Tuesday, November 06, 2007

For the love of Pete...

So Instapundit steered me to this piece in The New Republic. I can't figure out how to comment on it directly, which it deserves - and which its commenters deserve even more so - so I'm a-blogging instead. (And America Alone languishes on the bedside table, because blogging on it takes more thought and time.)

Saith author Michael Crowley,
What do the Democrats do if--yes: if, if, if--the surge appears to have succeeded? (Or at least seems, to voters, to have succeeded: I realize the tribal shift in Anbar, for instance, wasn't imposed by US troops--although my correspondent friend said surge forces did enable us to exploit Sunni tribal cooperation and root out al Qaeda.) Indeed, if Iraq somehow stabilizes and even incrementally improves, doesn't that affect the presidential campaign in important and unpredictable ways? Obviously it's almost impossible to concieve of an outcome in Iraq that any reasonable person could call "victory." Democrats will resonably argue that the adventure wasn't worth the cost in lives and dollars. But the notion that Bush's patience really did save Iraq from unmitigated humanitarian and strategic catastrophe might be a powerful one. Expectations have been lowered to such an extent over the past several months that any glimmer of hope is a godsend for Republicans.

First point: who cares whether "the surge" was the proximate cause of success, if we and the Iraqis do achieve lasting success? Overlapping a troop rotation or two ("the surge") was and is the necessary factor for improving security at a critical time; most of the heavy lifting is up to the Iraqis now, with spotting and assists from us and our allies. As a guy named Reagan once tried to remind us, credit is a whole lot less important than results.

That being said, the "important and unpredictable ways" in which the 2008 elections would be affected by lasting stability in Iraq are indeed important, but does the author really believe they're unpredictable? The Democrats have done an absolutely fantastic job of ensuring that any success in Iraq, or shall we say "any glimmer of hope," will not be laid at their feet.

All the rest that needs to be said about this post is basically this: About time you people started to consider the consequences of your policy stance, not to mention your tactics.

On to the comments. Here's my favorite:

[Even if lots of good things happen, with expletive,] what have you got to show for our efforts? An Iranian Shiite outpost in Mesopotamia, a disempowered and p[...]ed-off Sunni minority with allies in Saudi Arabia and across the Islamic world, and the legacy of 6 years of criminality, sectarian cleansing and armed conflict - and a disreputable government that does not command the loyalty of its security forces and cannot rule without the US military to support it.

Hmm. Let's review what Iraq had before: a no-fly zone expending American resources to absolutely no good effect, international sanctions which, we were told, killed some hundred thousand innocent Iraqi children a year, an oil-for-food program that undermined our alliances with some of our formerly staunchest allies, an empowered and p'ed off Sunni minority (with the same allies the commenter named, but less need of them because they already had all the guns), the legacy of 20+ years of criminality, sectarian cleansing and armed conflict, and an utterly disreputable and dangerous dictatorial government that had already invaded two of its neighbors, that commanded the loyalty of its security forces by holding their families hostage, and that held power by dint of rape and torture rooms and an established willingness to use at least chemical and possibly biological weapons against its own people.

Gosh. Now Iraq has trouble, right here in River City - but also the most liberal constitution in the Middle East, a significant and growing cadre of people of good will of all ethnic stripes who see their own and their country's interest in defending that constitution, and the help of the undeniably mighty American military to get to their feet and keep on cranking out those clean elections. None of which they had under Saddam Hussein.

That same dour commenter goes on, "The only thing worth celebrating is the day when no more Americans will be fighting and dying in that hell-hole -- the difference is I would like to bring that celebration home tomorrow, whereas you are willing to wait till 2009." And again I say, Gosh. That's the only thing worth celebrating? And is s/he laboring under the delusion that the American military would in fact "celebrate" it if they left tomorrow? Perhaps s/he doesn't visit milblogs very often... This commenter believes that we're in Iraq because Bush wants to "save face"; I beg his or her pardon, but does s/he really believe that Bush, a lame duck president whose approval ratings hit rock bottom long ago and have only rebounded into the 30s, has "face" to save? If Bush were interested in saving face, he could've done so by doing exactly what the Democrats want to do: by declaring victory at any arbitrary point and pulling out all American troops, then blaming Iraq (and/or Iran) for not being able to hold the gains we'd given them.

Instead, this man's legacy is going to have to wait. I'm an optimist; I believe that Iraq has a good chance. I also believe that Bush's legacy will be a heck of a lot more history-book-apt than Clinton's (at least, I cringe at the thought of my children's learning about the more noteworthy aspects of Clinton's presidency), and certainly more positive than that bumbling goofball Carter's. (Bravo to you, Carter, for swinging a hammer for the downtrodden - but ferme la bouche about Israel, sir; you only come across as an antisemite.)


Cobra said...

Jaime writes:

>>>"The Democrats have done an absolutely fantastic job of ensuring that any success in Iraq, or shall we say "any glimmer of hope," will not be laid at their feet."

Well, far be it from me to be one of those gloomy-gus liberals. I fully acknowlege some of the "successes" of the Iraq Campaign.

