By Domenico Maceri
The almost daily deaths of American soldiers and the missing weapons of massive destruction remind us that the Iraqi adventure was a huge mistake. The situation is getting worse by the day and Bush would be very smart to claim victory and let the U.N. bring about peace in the troubled country.Although the major hostilities in Iraq have been over for several months in part because of the superior ability and materiel of the American soldiers, bringing peace and nation building are beyond the resources of our country.American soldiers in Iraq are very vulnerable to the guerrilla warfare which is continuing. It뭩 not clear whether their attackers are terrorists who entered Iraq from other countries or Iraqis loyal to Saddam Hussein. In any case, our soldiers are in danger because the enemy is not a traditional army, which is what our soldiers have been trained to fight.In addition, the limited number of soldiers and the military commitments all over the world means that American soldiers in Iraq are tired and ready to come home. Some soldiers have complained bitterly about having to stay in Iraq much longer than their leaders had predicted.Aside from the human investment, the price tag for the reconstruction is turning out to be significantly higher than originally anticipated. The 87 billion dollars Bush requested to rebuild Iraq and which Congress has approved, shocked many Americans. Spending that amount to rebuild a country, which Americans view as having one of the richest oil reserves in the world, makes people wonder why we are not spending the money to fix our own infrastructure.What makes the price tag shocking is also the sorry state of the economy since Bush became president. In spite of Bush뭩 huge tax cuts, the economy is very shaky and the budget deficit may reach 500 billion dollars. The general feeling is that we cannot afford to rebuild Iraq.
In essence, he wants the U.N. to bail him out, but so far the response has been negative. Only a handful of countries have pledged to help militarily or economically. Most of the 14 billion dollars pledged at the Madrid conference consists of loans.In spite of Bush뭩 unilateral action in Iraq, the U.N. has little choice but to provide help. Its role in the world is to promote peace and it뭩 very good at it. But even if the U.N. takes over the major responsibilities in Iraq, the task is not going to be easy. The challenge will be to find countries willing to send soldiers, which will not be viewed by Iraqis as having ulterior motives.Thus, Turkish soldiers would be unacceptable to the Kurds. Also unacceptable would be soldiers from countries which have economic interests in Iraq. That would include France, Germany, and Russia, which had signed economic deals with the Saddam Hussein regime and would like them to be honored.American companies, which have been given contracts by the Bush administration to rebuild Iraq, are in the same dubious situation. In essence, Iraqis need to feel that whoever goes to help them, has no political or economic designs in their country.The Iraqi war has been a learning experience. The initial military "success" made people think that similar military interventions could occur in other countries, notably Syria, Iran, or North Korea. Although the hawks in the Bush administration might have had plans for such military actions, the situation in Iraq and the cost will certainly temper those plans.
Other Articles by Domenico Maceri
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Domenico Maceri, Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara, teaches foreign languages at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. His articles have appeared in many newspapers including Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Japan Times, and The Seoul Times. Some of his stories won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.
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