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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

[POLITICS] Responsible Democrats like Murtha are now calling for a phased pullout from Iraq before the Army falls apart as an institution and the Guard and Reserve are destroyed. Some irresponsible Republicans are still insisting we can win the war with the troops we've got.

Neither is a good option. Obviously we're not winning the war. On the other hand what happens after we pull out? Shi'ite dominated theocracy? Corrupt and fragmented pseudo-democracy? Entire country fragments and becomes a failed state, just like Afghanistan before the Taliban took over?

All of these sound like ideal places for Al Qaeda to set up. Cheney was lying when he implied that Saddam was pals with Al Qaeda -- the secular dictator hated the anarcho-jihadists -- but does anyone believe the Iraqis will have the national will to root out terrorists? Why would they, when lots of Jordanians apparently think blowing up a hotel in Amman and killing a lot of Jordanians is a fine thing so long as it spits in America's face?

(Yes, there were demonstrations, but reporters had no trouble finding people who approved of the bombings. And even if Iraqis can be convinced to stop killing other Iraqis, that's a long way from convincing Iraqis to take action to stop their fellow Arabs from training in Iraq for 9/11-style missions in the West.)

Why is no one asking what it would take to actually win the war? Because it would be political suicide, that's why. It would involve drafting at least 250,000 young men, training them in Arabic, and sending them to pursue a "clear and hold" strategy in the Sunni heartland. Many of them would get killed. None of them would be happy to go. Rich kids would pull strings to get deferments, as Cheney did, or find their way into units guaranteed not to serve overseas, as Bush did.

On the other hand, we might have a shot at establishing a secular Iraqi state with enough internal coherence to keep the terrorists from setting up shop.

The alternative is what we've got in western Pakistan -- chaos in which no one can agree on anything except hating Americans -- except in downtown Baghdad, with easy access to the Gulf States and tech-savvy, English-speaking, Western-educated jihadis.

If we were actually willing to put our national heart into it, could we win the war?

Tags: ; ;


I agree with the general tone of your post, which I take to be "the situation in Iraq has been misconceived and mishandled to the point where any solution has terrible consequences." But I do take exception to one of your points, and therein lies a little ray of hope.

You state that "lots of Jordanians apparently think blowing up a hotel in Amman and killing a lot of Jordanians is a fine thing." But in fact, there have been massive demonstrations in Jordan against the hotel bombings. Zarqawi's own Jordanian family has publicly disowned him. Is it too much to expect that violent excess against innocent civilian populations will reap its own reward, in the shape of public revulsion and disavowal of terrorist tactics? Many Iraqis despise the American occupation, but they also despise the bombers, kidnappers, and assassins who are making their everyday lives hell. Get rid of the Americans, and perhaps the Iraqi civilians will be able to focus their wrath on the enemies within.

By Blogger Marc in MD, at 9:05 AM  

I don't think you understand what "not winning the war" means. Not winning the war is what happened to Saddam's army, as well as the tens of thousands of anti-ally Arab fighters (aka "insurgents") in Iraq.

The fact that our victory isn't *flawless* is hardly a reason to say that it's a loss. We lost FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND of our soldiers in WWII. Was that a loss?


We've lost 1/200th of that amount in Iraq. Saddam is out of power and on trial. His murderous, rapist sons are dead. The Kurds are free. The people participated in a free election. There is a constitution. The fact that a dwindling group of desperate criminals attack civilians does not mean we've lost the war any more than the fact that a couple thousand murders a year in New York City means the town is in chaos.

There are a ton of logical, cogent criticisms to be made about the way this war has been carried out. Hyperbole doesn't strengthen your argument.

By Blogger Craig Mazin, at 6:50 PM  

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