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Potsdam Lite
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The establishment of a military leadership of Japan under General MacArthur was established by the Potsdam Declaration.

It seems to me that in order to placate Arab and other international sensitivities, we're basically going to try to implement a Potsdam Lite, a half-assed attempt at establishing a strong short-term presence, gradually doling out authority to a responsible, stable, democratic government as it emerges. This could very well be a recipe for disaster.

Some Shiite leaders are calling for the U.S. to withdraw right now. Which is effing crazy. The place would descend into anarchy and in-fighting beyond anything we've seen so far.

No, we've got to establish a very strong, guiding force in Iraq, and build the framework to get them on their feet, even if it pisses off the Arab world, or even those in Iraq. We shouldn't just throw the country to the dogs wanting to fight over the scraps of power, and we shouldn't hedge our bets by trying to be overly polite. Those are both recipes for failure.

The Bush Administration doesn't want to put a timeline on reconstruction, but I've heard some estimates ranging from three weeks to 3-6 months. Are they kidding? I'm one American who signed up for the long haul when the talk of war began, realizing that democratizing Iraq was going to be a long, expensive ordeal. And I'm ready for that. Anyone else who supported the war effort should have as well. It's wholly unrealistic to expect to slap together anything resembling a functioning government and economy in 3-6 months.

We should follow the Potsdam Declaration, in its intent and to a certain extent, in its firm tone. Here are some sample sections. Imagine substituting "Iraq" for "Japan", and see how they read.

(4) The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisors whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

Well, Saddam didn't bring Iraq to the brink of annihilation, but Saddam put the country severely at risk through his rule.

(5) Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

Though I get the feeling that we're going to be doing some brooking. We shouldn't. We should take a hard line, but I'm afraid we won't.

(6) There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and mislead the people of Japan into embarking on a world conquest. We insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

This was 1945, and here we are still driving irresponsible militarism from the world.

(7) Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan's war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

It sucks, sure. But there it is. We're going to need to occupy the place until we can help it get its shit together. Lots of people won't like it. Tough. It needs to be done.

(9) The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

(10) We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion and of thought as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

This is the most important section, in my opinion. I've wondered about the wisdom of putting former Iraqi policemen back on the streets to try to maintain order. They're the face of the former regime. What needs to be done is an entire turnover in the Iraqi police, intelligence, and military structure. And many of the former officials need to be prosecuted for war crimes, most desirably by newly-formed Iraqi courts.

And that last bit, about establishing freedom of religion, speech, and fundamental human rights. Well, that's pretty damned important. We don't need to just throw the country back to the Muslim clerics. That way lies madness.

(12) The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as those objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

Again, we need to stay until the job is done. And it seems impossible to me that that's going to be a matter of months. Realistically, it should take years.

(13) We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.

Well, we shouldn't threaten to destroy Iraq, but we shouldn't be prancing around the edges of it either. We need to make it damned clear that we've come in to clean up the mess, and we're going to help them build a new Iraq from the ground up. We're not going to pussyfoot with the U.N. or France or Germany. They had their chance to do the right thing and they dropped the ball.

Some of the toughest days are ahead. The inclination is to let resolve waver now that military action is drawing to a close.

That would be a horrible mistake.

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