Monday, May 31, 2004

General Dischord

William E. Odom, a retired three star general and the head of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration, says that President Bush should "eat a little humble pie," admit the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and seek U.N. forces to take over for U.S. troops. Odom argues that Iraq will never become a liberal democracy. He also warns that "we've also nearly broken the U.S. Army by over-extension and over-commitment."

Below are excerpts from an interview given to the Council on Foreign Relations:

"It was not in our interest to enter Iraq in the first place. It was, however, in the interest of Osama bin Laden for us to destroy a secular Arab leader; it was very much in the interest of the Iranians because they wanted revenge against Saddam Hussein for Iraq's invasion in 1980.

Our presence in Iraq risks turning it into a country that could become the base for terrorist operations and organizations like al Qaeda. Of the three war aims that the president set out-destruction of weapons of mass destruction, overthrowing Saddam's regime, and creating a liberal democracy there-the first has supposedly been accomplished, although it seems to have been accomplished before we invaded; the second, as I just pointed out, was not in our interest, it's more in our opponents' interest; and the third I don't think is possible.

Our creating a liberal democracy there is not going to happen any time soon. We're more likely to have an illiberal democracy with theocratic rulers, very much as in Iran. And any Iraqi [leader] who has much legitimacy with the population cannot afford to be pro-Western or pro-United States. Therefore, once U.S. forces leave, it is almost inevitable that an anti-Western, anti-U.S. regime will arise. I don't see that as an outcome that makes sense for the United States. In fact, it struck me when we invaded last year that if we did it without European and East Asian support, we were risking losing our alliance in Europe in exchange for Iraq, and that is a very undesirable exchange."

I think I know what the neo-conservative rebuttal will be: "General Odom is an un-patriotic, appeaser, anti-Semitic, Clintonite, supporter of John Kerry, and a terrorist looking to profit on the sale of his upcoming book (nevermind the fact he hasn't written one)"

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