Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Inherent Problems With War Execution Due to Bush's Narrative

I was thinking last night and it occurred to me that a lot of the problems that we have in Iraq can tie back to a lie by the administration that forced them into poor decisions in Iraq. This isn't to let the government off the hook from their horrible misjudgements, but I think this highlights why preemptive (or unnecessary) war should be avoided.

Here are a few examples:

-WMDs: By claiming that the war was being waged to secure WMD's (it seemed obvious from the start that this was a pretext, I was undecided as to whether it was a valid pretext), the administration devoted its resources to finding those weapons upon invasion. This attention to non-existent weapons took away from the real needs of stabilizing the country. Additionally, protecting the nonexistent weapons from the (likely) nonexistent terrorists living in Iraq - meant that we left the museum and various institutions vulnerable to being ransacked.

-Democracy: Our claim that we were fighting to spread democracy meant that we could not replace Saddam with a strongman who could have kept the country in line. Since we pretended there were higher ideals at play in our conquest, we failed in what should have been our primary post war goal - stabilization.

-Saddam was evil: By defining Saddam as 'evil', rather than a term that is more flexible we were forced to deal with him and his supporters in absolute terms. A lot of experts feel that we really lost control because of all the unemployed Baathists and military veterans who had no disincentive against stirring up trouble because they were not invested in the society.

-Nothing Will Change: A variation of this argument was used to get agreement with (or at least tolerance for) our attack plans from Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We told the Saudis and the Turks that the essential makeup of Iraq would not change postwar. The Saudis feared the situation we find ourselves in (with a meddling Iran running a proxy war against the Saudis through Iraq) and the Turks feared an independent Kurdistan. The lies we told our allies, forced us to avoid the most logical outcome of war in Iraq without a strong ruler, partition. So now we are standing in the middle of a civil war.

-We can Fight on Multiple Fronts: This justified starting a war while we were still engaged in Afghanistan - sad.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Why I Care About Hillary's "Mistake"

When people talk about Hillary refusing to admit she made a mistake regarding the Iraq Authorization for the President to go to war, it often sounds like an argument about semantics. Her stump line is "If I knew what I know now, I wouldn't have supported the resolution.", she goes on to lay the responsibility at Bush's feet and expresses remorse.

This might sound like a sufficient mea culpa. I don't know about others, but I don't want her to apologize as some act of contrition. I opposed invading Iraq because I didn't think there was sufficient cause to buck the entire international community and do it on her own. What's more, we created a dangerous precedent with preemption. When I say I want Hillary to admit a mistake, it is because without admitting a mistake, how am I to know she learned from this?

Her 'apology' makes it clear she wouldn't support another preemptive war by President Bush. But what about the next President. The mistake here wasn't believing the President, the mistake was supporting a war without international support or the kind of evidence needed to justify it. The mistake wasn't that she was misled, the mistake is that she believes in a vision of the US where preemption is justified on very little evidence. The other outcomes are entirely predictable when gambling on a policy of preemption.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

So What Do We Do Now?

As promised, here's my proposal for Iraq. Yes, I know that I don't know shit. That has yet to stop the President, so it's not gonna stop me.

I believe in a plan that is similar to the one proposed by Congressman Murtha last year (I'm not sure how it compares to his current proposals). The gist of his proposal, and the right thing for us to do, is to pull out of the cities in which we are constantly engaged in no win battles. By fighting the insurgents in the streets, we fight at their advantage in an environment that alienates us from the populus.

I envision us pulling out to more secluded bases throughout the country. From these bases we could still conduct our training of troops, if there is a desire to train forces without the distratcions of home. More important, our soldiers would not be sniped out everyday.

The rhetoric about Iraqifying the war has largely receeded with the latest 'surge', yet pulling back to the sidelines and telling the Iraqis to figure it out might force them to get involved. At the least, it would cause the Sunni insurgents and the Shiite agitators to fight each other without us standing in the middle.

By not committing to a full withdrawal, we are able to be mobile and intervene in situations where we believe there are international terrorists (distinct from local terrorists who are only fighting us because we're there). We can also intervene if a massacre or slaughter type situation develops. We also prevent Saudi Arabia and Iran from fully invading and fighting a proxy war.

I don't understand why this option is not more widely considered. The main failing I see is that it is an admission of civil war by Bush, and he still thinks he can with the support of the American public.

Ironic Terrorism

I was struck by a thought while reading this post on Talking Points Memo. It discusses the circular logic of Bush's justification of the War in Iraq.

The way I see it, there are two disturbing explanations for those who choose to still believe in the justness of our cause.

The first group still believes that Saddam was a menace and a danger that had to be neutralized in Iraq. Most probably believe that a link exists between Saddam and Al Qaeda. The only way I can see someone believing this is if they truly believe that Islam and all tied to it are suspect, as it is readily apparent that there were (and still are thanks to the Iraq adventure) more threatening regimes in the world and that the Saddam/bin Laden nexus was manufactured.

The second and more 'rational' explanation of our continued presence in Iraq goes as follows: We thought they were terrorists(despite evidence to the contrary) so we invaded, turning a decent amount of the population into terrorists, however, if we leave now we embolden the terrorists. So we need to fight them where they are, which is what we wanted to do in the first place. We turn a population into terrorists, and then kill them and claim justification because they were terrorists. This is what the mainstream opinion on Iraq really supports. This is what I believed up until a few months ago. Now I think we need to move aggressively towards disengagement (I will post my thoughts on what our redeployments should look like shortly).

I don't know about you, but it makes me feel pretty sick to realize the horrible irony of it all.

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