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Showdown in Najaf
(Tom Regan, Christian Science Monitor, April 13, 2004)
Rory McCarthy, in an analysis for the Guardian, said some of the US's main problems in Iraq have been a "rigid adherence to military doctrine that has repeatedly caused problems," combined with a lack of diplomacy, and an inability to form strategic alliances. . . . George Lopez, international security expert at the University of Notre Dame in the US, told the Associated Press: "We have taken a low-level cleric and made him into a national symbol of resistance against the Americans, just before an Islamic holy day. And we have backed al-Sistani, our one major hope for preaching calm and patience among the Shiites, into a corner." . . . Fareed Zakaria, writing in Newsweek, also says this "rigid adherence" to a particular set of ideas about the way to move forward in Iraq can also be found in the White House. . . . The Bush administration went into Iraq with a series of prejudices about Iraq, rogue states, nation-building, the Clinton administration, multilateralism and the UN. It believed Iraq was going to vindicate these ideological positions. As events unfolded the administration proved stubbornly unwilling to look at facts on the ground, new evidence and the need for shifts in its basic approach. It was more important to prove that it was right than to get Iraq right. . . . Anne Penketh, the diplomatic editor of the Independent, looks at four possible scenarios for Iraq, including "Continued occupation," "Cut and run," "UN takes over," and "A fudge." Ms. Penketh writes that the "fudge" option is the most likely outcome. . . . Fudge: Escalating conflict means crisis management comes beforeplanning. Handover postponed as conflict deepens while talks with the UN bog down. Troop reinforcements discussed but not dispatched. Insurgents and terrorists are emboldened, sensing the occupiers are on the run. Tom Friedman, columnist for The New York Times, writes that both sides need to change their tactics. The US needs to reach out for international support, and Arab nations around the region have to realize that a positive outcome for Iraq is in their best interests. . . . And that's why the Arab leaders need to talk to their sons and daughters. If the Arabs miss yet another decade of reform, because Iraq spins out of control while the world speeds ahead, they will find themselves outside the world system and dealing with plenty of their own Fallujahs. Talk to Arab youth today, and you will find so many of them utterly despondent at the complete drift in their societies. They are stuck in a sandstorm, where opportunities for young people to realize their potential are fading.

posted by Lorenzo 11:12 AM

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