Friday, July 18, 2003

Worse than a crime—a blunder

Michael Gordon of the Times details the consequences of the diplomatic bungling by the Bush administration (oxymoron!) in mounting the Iraq war. Bush's flubs are costing American lives (and dollars that, thanks to the tax cuts for the richest, we don't have).

The guerrilla war brewing in Iraq is just one reason the American deployment there is shaping up to be larger and longer than anticipated. Another is the tepid international support for the Bush administration's military campaign to topple Saddam Hussein.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last week that he hoped to enlist as many as 30,000 troops from 49 nations. That is the much advertised coalition of the willing and able that administration officials are hoping can help stabilize Iraq.

The problem, however, is that many of the recruits the Pentagon has tried to line up so far appear to fall into two categories: the not so willing and the not that able.

[T]he failure to build broad international backing for the effort also meant that there were relatively few allied forces to help shoulder the military and financial burdens of enforcing the peace. There is a long list of nations that may send forces, but many of the promised foreign deployments are small and largely symbolic. ...

The conflict in Iraq may offer an important, if painful, lesson for future military campaigns, particularly those that involve "regime change" and the arduous nation-building that is needed to cope with the power vacuum that follows. The lesson is that broad international support is not only desirable politically, it can also offer a real military advantage.

And we can be certain (thanks Atrios) that the administration has many more such campaigns planned for their "New American Century."

Or can we?

NOTE: C'est pire qu'un crime, c'est une faute—Anton Boulay de la Meurthe (also attributed to Talleyrand)