Saturday, July 30, 2005

Iraq Can Survive This

"Friday, July 29, 2005; Page A23

Two weeks ago, I received a bleak message from an Iraqi Sunni friend named Talal Gaaod. It worried me because Gaaod has been working hard for the past two years to rally Sunnis to support a new Iraqi government. But as the country has drifted deeper into anarchy this summer, Gaaod's confidence has been shaken.

The rough language of his e-mail conveys the situation better than a hundred polished Pentagon reports: "The political process, and the American project, it has failed," Gaaod wrote. "Believe me, there is no need to waste anymore one penny of the American taxpayers' money and no more one drop of blood of the American boys." He added: "Continuing on the basis to build a democratic process in securing the country, it's only a dream."

Gaaod argues that the violence has become so brutal that it's no longer possible to talk about political solutions, at least in the short run. Because U.S. forces have been unable to contain the insurgency, ordinary Sunnis have been intimidated and overwhelmed. The only weapons the insurgents lack now are armored vehicles, but Gaaod fears they may get those soon, too.

Gaaod argues that the pragmatic solution is martial law, in which generals drawn equally from Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds take control of security. The military men would work with a government of technocrats. Until order is restored, the Iraqi businessman insists, it's useless to talk about loftier hopes for the country."


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