Nicolas J S Davies

A collection of published articles and letters to policymakers regarding the crisis in United States foreign policy by Nicolas J S Davies.

Location: North Miami, Florida, United States

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Letter to Congress on U.S. Defeat in Iraq

The Hon. Kendrick Meek
1039 Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC 20515

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Dear Kendrick,

So, a little more than a year after it began, the U.S. occupation of Iraq is effectively over. Like their predecessors, the inexperienced troops who just rotated into Iraq were misled about the nature of their mission, and they have swiftly lost control of two major cities, three main highways, and, to varying degrees, much of the country. They are unable to supply larger forces than the small detachments deployed around Falluja and Najaf, and any further military victories will in fact prove to be decisive defeats in the political and economic struggle for Iraq.

All that remains to be determined by the United States is whether we will leave the field like a gentleman defeated in a fair fight, ruffled but dignified, through some face-saving arrangement with the United Nations, or whether we will behave like a spoiled child denied a new toy, and lash out at the people who are saying “No” to us. Our country’s history gives some clues as to how our government may behave. President Nixon’s “Peace with Honor” exit strategy from Vietnam took six years, and left millions of people dead, cities in ruins, arable land defoliated and poisoned, and two neighboring countries destroyed for good measure. We must hope that our country has grown up in the past 36 years, and that we learned enough from this history to avoid repeating it.

As to the future of Iraq, we should leave that for others to determine. New Iraqi leaders have emerged during the current crisis: Ayatollah al-Sistani; Abdul-Karim al-Mohammedawi, the “Prince of the Marshes”, who led resistance to Hussein in the southern marshes; Dr. Salama al-Khufaji, a chador-wearing Professor of Dentistry at Baghdad University; the Sunni Islamic Clerics Committee, who have been managing U.S.-Iraqi negotiations in Falluja; and many of Iraq’s tribal leaders, who have acted responsibly to avoid bloodshed throughout this difficult period. These Iraqis have established their political legitimacy by maintaining their independence from the U.S. occupation. Al-Mohammedawi has suspended his membership of the occupation’s “governing council”, and an aide to Muqtada al-Sadr told his congregation that “Salama al-Khufaji’s shoe is of more value than the entire council”.

In any case, the fate of Iraq must of necessity be out of our hands from this point on. We can take some credit for the creation of a united front of Shia and Sunni, and an independent Iraq may belie the fears of civil war that were used to justify the U.S. occupation. We have some homework to do now to learn the lessons of this episode. Strategies of unilateral invasion and military occupation by great powers had diminishing success through the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, and we clearly cannot rely on them in the 21st century. On the other hand, a new American commitment to the development and rule of international law and to multilateral cooperation and institutions could indeed provide a stable basis for the future. I realize that this would require a historic restructuring of U.S. foreign and defense policy, and it is one that I would wholeheartedly welcome.

Yours sincerely


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