Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Perspective of Three Years

There is some opinion about the Iraq War out there that is not overcome with second-guessing about the number of troops* that should have been sent in.

ReasonOnline, a publication of the libertarian Cato Institute, offers three contrasting views of Iraq from three informed figures who are from the Middle East--all with ties to Cato, by the way--on the third anniversary of the President's widely (and deliberately?) misunderstood declaration of "mission accomplished. The contrasts are interesting, but the relative absence of second guessing is refreshing.

We particularly recommend the first entry, by one Michael Young, a Lebanese. Here's a quotation, which reinforces our refrain that to win the war, the only thing that the United States needs that it doesn't currently have is the will to endure:

What's next for Iraq? I feel no confidence making predictions from Beirut. Iraqi society has shown more resilience than it has been given credit for, and it is keen to avoid the wasteland of full-scale civil war. Inter-sectarian killings will continue, which may make it seem like civil war has already started. But war is more than killing; it requires a vast leviathan that can sustain the carnage, fund it, and mobilize society while keeping the unhappy in line. Such machinery is not fully in place in Iraq, which is, provisionally, good news. As for the U.S., the question is no longer whether it must leave Iraq, but whether the administration has the will to stay and defend its gains there. As talk of civil war escalates, would Americans agree to send more troops to avert disaster? No. Psychologically, no matter how many soldiers remain in Iraq, many in the U.S. have already headed for the exits.

This doesn't bode well for open societies in the Middle East.

*It has become self-evidently true to the MSM that more American soldiers who don't speak Arabic and who know nothing of Islam or Middle Eastern culture would have been able to pacify the country after the invasion. The only problem with that notion is the "self-evidently true" part.


fiona said...

If the insurgency is as strong as it was 2 years ago, troop levels are roughly the same, and military strategy has changed very little? How can we expect a change in results?

The definition of futility: doing the same thing but expecting different results.

What exactly dear, humble SWNID is the administration or the military specifically doing to win the war? How will 6 months from now look any different from now?

RIV said...

Actually, no. That is not the definition of futility. I just looked it up on dictionary.com and you're not even close.
You are looking upon each day as it's own "trial period."
'Maybe the troops can come home today'
And so, each passing day to you is a defeat. Thus your assumption that the administration is "doing the same thing" over and over. What the Prez, SWNID, and many clear-thinking people are advocating is perseverance and patience. To them, each day builds upon the last. For these people, progress is measured monthly, yearly, even generationally.

fiona said...


I'm glad you are nimble on the internet. If you had not found dictionary.com, I would continue in my ignorance.

In your spare time, however, you should check out Pavlov.

When did I say anything about "each day." We have had two years of f.......; excuse me, I forget that word and its meaning. We've had two years of a trial period. What has been accomplished in that trial period?

So we have purple finger tips and an Islamofascist (that's SWNID's terminology) constitution. What else?

You didn't answer my question: How can we expect a change in results? What are we doing different? What are we doing better? How are we winning?

It is complete nonsense to say that we are going to outlast our enemy. These people are motivated by 72 virgins and a legacy (martyrdom). They are happy to be killed. How can we outlast them? Did we outlast the North Vietnamese and VC? Did the Soviets outlast the muhajadeen? We have to beat them. We have to kill them all. Or the Iraqis have to. Or better yet, the Iraqi people have to say enough is enough and turn them all in (in America, it's called "neighborhood watch.")

Again, what strategy will win? "Stay the course, perseverance, patience." I'm patient with what is working, even if it is working slowly. I'm not sure we have success.

How is it that oil production is still below pre-war levels? How is it that water and electricity are below pre-war levels?

How is it that dozens of IEDs explode daily after 3 years of war? Do you know how many people are required to set up a single IED? Do you know how many normal, neighborhood Iraqis are not turning in the terrorists as they watch the terrorists dig a trench in the middle of the road to put a giant bomb in?

I can be patient with progress. I'm not naive. The Marshall plan was slow. Some things take time. Show me the progress, and I'll be patient. Don't say "be patient" and expect me to be satisfied.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Staying the course is not the same as doing the same thing.

Who says that belief in glorious martyrdom is more socially powerful than belief in liberty? The history of the 20th century is a story of the defeat of the "undefeatable" totalitarians.

Rico, if you read the linked pieces, you'll find one that agrees with you that the Middle East will never change. But you'll find another who disagrees. And he lives there. He sees the American action, flawed as it is, as a signal moment for political change in that region.

We think that history points to the power of persistence and the power of liberty.

fiona said...


Check out Maslow.

I think food, water, elemental security, etc. come a little before the power of liberty.

RIV said...

Rico said:
I think food, water, elemental security, etc. come a little before the power of liberty.

Again, this is such a short-sighted view. If Maslow's hieracrhy is correct, then why have so many abandoned physical, well-being, emotional, and community needs for their own liberty, yes even the liberty of other's? Think Revolutionary war, WWI, WWII, both Gulf wars.
The definition of a coward: A person who chooses food, water, and safety over liberty.

fiona said...

Rest in Villainy (RIV):

By your definition Iraq must be full of cowards.

They submitted to Saddam Hussein for a generation (giving up food, water, and security).

If they would give up those needs under tyranny, why would they sacrifice anything for "liberty" under terrorist tyranny?

While it may be true that all yearn for liberty, or have the capacity. It doesn't seem to follow that all cultures or societies are willing to pay the price. The Iraqis have demostrated they are not willing to pay the price.

You use American examples to justify what you expect Iraqis to do. American culture and Iraqi culture are not the same. If they were, Iraqis would have overthrown the royal throne a long, long time ago (without American help).

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

You're so right, Rico. The Iraqis should have overthrown Saddam themselves, just like the Americans overthrew George III with no help from the French.

Simon Bolivar should have stayed home instead of running all over South America chasing out the Spanish.

The Hungarians and the Czechs were just too wimpy when they couldn't toss out the Soviets in 1956 and 1968 by themselves.

And those miserable Belgians and Dutch. I guess with their culture, they just love being overrun by Germany every so often.

Do we need to replay the events of 1991 to remember that Bush the First allowed Saddam to crush the Shiite and Kurdish rebellions by not giving the help that he had ostensibly promised through clandestine channels?

If American strength exists for anything, it is to liberate, not to insulate. I pity the cynicism that sees the opposite, and it's really something for me to pity cynicism.