Monday, April 14, 2003

Editorial: Hating Us For Our Freedom

Now as the dust settles in Iraq, and the occupation plans are being drawn up, the US finds itself with a perplexing problem. The task of rebuilding Iraq and installing a stable democratic government is not a small one. This is not a nation that is ready for democracy. The political environment has been decimated by decades of brutal one-party rule. The economy has been ravaged by 12 years of severe sanctions. The bureaucracy has just been purged by the US. To rebuild properly will require a significant deployment of manpower and material resources over a period of years. And it will require the US to provide strong leadership and guidance to the fledgling Iraqi government. If the US abandons Iraq and the nation collapses into chaos and civil war, the US will take the blame for this.

On the other hand, as a force that unilaterally occupied a sovereign nation without legal justification and at the protest of most of the international community, the US will be expected to quit the country as soon as possible. Already the US is regarded as a colonial occupier by many in the region. Various European nations are requesting that the US turn complete control of the situation over to the UN. The US presence in Iraq is considered illegitimate and the longer they remain, the more strongly the occupation will be condemned. And so Ari Fleischer will whine endlessly to reporters, "You see! We're damned if we do, we're damned if we don't. We can't stay and we can't leave."

The problem is, this situation was easily foreseeable. It did not arrive out of thin air. When the US decided it did not need it multilateral support for this action, it decided that legitimacy was not important to them. And in doing so put at risk the ability of the US to effectively rebuild Iraq. It was the administration that put itself in this position. But the White House will no doubt spin this situation into just one more demonstration of the rampant anti-Americanism that has taken over the rest of the world. One can only wonder whether this will be an act of clever manipulation or one of paranoid delusion...

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