The writer of an analysis piece on MSNBC notes that an Iraqi friend asked this of post-invasion Iraq:
“Are the Americans so smart that they have a plan for Iraq that’s so complicated that I don’t understand it, or are they so stupid that they have no plan at all?”
The writer related the story of an American military officer who understood the plan to defeat Iraq but didn’t know what we’d do once we had done so.
My Iraqi friend refused to believe it, insisting that the United States must have a secret, genius plan to serve its long-term interests in the Middle East. “If America weren’t clever, how could it be a great power?” he asked rhetorically.
Although the plan does have a certain genius about it, it shouldn’t be a secret. Although not touted too loudly very often, I believe that the secret genius plan is nothing more than giving Iraqis the opportunity to live a productive, fulfilling life where their children have every opportunity to have it better than their parents.
Today’s early hand-over of power, though largely ceremonial, probably means that the US flag won’t be getting any additional stars in the near future. How’s an empire supposed to grow if we keep giving back the nations we conquer?
The article also notes
It took British forces four years (November 1914 to November 1918) to defeat the armies of the crumbling Ottoman Empire.
While that’s entirely true, it might be worth noting that Britain was simultaneously occupied in a little place called the Western Front at the time. The Ottoman Turks were not very high on the priority list. Operations in the Middle East didn’t begin getting enough men or materiel until very late in the war when certain British leaders began looking for places other than the slaughterhouses of France and Belgium to send troops. And in the end, of course, neither Britain nor France were at all interested in independence for any of the people in the Middle East.
This hand-over of power is just one more step in the direction we want to go. I noted in December that the capture of Saddam might have been the end of the beginning. I think that turned out to be more or less accurate. If we get to January and find legitimate Iraqi elections and a respectable Iraqi military force, it will be the beginning of the end. And the end phase will probably take a generation (or two).