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Getting the Job Done in Iraq
Publication date: 2004-06-02

When one drops a bottle of milk on the floor, and the bottle breaks, and the milk is spilled, one does not call the picking up of the broken pieces of glass and the wiping of the spilt milk off the floor "completing the job". One calls it "clearing up the mess".

The latest attempt to justify the Iraq war advanced by Tony Blair is the need to "complete the job".

This suggests that the Iraq war was a justifiable legal act. But the only true reasons for that war were incompetence and dishonesty of the politicians who started that war. So, if Tony Blair wanted to be factually correct, rather than "politically correct", he should be talking about "clearing up the mess in Iraq which we have created because of our incompetence and dishonesty", not about "completing the job".

Tony Blair believes that to "succeed" one should never admit any wrong one has done, but always keep justifying one's actions by saying something which sounds "nice", or "politically correct". Just like a crooked market trader who turns rotten apples on his stall the good side up, rather than throwing them away. But will those who having brought the apples home and discovered that they are rotten will want to buy more apples from the same market trader?

And it is precisely this tendency of Tony Blair to turn the bad apples the good side up, that has lead the members of Tony Blair government to start talking about Tony Blair being an "electoral liability", and speculating about his departure and an alternative party leader. And it is for the same reasons that the popularity of George Bush is on the decline.

But what is still more important is that the "success" of the "clearing up the mess" in Iraq, on which Tony Blair has staked his, and George Bush's, reputations, depends on the view of the Occupation Forces by the Iraqi people.

Because of the lawlessness with which the war was started, because of the lawless behaviour of the Occupation troops, most Iraqis, and increasingly the rest of the world, see them for what they are - lawless invaders and occupiers. Appointment of a native government by the occupation forces will make no difference. Many occupiers who intended to stay in occupation indefinitely had done that - tried to rule an occupied country through a "native" government. - The Americans in Vietnam. The Germans in the occupied by them countries of Europe in World War II. The Russian Communists in Eastern Europe. The European colonial powers in their colonies. They have all tried it - and failed.

It could well be that, at this stage in the war, the Americans would sincerely like to withdraw, as long as this withdrawal is not seen as a "defeat", so as to save their own "face". But, the only way they can succeed in that task is to have a truly "voluntary" support of at least some substantial part of the Iraqi people. But this cannot be achieved by presenting "clearing up the mess" as "completing the job".

The only way that Tony Blair and the Americans can regain the respect and trust of the Iraqi people, and of rest of the world, is by openly and loudly admitting their crimes, and saying:

"Yes, we have done a big mess in Iraq. We admit it.
We want to abandon our criminal behaviour.
We want to become honest people.
And we want to clear up all the mess we have created."
This should be followed by a total personality change within Tony Blair himself and within the American administration. The incompetent and dishonest politicians will need to become honest and competent administrators.

Without such inward "regime change" the task of "clearing up the mess" will fail. And "completing the job" will turn out to be "continuing to create more mess" and leaving the task of "clearing up all that mess" to the Iraqis themselves.

Just as it happened in Vietnam, where the mess created by the Americans was in the end cleared up by the Vietnamese - but not by the ones appointed by the Americans.


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