Monday, November 28, 2005

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."


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