1. We deposed a dictator, albeit, one who we once considered an ally to the point of supplying him with weapons of mass destruction.

2. We've created profits for Oil Companies the world has NEVER SEEN. Of course, most people don't know that the #1 customer of the oil and gas is the Pentagon, and there's nothing quite like having two simultaneous, seemingly incessant wars in the Middle East (with plans for a THIRD) to get those quarterly profit numbers singing!

Of course, needless to say, that another facet of the success for the oil companies is that Iraq Oil Fields are now no longer nationalized, and the good people of Exxon Mobil, BP and other multinationals will have unfettered access to the 2nd largest Oil Reserves in the world for nearly 30 years.

3. We've cleared the way for a rise in Shia power from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus. We've successfully turned a secular Arab country (Iraq) into a fractured, three headed theocracy called the "Islamic Republic of Iraq". We've successfully turned a society where women had rights into...well--

>>>"The irony is not lost either amongst women's groups in Baghdad or activists in the United States: Iraqi women who enjoyed basic human rights under one of the world's most repressive regimes headed by former President Saddam Hussein are now on the verge of losing their hard-won freedoms under a U.S.-blessed administration in the insurgent-ravaged country.

”We express our deepest concern and worry about the drafts lately released by the (Iraqi) Constitutional Committee, specifically relating to the chapter on duties and rights, in which the (Islamic) sharia law was clearly stated as the main source of legislation in the new Iraqi constitution,” the Iraqi Women's Movement said in an appeal to the United Nations."


4. We've successfully brought over 7,000 Iraqi refugees to America! Of course, there are over 4 MILLION Iraqi refugees (2 Million have fled the country, 2 Million displaced internally), but hey, it's a start, right?

5. We've successfully sanitized the mainstream media so that nobody really sees the thousands of dead American servicemen flying into Dover Air Force base, and the TENS of thousands of severely wounded veterans and their treatment...or what happens to their families and lives afterwards. It goes without saying that the sanitation is even MORE successful in hiding the TEN-FOLD+ Iraqi civilian casualties and hardships.

6. We've successfully made war profiteering fun again, whether it be using Slave Labor to build the $592 Million dollar US embassy in Baghdad, or the deployment of a private army with NO rules of engagement (Blackwater) all paid for with our tax dollars at best, foreign loans at worst.

You see Jaime? I can see the Bush Legacy clear as bell on this one. Some people are indeed getting very rich because of this war, and I acknowlege their successes.


Jamie said...

Hey, Cobra - nice to hear your voice again! I'm writing in the middle of the night and I'm not willing to go strictly point-by-point when I'm this tired, but:

1. That's the difference between realpolitik and the Bush doctrine, and ultimately there's space even between the philosophical idealism of the Bush doctrine and actual ground truth. We deposed a dictator, and in particular a dictator who was not only ruthless against his own people but who continued to cause us to spend money and mobilization keeping him "contained" (while our "natural allies" worked hard to keep windows and bolt-holes open for him).

2. "We" didn't create oil company profits, Cobra; supply and demand, as always, created them. A global market is famously resistant to manipulation, and Iraq's contribution to world oil is not enough to make the difference you're talking about. Demand in China and India are, though. (When you say "the" oil and gas with relation to the Pentagon, are you talking about "the" O&G in Iraq? If so, wasn't Iraq's oil supposed to help finance this Illegal War For Oil? Do the Iraqis owe us nothing? And let me wonder aloud here whether the Pentagon actually pays for the oil they use. Hmm. OK, done wondering: they do. They can possibly negotiate a "volume discount," but that's it.)

And on the subject of Iraq's no-longer-nationalized fields, I cannot imagine you're saying that Hussein's "nationalized" fields actually benefited Iraqis generally. (Why, oh why, does everybody in your camp think that we march into the Middle East and demand free oil at gunpoint?)

3. I do not support efforts to reintroduce shari'a anywhere. If Iraq were to go this way, it'd be a mistake and we'd be on the hook to continue to push hard for them to un-make it. But again, I cannot believe you could think that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a great place to be a woman, particularly a Shia woman.

4. A point of the Bush doctrine is not to "bring refugees to America." It's to help formerly totalitarian regimes more closely resemble America (in governance and civil liberties, not in culture unless a culture change is necessary) so their oppressed people don't want or need to come here just to attain basic rights and opportunities.

5. Thousands of dead Americans... Don't even go there, Cobra - thirty-seven thousand Americans died during the Battle of Normandy. Every death is a tragedy, but it does not follow that death should (or can) be avoided because it makes people sad. Same goes for disability and the families of veterans. As for civilian casualties, please lay those at the feet of those who committed them.

6. Oh, war profiteering. A problem in every war, of course. But federal oversight today makes it much less of a problem than it's ever been (you have, I feel sure, no idea what contractors have to do to qualify to work on government jobs, since you're always implying if not actually coming right out and stating that all you have to do is eat barbecue with W), so pbthbthbth. (Best I can manage at 5:47 a.m. when I've been up since 2:30.)

Wow, look, I went point-for-point after all. I didn't know I'd have the stamina. Back to bed... for forty-five minutes.