One week ago, Tony Blair and George Bush stood side by side, reiterating the point that June 30 was the day on which, no matter what, the United States and the Coalition would hand over political power to a new Iraqi government. Many people, including several prominent conservatives, have said that the deadline will arrive too fast. In just the first two weeks of April, at least 90 U.S. troops were killed in action, not to mention the several soldiers and private contractors who remain missing, or as hostages (U.S. News 4/26/04).Several countries are also getting fed up with the number of casualties. Spain, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic all pulled out their troops this past week, citing the escalation in violence as the reason. All this makes us ponder the question, “Will Iraq be ready to take control on July 1st?” The answer is no, but it really doesn’t matter.
The transfer of power on June 30 is a purely symbolic act at this point. There will be no wide-ranging changes on July 1. The insurgency of anti-American forces isn’t going to stop fighting just because, technically, the U.S. doesn’t run Iraq anymore. In fact, it is more likely that they will try and disrupt the transfer as much as possible, putting more pressure on the interim government in their attempt to maintain order.
But what will they use to maintain order? Oh yeah that’s right… those 110,000 U.S. troops aren’t going anywhere anytime soon either. The de facto power will remain in U.S. control as long as the troops are there. The troops also don’t have to abide by Iraqi governmental rule; they are deriving their legal mandate from U.N. Resolution 1511, which provides for Iraqi security until at least 2005 (Time 3/30/04).
The fact of the matter is that the U.S. could hand the power to Iraq tomorrow, and it would have about the effect it will have on June 30. You won’t see a change, except for all the pomp and circumstance in Baghdad, which of course will be the lead story on all the “liberal” media stations. As long as people still want to kill Americans, or anything American in Iraq, there will be U.S. soldiers there. As long as there are U.S soldiers there, the power remains in the United States’ hands.
The planning for this war began on November 21, 2001, according to Bob Woodward’s new book, yet the U.S. never planned for an effective exit strategy. Maybe when President Bush was questioned about his biggest mistake at his live press conference last week, he should have talk about his exit strategy. Or maybe the fact that he flew onto an aircraft carrier and declared, “Mission accomplished” on May 1, 2003?
No matter which was his biggest mistake, he still has to deal with the fact that many Iraqis want the new Iraq to fail. As Shiite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stated two weeks ago, “If that [being an outlaw] means breaking the law of the American tyranny and its filthy constitution [for Iraq], I’m proud of that and that’s why I’m in revolt” (Reuters 4/5/04). There’s still plenty of time left for that biggest mistake to happen.