The price of US arrogance in Iraq is growing - and we are paying our share

Share
Related Topics
The dilemma faced by the Americans in Iraq - and in which the British are powerlessly trapped - is growing acute. The occupying powers need to win Iraqi hearts and minds so that the process of handing the country over to an Iraqi administration has the confidence of the people. To do that, they need to supply electricity and civil order. But these things require human resources, both to impose law and order for its own sake and to discourage sabotage of basic services. Not to mention the sabotage of oil pipelines that are supposed to be providing the revenue for the reconstruction of Iraq.</p>The obvious source of recruits for this policing function is the Iraqi people themselves. But, while the Iraqis may be pleased that Saddam Hussein is gone, they do not trust the Americans sufficiently to make this an easy option in the short run. Which brings the Bush administration, and above all the Pentagon, round in a wide circle after four months to square one.</p>In a way, it is encouraging that Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, sees this so clearly, in his assessment leaked yesterday: "Lack of political progress in solving the linked problems of security, infrastructure and the political process are undermining the consent of the Iraqi people to the coalition presence and providing fertile ground for extremists and terrorists."</p>Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, who visited Baghdad yesterday, persists in blaming everyone but his own department - which has jealously guarded its rule in Iraq - for this predicament. He complained that anti-American forces from Iran and Syria are infiltrating the country to carry out acts of terrorism. That may be true but it is (a) predictable and (b) not the main point, which is that he has failed to ensure the co-operation of most Iraqis.</p>Which is why other parts of the Bush administration - namely the State Department under Colin Powell - have made some headway by looking for a way out of the impasse. The logic of the situation has pushed George Bush towards the United Nations as a way of trying to persuade other countries to fill the gap.</p>Mr Powell knows that countries such as Pakistan and India are reluctant to supply troops if they will be seen as subordinate to the US army of occupation. Yet the UN option offers no easy way out either. Unless the US is prepared to concede overall authority in Iraq to the UN, the reluctance of other countries, most of whose populations were opposed to the war, to help out will remain. And the US is not so desperate yet that it would grant the UN such power over its own troops.</p>Thus the logic of the dilemma is that the security situation in Iraq will take longer to stabilise than anyone hoped and certainly much longer than the Pentagon planned. And the main burden will fall on the US and its junior partner, Britain. The implication of Mr Straw's assessment is that more British troops will be needed and that the wind-down of numbers since the end of the conflict will have to be reversed. The second implication is that our continuing role in Iraq will cost more money than the Treasury must have expected.</p>These burdens, in personnel and money, will fall even more heavily on the US. But at least the Americans are deciding their own policy, divided, misguided and stubborn as they may be. Because we cannot simply abandon our responsibilities having played our part in the war, we have no choice but to tag along with whatever President Bush's fractious subordinates decide. </p>

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Left in limbo: Refugee children in a processing centre in Brownsville, Texas  

Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Rupert Cornwell
Harman has said her gender affected her employment  

Gordon Brown could have had a woman as deputy PM. He bottled it

Joan Smith
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport