Thursday, November 17, 2005

With Us or With the Wingers

As news junkies already know, a hawkish Democratic senator has called for a more or less immediate pullout from Iraq. There is much beard-pulling about this in the liberal commentariat, while on the right there's, well, take a look.

And I thought that we would talk a little bit about what's at stake, because I think that the attack on 9/11 is something that Americans have not forgotten, and I think they understand that the aggressive operations of America's military have helped to keep the insurgents in the war against terror off balance.

That's why Americans today are able to go to parks, go to schools, go to the grocery store, live life without fear of having a second 9/11 attacks, and that's why four years have expired without a second attack on our homeland: because we've aggressively projected America's fighting forces in the theaters in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they are doing a superb job.

I post this not so that we bearded liberal folk can laugh at the silliness of the Republicans. Yes, the very first "substantive point" (loose terminology) made in this press conference is "Nine Eleven!! Nine Eleven!! Terra!!" and that's darkly humorous in its hamhanded wingnuttitude.

But the real point of this post is directed to anyone who reads this blog who is not currently strongly in favor of an immediate pullout from Iraq. As longtime readers know, I have argued forcefully for just such a pullout for over a year, and continue to advocate it. Since I have begun advocating an immediate pullout, the situation in Iraq has, by all serious accounts, become much worse.

I renew that call today and would like any liberal or moderate readers who favor continuing the American military presence in Iraq to read the above-linked PC carefully and decide whether you agree with its basic thrust.

If you don't, please realize that what you have just read represents the public case for your position. If you feel uneasy about that, you need to do some serious thinking and decide whether or not you really favor what it is you think you favor.

Just a thought.


The Greatness said...

That the Administration case for the continued presence in Iraq rests on their straw-man link to the War on Terror does not preclude others from having their own reasons for thinking it a good idea. It doesn't even preclude others in the transcript you quoted from having them. Scanning it I see, of course, the predictable militaristic arguments: "never surrender", "don't let them have died in vain", etc. But there's also a running thread among the speakers on nation-building and democracy that's almost Clintonesque. I understand that you find such a "pro-freedom" stance perverse given the reality on the ground, but it is a significant public view that is separable from the first one. And it's one that I lean toward, since I would expect things to get worse if we leave. If you want to convince people like me that we should leave now, it would be helpful to know why you think the new Iraqi governmental system would be more stable and just if we left now rather than later.

Anonymous said...

I somewhat second the greatness. In my opinion, the only thing worse than going into a country and trashing the lives of everyone there, is to kick of a civil war and put them in a situation we've observed as worse, and then leave.

Republicans say that the Iraqis aren't ready to take care of themselves, because they don't want the US to leave. Democrats say the Iraqis are ready to take a larger role, because they do want the US to leave. Are the Iraqis actually ready to prevent broad civil war and chaos? If they're not, it is ethical to let them kill themselves without us, after having caused that situation?

The Iraqi situation after we would leave is the important factor to consider when mulling over a withdrawal, but I just can't come to a conclusion about withdrawal because I don't feel there's good information about the likely consequences.

If anyone feels that the idea Iraq would plunge into total chaos after American withdrawal is just bunk or political fearmongering, (and that we should simply pull out and let them deal with the situation) please provide some information why that might be.

RBP said...

I struggle with the withdrawal scenerio for the same reasons stated above. What IS next for Iraq if we leave? It is my feeling that the extremist in Iran and Saudi Arabia would benefit most from the inherit instability created by such a withdrawal. Of course that begs the question, what kind of stability does our continued presence provide now? And is one worse than the other?
Yes I want the troops home now. I'm not at all sure what that means for the future of the region. Are we creating another Afghanistan or Somalia? Perhaps we should leave now so that we may come back later, with a real coalition, with all of NATO and the UN. But what happens in the interim?

Adam P. Short said...

It is completely irresponsible to destroy a country and then leave. Absolutely no question.

Here's the question no one who supported the war seems to be willing or able to answer.

The consequences of a U.S. pullout from Iraq in November 2003 may well have been dire. In November 2005, the consequences would undoubtedly be much more dire.

What, specifically, do we expect to happen that will reverse this trend? When, specifically, will the trend reverse, and how many people will have to die before those consequences sink back down to around the level they were two years and over a thousand US troops ago?

Put another way, those very few of us who were calling for a US pullout from Iraq were assured that by this point, Iraq would be closer to stability. We know today the opposite is true.

Now, many more people have joined the call. Again we are told that Iraq, at some point in the future, will be more stable than it is today.

What caused those who argued against a pullout in 2003 to get it wrong, and what have they changed about their reasoning that allows them to get it right now?

heatkernel said...

The question of what "should be best" or "would be best" to do in Iraq operates at (at least) two different levels. One sense is that on which "we" are asking it, the sense of which is--what would be best for the Iraqis and people in surrounding region, who we have jeapardized by our invasion and occupation. With history as a guide, it is not difficult to see that a phased, but complete, withdrawal, concurrent with serious training of a native Iraqi army, is the course most likely to produce an acceptable outcome. Slight tweaking aside, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the sensible way to avoid either the financial and military ruin that continued occupation would bring to us, or the Somalia-type chaos that a sudden withdrawal would occasion.

The other sense to the question is that in which our leaders (or the subset of them, that directly control Iraq policy) ask it--namely, what course will best advance the interests for which we (the leaders) originally invaded Iraq. What these interest are/were, I don't pretend to know for sure, but it's safe to say they are not identical with the security of the Iraqi people and others in that region, nor were they "WMD". Probably they were some amalgamation of different things, but whatever the reasons were, the relevant leaders still seem convinced that those interests are furthered by continuing to occupy Iraq, rather than withdrawing. At least we can infer that from their behavior.

The second sense of the question the only sense of the question that, ultimately, makes any difference, as long as those leaders stay in power. That is why I think we will stay in Iraq until one of several possible events forces the hand of the leaders to withdraw, these including, in descending order of probability: a) fiscal crisis of the US Federal Gov't, b) breakdown of US military resulting from inability to find recruits, or revolt in the senior ranks just prior to such a breakdown, c) wholesale defeat of the War Party(ies?) at the American bollot box.

Of these, only c), the least likely possibility, can be influenced in any way by arguments in the public forum. It's more likely that an appeal to people's selfishness rather than altruism (as in, discussing what course of action would be best for the Iraqis themselves) will strip away the necessary voters for c) to happen. In any case, good luck!