after WWII (hint: we're still there), but going in and toppling a government tends to lead to a long-term military commitment. While this is, of course, different from the situation we found ourselves in post-WWII, there's no reason to believe that we won't keep a strong contingency over there. After all, one of the goals of this occupation was to be able to set up shop somewhere in the oil-rich Mid East.

The second reason that "handover" gets quoted is because the actual transfer has in many ways already taken place, and the handover ceremonies were mostly just a dog-and-pony show to let everyone else know that things are swell. Things aren't all that swell seeing as how the violence is either maintaining itself or getting worse, but that's pretty much expected. As always, we'll see what happens.

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