Civil wars and human rights: somebody else’s problem

Rumsfeld: the US won’t intervene to stop a civil war in Iraq – they’re going to leave it to the Iraqi government. This means allowing a civil war to happen – if it comes to civil war all the Iraqi military and police forces will be torn apart into the militias that are really running them. The Iraqi military can’t stop a civil war, because it is going to be the battleground.
This isn’t in the official PDF of his testimony [here](http://appropriations.senate.gov/hearmarkups/record.cfm?id=252399), so presumably it was in answer to questions.
What that PDF does include is a particularly blatant statement that Rumsfeld doesn’t want to get human rights or democratisation get in the way of what he sees as the US national interest.

It is also important that we not complicate efforts to build useful relationships with nations that can aid in our defense. In the past, there has been a tendency to cut off military-to-military relationships when a particular government did something we did not approve of. This happened some years ago with respect to our relations with both Indonesia and Pakistan — two of the largest and most important Muslim countries in the world, and today, valuable allies in the War on Terror.

Why did they cut off those relationships? In Pakistan, it was because they were developing nuclear weapons technology – technology which was then transferred to Iran and North Korea. In Indonesia, it was because the government was in the process of killing more than 100,000 people in East Timor.
So Rumsfeld’s message is: feel free to build nukes or murder your citizens – the US won’t let it stand in the way of military cooperation.

3 replies on “Civil wars and human rights: somebody else’s problem”

I wonder why you chose to say that the U. S. would not intervene when that isn’t what was said? Rumsfeld said that the Iraqi security forces would take a leading role in putting down a civil war if one should break out, which is at it should be.

thanks for the comment, poor boy. What Rumsfeld said, according to that article, was
“it’s very clear that the Iraqi forces will handle it, but they’ll handle it with our help,”
So, fair enough, he’s not saying the US won’t do anything at all – but wouldn’t you agree he’s moving himself into a position where it is easy to get US soldiers out if it all gets really nasty?
I totally agree with the principle of it being Iraqi security forces who should deal with a civil war. The problem is that they won’t be able to – not just because of the troubles with training, but because in the event of a civil war the Iraqi forces will themselves be breaking up.

I don’t know about what the Iraqi security forces would do, though I’d suspect that you’re correct. I don’t think that’s all bad, though. If the Iraqi soldiers who stand with the federal authorities prevail in putting down a civil war (even against the security forces who defect), then Iraq comes out stronger for it. If the United States kills thousands of more Iraqis by picking sides in a Civil War, then the only loser is America.

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