Iraq and Afghanistan, the two main fronts in the global war on terror, both suffered over the past year. Their experiences show that billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy.Reuters notes that "Iraq suffered a third straight year of deterioration in 2006" and had fallen from fourth place last year. Iraq scored highest (worst) in four out of twelve key indicators - group greivances, human flight, security apparatus and external interference. It also scored badly in human rights, having factionalized elites and the delegitimization of the state.
This is after four years of occupation - and no sign of betterment in the next decade.
Today in the UK's Guardian newspaper, there's a report on Jay Garner, the former US general appointed two months before the invasion to head reconstruction in Iraq, who believes the country is on the brink of a genocidal civil war and its government will fall apart unless the US changes course and allows a three-way federal structure. He also reveals that the US state department official in charge of postwar planning was prevented from joining Garner's team by Donald Rumsfield. The article is also full of details on how the British were aghast at the lack of planning for Iraq post-invasion.
Yet America's bi-partisan elite continues to profess that a U.S. troop presence is needed in Iraq, despite there being no end of evidence that the presence of foreign occupying troops is one of the key destabilizing factors there. Indeed, they continue to profess that American military might is a necessary factor in "fixing" the entire Middle East and so a bigger military is needed.
You would think that the last four years of failure to make peace grow from the barrel of a gun would have disabused the elite of these notions, but apparently not. They continue to blame other factors for that failure - most especially the Iraqis. It's a common refrain in the U.S. that, perhaps, the Iraqi people in particular and the Middle East in general aren't psychologically and culturally able to accept democracy. No-one seems to seriously consider the most likely other possibility - that Americans are culturally and psychologically unable to export the concepts of freedom, democracy and self-rule effectively at this time in their nation's history.
Still, on the bright side, somewhere in Iraq today a school - with no teachers and only a few students who haven't fled or aren't too scared to go outside - got painted.