Let's start with the Bush hawks. The first rule of any Iraq invasion is the pottery store rule: You break it, you own it. We break Iraq, we own Iraq — and we own the primary responsibility for rebuilding a country of 23 million people that has more in common with Yugoslavia than with any other Arab nation. I am among those who believe this is a job worth doing, both for what it could do to liberate Iraqis from a terrible tyranny and to stimulate reform elsewhere in the Arab world. But it is worth doing only if we can do it right. And the only way we can do it right is if we can see it through, which will take years. And the only way we can see it through is if we have the maximum allies and U.N. legitimacy.Why is this necessarily so? Why not take a large job and split it up according to an efficient and effective division of labor, among volunteers who have different skills and assets? Invading a country, stabilizing it and rebuilding it are very different tasks. The US Marines and Air Force may be best at the first, but not at the second or third. In fact, the best people to rebuild Iraq are more likely to be non-American than American. Iraqis themselves probably distrust the US more than, for example, Canada or Britain. It's a good cop, bad cop routine.
I'm a big fan of full follow-through, if there must be a war in Iraq. However, if this is indeed an international effort, then other countries besides the US must be involved in the follow-through. To be fair, Friedman's article is all about gathering a broad coalition to rebuild Iraq. I only question the assumption that rebuilding must be "owned" by US.