Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Iraq Occupation...Forever

By Cernig

Reuters has the report from the White house on the plan to stay in Iraq forever:
President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in Iraq like the one in South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role, the White House said on Wednesday.

...White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush would like to see a U.S. role in Iraq ultimately similar to that in South Korea.

"The Korean model is one in which the United States provides a security presence, but you've had the development of a successful democracy in South Korea over a period of years, and, therefore, the United States is there as a force of stability," Snow told reporters.

Josh Marshall has the complete rundown on why a South Korea-style occupation won't work in Iraq.
Let's run through a few differences. First, Korea is an ethnically and culturally homogenous state. Iraq, not a culturally or ethnically homogenous state. And needless to say, that has been a point of some real difficulty. Second, Korea a democracy? Well, yes, for about fifteen years. Without going into all the details, South Korea was a military dictatorship for most of the Cold War.

A deeper acquaintance with the last half century of Korean history would suggest that a) a fifty year occupation, b) lack of democracy and c) a hostile neighbor were deeply intertwined. Remove B or C and you probably don't have A, certainly no A if you lose both B and C.

The more telling dissimilarity is the distinction between frontline troops and troops for stability. At least notionally (and largely this was true) US troops have been in South Korea to ward off an invasion from the North. US troops aren't in Iraq to ward off any invasion. Invasion from who? Saudi Arabia? Syria?

No, US troops are in Iraq for domestic security, in so many words, to protect it from itself, or to ensure the continued existence of an elected, pro-US government. That tells you that the US military presence in Iraq will never be as relatively bloodless as the US military presence in Korea since it has no external threat it's counterbalancing against. In a sense that the US deployment in Korea has never quite been, it is a sustained foreign military occupation.
And we here at The Newshoggers were talking about all this on Saturday, including pointing out what those differences will mean in real terms.
The differences between Iraq and South Korea being, mostly, that the Iraqis are still likely to be using those American super-bases for target practise decades from now, ratcheting up the casualties a few at a time, and that the bases in Iraq will be a provocation destined to create more Islamist terrorists by their very existence than their occupants will ever manage to kill.
As commenter Zeitgeist over at the Carpetbagger Report points out, this has been the Bush plan all along, they just knew it would be political suicide to mention it before now - when they know the Democratic party will cave to any pressure:
The politics of this would be comically bad were it not so serious a matter. Can you imagine if BushCo had been remotely honest with the American public in late 2002 and said “We are planning to invade Iraq not because they have WMD or are an immediate threat to us, but because Saddam Hussein is a bad man - nevermind our past support - the world will be a safer place without him. The downside is that his removal will leave Iraq in sectarian chaos and all told it will cost us thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars to try and stabilize the country. In the end, I anticipate a Korea-like solution where we have several thousand peacekeeping troops there potentially for 20-30 years. I trust the American public will support me in this.”

Maybe, just maybe, the public would have gotten off their asses and into the process for that one.
Maybe they will now. And maybe Dem leaders will rediscover their vertebrate genetics.

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