|Lt. Col. Bill Cowan|
The decision to hand governing power over to the Iraqis next year is a combination of good news and bad. On the good side, it demonstrates to Iraqis, and indeed to the world, that the Coalition’s intent is not to occupy their country as some detractors have claimed. Instead, it’s a statement that, as promised, we came to roust a dictator and replace him with democracy. Equally good is the fact that facing the prospect of power being turned over to the Iraqis themselves, the French, Germans, Russians and others who have been tepid to this point, are more likely to get involved in Iraq sooner rather than later. If democracy can prevail and the country begins a meaningful building process, they’ll want to be at the table when power transitions, and are likely to act as though they’ve been staunch supporters of the oust-Saddam movement since it began.
|"The opposition can sense that the Americans are anxious to leave, and they are already shifting attacks towards their own."|
The decision to establish a date for the transition of power forces the Iraqis to move more quickly in formulating what they want their new government to look like. To be sure, there will be significant bickering, posturing, and partnering, but in the final analysis, establishing dates moves the process in the right direction. Making the Iraqis establish goals and objectives around specific dates is the hallmark of good business.
Against the backdrop of the good, however, comes the bad. The opposition can sense that the Americans are anxious to leave, and they are already shifting attacks towards their own – towards Iraqis who are working with or supporting the Coalition. These are the same Iraqis who will be the backbone of the new government, all the way from policemen on the beat, many of whom have already been killed, to members of the Governing Council, one of whom has already been assassinated. The opposition surely realizes that it lessens its own vulnerabilities by shifting away from direct attacks on Coalition forces and moving the violence towards fellow Iraqis.
The bottom line in all of this, as stated on numerous occassions by the White House and the Pentagon, is that the security situation will determine how quickly American troops will be able to start pulling out. It will also determine the stability of any new democratic government that with or without an American presence may find itself embroiled in a guerrilla insurgency against former Saddam loyalists intent on regaining power through terror tactics.
All of this speaks to moving boldly on training, equipping, and employing Iraqis in many of the roles our own forces are now engaged in. The Coalition Provisional Authority waited far too long to begin the process. Now it’s catch-up time.
A retired Marine Corps officer, Bill Cowan spent three-and-a-half years on combat assignments in Vietnam. In the 1980s, he was specially selected to serve as one of the first members and as the only Marine in the Pentagon's most classified counterterrorist unit, the Intelligence Support Activity (ISA), a unit that to this date remains under the tightest security. While there, Cowan served as a senior military operations officer and field operative on covert missions to the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. He is a co-founder of the WVC3 Group, a company providing homeland security services, support and technologies to government and commercial clients.