Albin Guest Editorial From Japan Model

Albin Guest Editorial: From a Japan Model to a Decent Interval

Roger Albin of the University of Michigan Medical School writes:

‘ Gilbert Achcar gives the Bush administration too much credit. This is not a divide and rule effort. The initial Bush plan (if you can call anything formulated so poorly a plan) was modeled on the occupation of Japan.

Leaving aside the absurdity of this analogy, they intended to govern through an existing centralized state apparatus, just as Japan was governed by MacArthur after WWII. Of course, they forgot that the Kurds, the most reliable supporters of American intervention and whose statelet has flourished under American protection, would never consent to a powerful central state in Baghdad. They forgot that the Shiites, who would play a major role in any situation where open or even semi-open elections occur, have very good reasons to be averse to a strong central state. When the initial efforts predictably failed, they’ve been left with desperate and largely unsuccessful improvisations to create some kind of viable state. What you have now is not even a divide and rule effort to maintain control. It is partly more desperate efforts to rescue some kind of Iraq nation and partly a Nixonian search for a face saving exit.

Khalilzad is probably sincere in his efforts to obtain a viable Iraqi state (his competence is another matter). His masters are a different story. A major driver in the White House and Republican Party is undoubtedly domestic politics. Far from a divide and rule strategy, the real goal is withdrawal of some American troops prior to the 2006 elections. The goal then will be to withdraw American troops prior to the 2006 elections in a way to obtain what the Nixon administration called a “decent interval” so that the collapse of the Iraqi state is not too temporally close to American withdrawal and can be blamed on the incompetence of whoever is left behind in Baghdad rather than on the reckless American leadership who started this mess.

Roger Albin
University of Michigan ‘

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