Friday, March 18, 2005

Two Years in Iraq

U.S. Department of Defense Official Website
It's two years since the United States and Britan went from words to action and attacked the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.

The war went comparatively easy and victory was swipt. But for the world's premier power to defeat a third-class army of a third-class regime wasn't really that sensational.

To win the peace after the war has proved to be a far more difficult challenge, as we are all painfully aware of. To say that policy planning and execution has been smooth would be a blatant lie.

In many ways, it has been a mess. Those of us that have some experience of post-war state-building operations were not surprised by the magnitude of the challenge, but by the naivity with which it was approached.

Nevertheless, there has been progress. The formal occupation has ended. A reasonable election has been held. A government is in the process of being formed. Optimism seems to have increased in Iraq during the last month.

I belong to those that were more understanding of the action two years ago than most.

One of the reasons for that was that I found the possible alternative policy - Saddam in power in his palaces, with the people of Iraq sinking deeper and deeper into despair under the combination of external sanctions and internal repression - substantially worse. It would have lead to some sort of explosion sooner or later anyhow.

Much has been said of the truly massive intellience failure concerning weapons of mass destruction. Rarely has so prestigious institutions been so humiliated as the key Western intelligence organisations on this issue. It will take time for them to recover.

But if no weapons of mass destruction were found, a regime of mass repression certainly was. And its removal was a good thing for Iraq, for the region and for the world.

Now the obligation is to stay the course, defeat the insurgents and terrorist and create the conditions for the Iraqis themselves to build a decent and representative regime.

In the meantime, the link above will make it possible for you to view how the US Department of Defense wants to present the situation in Iraq two years after the start of the war.