The insurgency in Iraq and global pressure to end the civil occupation are forcing the Coalition to abandon key goals in order to meet a summer deadline to transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqis, according to the Washington Post:
The United States has backed away from several of its more ambitious initiatives to transform Iraq’s economy, political system and security forces as attacks on U.S. troops have escalated and the timetable for ending the civil occupation has accelerated.
Plans to privatize state-owned businesses — a key part of a larger Bush administration goal to replace the socialist economy of deposed president Saddam Hussein with a free-market system — have been dropped over the past few months. So too has a demand that Iraqis write a constitution before a transfer of sovereignty.
With the administration’s plans tempered by time and threat, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, and his deputies are now focused on forging compromises with Iraqi leaders and combating a persistent insurgency in order to meet a July 1 deadline to transfer sovereignty to a provisional government.
Plans often change during and after battles, and a number of these goals could have been categorized as “blue sky” even before the Iraq war began. Some, such as privatization of industry, sound less negotiable. Privatization is necessary to ensure private property rights, which is a cornerstone of a free society and helps to establish a firm basis for pluralism. However, reality intrudes on this goal, as the article explains well. Privatization at this stage would necessarily result in layoffs, and the last thing that the Coalition needs is more unemployed Iraqi males for potential recruits into the insurgency.
The only issue that should have been demanded by the US as a condition of the end of occupation is the enactment of a constitution, but even that may have been pointless. Had the US refused to end occupation until it was drafted, most of the country probably would have felt free to disregard it as a duress-produced document. The Afghanis seem to be working towards their constitution on their own through the loya jirga process. Undoubtedly this has encouraged the Coalition that the Iraqis may be able to handle it on their own as well, with guidance from the US rather than civil occupation.
The summer deadline seemed like a rushed, politically expedient time frame for the Bush administration, and may still be that, but it is also apparent that without a fixed and quick timetable, we would not get much cooperation from either the Iraqis or other nations on issues like debt relief. In the end, it is most important that we retain a large measure of influence with the new Iraqi government after the end of the occupation, and extending our occupation surely would be counterproductive to that. Unlike the occupation of Germany and Japan, we are still in the middle of a war in the area, and we need to demonstrate that we do not come to conquer but to liberate. Ending the occupation on our own terms and with the support of the majority of the Iraqi people helps to underscore that.