Monday, November 28, 2005

Americans Realize They Were Duped And Are Angry - Why Can't Democratic Politicians Admit The Same And Get Angry Too?

I recently sent this to the Bull Moose , which is loosely affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council, in an effort to get them to rethink their Iraq strategy - with no chance of success, of course.

"You ask whether the American people will be inclined towards a party that is re-litigating the causes for the Iraq War. It seems they are already doing so , individually, in the privacy of their own minds. That is why you see the poll numbers continue to drop. Average Americans are coming to the conclusion that they were wrong. And they are doing so without any real leadership moving them in that direction.

I would urge you to rethink the following from you piece -

'In the post-9/11 environment any American Administration would have erred on the side of vigilance concerning Sadaam's threat. That may not have been wise, but it wasn't a case of lying and massive deceit.'

You must distinguish between the post 9/11 world and the post afghan War. After deposing the Taliban and putting al Qaeda on the run we were safer than we had been at least before the Khobar Towers and Cole bombings. We would have been even more so if we had pressed our advantage rather than diverting resources in preparation for the Iraq invasion. While many in the Clinton Administration were concerned about the Saddam threat, few if any advocated invasion. And the information generated by the Blix and Al Baradei inspections after Bush came in made clear to any impartial student of the subject that he had no serious weapons capacity, conventional or otherwise. Moreover he was not a threat to us. The only people who had anything to fear were his neighbors, and they were not very exercised.

During the whole run up to war I could not help but reflect on a similar run up more than a century earlier, one that you would be familiar with. We declared war against Spain for many reasons, but few of them were articulated publicly. Then, as now, it was difficult to have a rational discussion because neither the government or the press were interested. They wanted war.

The American people are increasingly opposed to this war because they are coming to realize what some of us tried to say before it began. There is no threat. We cannot win, if that is defined as a stable democratic Iraq. When we leave, the region will be worse for our effort and our putative adversary, Iran, will be stronger and emboldened. As people slowly realize that they will cry out for re-litigating because they feel duped. I only wish Democrats who voted in favor of the resolution would join in and say they were duped also. It is hard, yes, but it is better than perpetuating this fiction."

Time is Fast Approaching

In response to an ex colleague I summed up my lament on the Iraq war like this.

"I know you were kidding, of course, but my goals were much more modest. I was recommending a version of what we did in Viet Nam - declare victory and get out. From what I've been reading the last few days, even this group of dunderheads is coming around to that view. We will be hearing this week about how the progress in training troops is proceeding so well that we can begin a draw down and pull back. Amazing. And it will accelerate throughout 2006.

I never believed in the neocon mantra that the U. S. could bring a flowering of democracy to the Middle East. Those folks read different history books and have different life experiences overseas than I. However, there was a possibility that if we had let Sadaam's regime continue to crumble from within we could have seen a peaceful transformation in Iraq as we saw in Russia and Eastern Europe. And in the meantime, we could have devoted the military and financial resources to wiping out Qaeda and the Taliban and give Karzai a reasonable chance for success. But Feith, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and other assorted geniuses had a better idea. So we will now see a decade or more of regional instability, civil war in Iraq, and probably repression in Iraq at least as bad as under Sadaam. According to ex-PM Alawi yesterday in London, on that last point we are already there. Also, Afganistan will drift back to warlordism and become a breedinground for Islamists as Muchareef and Pakistan revert to their old ways.

For all of this, what do we get? Worldwide collapse of the admiration and prestige that the U.S. had built up for over fifty years. It took a hit in the late sixties and early seventies, but nothing like this. Iran's stature as a regional power enhanced. Several thousand brave soldiers dead and tenfold that number injured. Lord knows how many thousands of dead and injured Iraqis. Hundreds of billions of dollars of additional debt. The destruction of the U.S. Army that many think will take longer to rebuild than was required after the Viet Nam war. And, domestically, a sharp turn to the latent isolationist tendencies that are always just beneath the surface.

By the way, I supported the first Gulf war and was very disappointed in the Congressional Democrats, including my ex-boss, Foley. But this was so clearly a fustercluck from its inception, both in terms of motivation and prospects for success."