Friday, November 24, 2006

The end of the "Pottery Barn rule?"

Back in the summer of 2002, when -- as we now know -- Shrub and his neocon militia were already deep into planning their invasion of Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell advised Shrub that he should be mindful of the so-called "Pottery Barn rule." As quoted from Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack:

"You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people," he told the president. "You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You'll own it all." Privately, Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it."

Powell might well have been recalling the words of Shrub's father, President Bush, who wrote in 1998 about his decision to limit the Gulf War military mission to liberating Kuwait:

While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. ... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome. [Time Magazine, 2 Mar 98]

More than eight years later, this has the ring of prophesy, as we read endless headlines about tribal and sectarian strife costing the lives of over a hundred Iraqi civilians a day,
month after month, including a couple of hundred yesterday, our Thanksgiving Day here in America.

So Shrub's ignorance
has triumphed over his father's thoughtful "reality-based" foreign policy, and we have inherited a country full of broken pottery. What a Thanksgiving turkey he has turned out to be!

And the sad part for everyone, especially our troops in the field and the Iraqi populace trying to live another day without being
kidnapped and shot, is that Shrub hasn't the slightest idea how to fix what he has broken.

Original photo caption: Vehicles burn following a car bomb in the centre of Baghdad. Photograph: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty.

1 comment:

Old Chip said...

A very nice essay. We have quoted you on our website as well.