Aparisim Ghosh on leaving Iraq

I just read through the Dec. 11th issue of Time Magazine (I get them second-hand, so I’m usually further behind than that), and correspondent Aparisim Ghosh’s Viewpoint – “What We Would Leave Behind” – says (better) what I said a few posts ago; namely, that a withdrawal of US forces from Iraq won’t stop the violence, and would probably make it worse. “If the Iraqi government can’t stop sectarian killing today when it is able to call on the world’s most powerful military, it can hardly be expected to do so once the Americans have left.” Further on, he writes: “…some Sunni groups dedicated to fighting U.S. troops have already begun to recalibrate their gunsights. One of the largest Sunni insurgent groups, Islamic Army, dramatically changed course last week and called on its followers to wage a ‘battle of destiny’ against Shi’ites for control of Baghdad.”
He ends by saying “The Americans created this mess; it’s their responsibility to fix it.” That’s true of recent history, but something of an oversimplification. In 1920, the League of Nations ‘partitioned‘ the Ottoman Empire, and the borders it somewhat arbitrarily decided on are basically the ones still in place today. Western involvement in the region goes back much further than that, but the 1920 partitioning illustrates well the rock and hard place we (westerners) are stuck between regarding Iraq & the rest of the formerly colonized world. It is, if not entirely, then certainly mostly our fault that the ‘third world’ is in the state it’s in. Part of the reason places that used to be colonies are poor today is that a colony’s economy is set up to benefit the mother country, and that state of affairs persisted beyond decolonization; and poverty is a gateway to a host of other problems. (Anyone remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?)
So colonialism created the problem; but our attempts to fix it – to spread democracy and western economic structures – are seen as neo-colonialism. And if we throw in the towel, we have the blood of innocents on our hands. What’s the right way forward?


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