Saturday, September 02, 2006

There’s Always a Plan B

Events have occurred so we can answer the question Thomas Friedman wrote some time back. (I don’t have the date or a link to it since it is behind the NYTimes wall and I cannot find it at their site or in the land of Google.) Anyway, Friedman asked is Iraq like it is because Saddam was like he was, or was Saddam like he was because Iraq is like it is? (Don’t you just love a good turn of phase? Like a fine wine or delicious first bite, you want to just savor it, roll it over in your mind, and appreciate its message and construction.) This eloquently constructed question deserves an equal response in the spirit or least construction of the question’s beauty, but instead it gets the following:

When Iraq went bad – shortly after the take over or the goal of the short sighted – the Neocons showed they had no Plan B. Plan A was that democracy would take care of its self; there was no need for a Plan B. The Neocons must have believed the virtue and moral fiber they saw within themselves as deriving from freedom and democracy would see democracy through in Iraq.

What the Neocons don’t realize is that there’s always a Plan B. In a Worse Case Scenario planners who have no fall back plan must respond as events occur. That's your Plan B if you don't have one. I hope that is not the Neocons plan but I’m afraid it is. However, President Bush need not worry about this in his legacy. His lack of having a Plan B for Iraq will not be high on his list of mistakes.

The Neocons realizes their strategy to fixate on names such as the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Zarqawi, and his final removal, a goal they have harped on for years, meant nothing. The killings and sectarian violence go on even more than before. To admit civil war is to admit defeat and they can’t do that, because they have no Plan B.

The recent unpleasantness with Lebanon, Hezbollah, and of course, Israel moved Iraq civil war off the front pages for several days. Throw in another clash between Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinians referendum on Israel’s right to exist, and of course, Israel, and you got one major distraction. It has taken the heat off the Iraqi story, but of course the situation in Iraq continues to fester. And we’re talking a fester that could spread to the whole of the Middle East

Add to that the Neocons inability to recognize when they are facing the same hitch hiking problem as LBJ (at the bottom of the post) or that they are staring at Powell’s ominous forewarning of ownership of Pottery Barn chards. However, they are claiming the vessel is still whole. You don’t have to fix what’s not broken. They miss the point that they now own it regardless of whether it is broken or not.

The Neocons fail to recognize the open-ended equation of war – especially a war lasting longer than a year. Rarely does a war lasting longer than a year end up as the planners had originally envisioned. Of course, they thought Iraq would be a peaceful, economically viable, politically influential democracy by now. And as David Halberstam wrote in “The Best and Brightest”, war is a government policy, and once a policy of this size develops, it takes on a life of its own and even those that implemented it no longer control it.

Now, others are talking about dividing Iraq along lines of sectarian concentration. Groups are already concentrating in a mass internal migration. Groups within Iraq and those without who have an interest in the eventual outcome should already have their plan as to where the lines will be drawn – and a good Plan B, also. There’s all the oil, remember. Baghdad will most likely be partitioned. With no Plan B, things occur in their own time; the Neocon planners have lost their initiative and must response to events.

And if the people of Iraq can throw off the old identity given to them by the British and declare they are Shia or Sunni or Kurd, that they are Arab or Persian; and they want their country to reflect what they are (and who among us would not want that), so too, others in the Middle East can feel they are justified in throwing off the remnants of colonialism. The old order of families ruling countries may be jeopardized. The Neocons had hoped to start the spread of democracy from Iraq; however, they may have started the spread of something totally else.

We are all going to need a Plan B.
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