Iraq Is An Imperial Project
From George Packer’s latest in the New Yorker.
David Kilcullen, an Australian counter-insurgency adviser who served on Petraeus’s staff in the first half of the year, said, “The real question is not withdrawal dates or troop numbers. The real question is: What do we want Iraq to look like once we don’t have a hundred and sixty thousand troops there?
Thought experiment: Imagine reading an Iraqi newspaper or Iranian magazine in which one of their high-ranking Army officers posed the question: “What do we want the US to look like?” Preposterous, of course. They don’t have the world’s biggest army. As a practical question, it’s a moot point. But more than that, as a fundamental matter of principle, I think we’d all agree that “what the US looks like” is not for Iraqis or Iranians to decide.
I don’t mean this to say we don’t have any vital interests in Iraq and let’s just pull out and leave the wogs to their fate. We have deep moral obligations to the people of Iraq, something that I imagine every one agrees on. But even those moral obligations continue to be articulated within the larger framework of Empire. We have been answering the question of “What do we want Iraq to look like?” for 16 years now, and the answers haven’t been particularly beneficial to the Iraqi people.