Thursday, September 30, 2004

Our Efforts In Iraq

I was working on a reply to these questions when lo and behold Beldar went ahead and wrote the post I was going to, only more succinctly and capably than I ever could.

The challenge of Islamist terror isn't going to be resolved over a conference table. Iraq without Hussein is good, even if it means that france lost a market for third-tier aircraft and Germany will have to sell chemicals that really will be used for fertilizer. Uday's Olympic Training Table and Medieval Torture Faire or Saddam's Backhoe Grave Diggers will not be missed.

If I thought the domestic opposition to this war was based on anything more noble than a desire to bring down the Bush administration, or the U.N./france/Germany machinations on anything more than pique and envy, I'd take them a little more seriously.

Barring liberal revolutions in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, we will need a solid base for military operations in the heart of the swamp for years to come. Iraq was the sensible choice when we invaded. Twelve years of failing sanctions that were exploited by U.N. profiteers in partnership with Saddam only hurt the Iraqi people. Twelve years of the U.S. and Britain maintaining No-Fly zones served only to give Hussein victim status for propaganda purposes. A functioning, democratic Iraq will have more positive impact on its neighbors than any number of troops we station there...and will ultimately reduce the cost of victory whether we measure it in lives or treasure.


Matt Ward said...

I can pretty much respect anti-war arguments based on pacifism or realism or tactical considerations or even a genuine "we haven't been nice enough to the Europeans" line. But, like you, I suspect so much of it is just "Get Bush out of the White House and a Democrat, progressive, whatever in." And that's just so shallow.

Here's my question for you, Utah. Do you think we can make Iraq a functioning democracy?

Enjoy the blog. Is it getting cold yet in Utah? Down here in SC, it's actually cool for much of the day.

Matt Ward said...

I can respect anyone who opposes our war in Iraq for pacifist or realist or tactical reasons. But, like you, I suspect a great deal of the opposition is based on just getting George Bush out of the White House. Which seems incredibly shallow to me.

Here's my question for you, Utah: Do you think we can turn Iraq into a functioning democracy? Considering it has no rule of law, independent judiciary, sizeable educated middle class, etc, etc.

Enjoy your blog. Is it getting cold in Utah yet? Down here in SC, it's pleasantly cool for much of the day.

Matt Ward said...

Interesting expirement there.

I thought I lost my first attempt at putting down my thoughts. So you got two versions saying the same things, a few minutes apart.

TmjUtah said...

Matt -

Depends on what you mean by rule of law. I believe that the vast majority of Iraqis are less than thrilled that their country is a battlefield and look forward to the day when we are gone. I'd be pretty bummed to be occupied by a foreign power, too - BUT our problems with attacks and kidnappings and bombings aren't the result of anything approaching a popular majority resistance movement. I don't have the figures to hand, but the insurgency has been mostly limited to Baghdad and the Sunni areas with notable exceptions as long as we have been in the postwar phase...and the presence of foreign fighters has obviously been an aggravating factor.

Rule of law is an interesting phrase. We have rule of law here in America, yet we have multimillion dollar prisons scattered across the country and some of our larger urban areas have police forces equipped closer to military formations than constabularies. Yet we still consider our situation sustainable.

Imagine fighting a World War 2-style conflict (irreconcilable philosophies resolved only by force of arms) where the Axis nations were colocated instead of seperated by continents. Say we pounded one or two axis members into paste but left the last member(s) in control of their borders while implementing Marshall/MacArthur plans on the nations we occupied.

Due to our domestic political divisions, this administration has elected to reconstruct what was occupied Europe and Italy before we move on to taking out Berlin and Tokyo. There are no rules of engagement recognised by the enemy, no rules of land warfare or civilized behaviour. Our lack of unity of resolve is one of the few advantages they can exploit and they have been making earnest efforts to get as much mileage out of our weakness as they can. We erred in not shooting looters out the gate, and maybe we might have gotten better results by corralling the defeated Iraqi army and retraining it for a new role vice letting them fade back into their society. I read Belmont Club for illumination about the macro effort in Iraq - Wretchard has excellent information whenever I go there.

Rule of law only works after you drive the enemy combatants off the field; what is left after that is anti-social individuals and criminals. We aren't there yet, and 'yet' has been a ridiculously brief period when looking for a measure of victory or defeat.

The dread felt by a devoted ABB, Chomsky reading, Amerikkka hating, historically ignorant, conflict=defeat, Dean voter when confronted with the prospect of a second Bush administration pales in comparison to what the mullahs of Iran and Saudi Wahabbist clerics who know what four more years of Bush will mean to them.

They won't be around at the end of them, for a start.

That's where we are right now. The ultimate objective on our part is to end acts of terror against us. That's the short, pure, national interest behind everything we have done so far. I think its a refreshingly valid and ethically sound national policy. We aren't out to make them Baptists. We certainly don't want to occupy or even administer (already done with that, aren't we?) anyone indefinitely. We (broadly speaking - our actions to date have been the result of debate followed by resolutions passed by a majority of our legislators and executed by the administration) have bet that freedom in the form of participatory, democratic governments will provide long-term relief from the cancers of despotism, dictatorship,tribalism that have defined that part of the world forever. We have also reserved the right to attack perpetrators and their supporters when and where we find them. Both strategies have their place.

Nothing is perfect; mistakes have been made and great challenges remain. The same people that damn us for our efforts in Iraq cannot explain to me why Kosovo was a success. They will not articulate believable alternatives to the current policy; their domestic political capital has been invested convincing their constituency that diplomacy, the U.N., and non-confrontation have something to do with ending this threat. And the national leadership of this faction, the Democrats interested in winning elections, have deemphasized the threat of Islamist terror to just another issue to exploit for their own purposes. They aim no higher than their own personal fortunes, national costs be damned.

We have cooled down a bit. A little white on the mountains, a little frost in the valleys. I hope we get a boatload of snow this year. Seven drought years is quite enough, thank you.

TmjUtah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TmjUtah said...

Hmmmm....have to watch the overtravel setting on my publishing trigger.

Dave Schuler said...

Barring liberal revolutions in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, we will need a solid base for military operations in the heart of the swamp for years to come. Iraq was the sensible choice when we invaded.IMO that was, is, and has been the sole genuine reason for the invasion of Iraq. That Kerry has explicitly ruled this out and Bush has been silent on it troubles me.

I'm glad to see you've finally taken the plunge, TmjUtah. You've got a lot to say and when you're putting as much into the comments sections of other people's blogs as you have been you may as well have your own.

Welcome to the blogosphere. I've put you in my favorites list and I'll be a regular visitor. Keep up the good work. And don't be a stranger. The Glittering Eye is opened day and night.