Democrats & Liberals Archives

Premature Pull Out

In an effort to forestall disruption of the handover of sovereignty to Iraq, and probably still smarting from the embarrassment of the last elaborately staged event, L. Paul Bremer quietly handed over the keys to Baghdad two days early, and then quickly left town before the door could hit him where the good Lord split him.

So what's changed? Maybe not much, but possibly quite a bit. Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority was a fairly moderate government in the midst of a region that has seen very little moderation in anything lately. Prime Minister Allawi, and many of the former Iraqi Governing Council members who make up the new interim government, have already shown an unwillingness to give up power. Allawi is currently considering martial law, curfews, and bans on demonstrations, and if you add that to his recent unwillingness to commit to a firm date for national elections, you have the makings of a new, Saddam-like, strong man and president-for-life.

I believe it was a mistake for President Bush to hand over sovereignty before at least establishing security, an uncorrupt judiciary (we can't even trust them to keep Saddam locked up), and a stable economy. Continued violence threatens to delay elections beyond next January, and a scandal involving the whereabouts of billions of Iraqi oil dollars is already brewing. Iraq could easily go the route of most oil rich countries in the region: a non-transparent government ensuring riches and power for a corrupt few, and poverty and discontent for the rest.

If Afghanistan is any indicator, it's clear that US troops, probably more than are currently in Iraq, will be needed to ensure a peaceful handover to an elected Iraqi government and to protect this fledgling democracy. The outcome rests on President Bush resisting political expediency, as he failed to do when he pulled US troops out of Fallujah and Najaf thus creating refuges for terrorists and insurgents, and when he handed over Iraqi sovereignty to an unelected, unrepresentative government.

Posted by American Pundit at June 29, 2004 4:34 AM