ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Iraq is Not a Fight I Would Have Picked, but...

This is a post that will likely be free of links, unless some occur to me later, because it is coming from my heart and mind.

Iraq is definitely not a fight I would have picked. I thought it was a dreadful error from the gitgo. The cost/benefit did not look good to me. I also thought it was of questionable morality to go around the world overthrowing governments without some better reason that they were muderous tyrants (there's an abundance of folks like that, so why Sadam?). Further, I did not care for the justifications given. I think there was a sense in the administration the the real reasons to do what we did would not work with the general public, so they went looking for reasons that they thought would work.

What do I think was the real reason?

Like certain observers, I think we did it because after 9/11/01 we had to start to change the world, and specifically the MidEast, so that nothing like that would happen again. We meant to bring democracy and prosperity to a part of the world that had not known such things in its entire history. Citizens of prosperous and democratic countries do not fly planes into skyscrapers.

At least that is what I think happened.

But rather than be candid with the public, the administration chose the Alice in Wonderland approach of WMDs, threats to America, women's sufferage and a host of other justifications that they thought would bring public support to the effort. Most of those were pretty good reasons but not the real reasons. And now everyone kind of senses that and the president has lost the support he sought with these peripheral rationales.

Perhaps none of this would have surfaced had the war and occupation gone quickly and smoothly. That is not how it has worked out. It has been a long hard slog that shows no signs of ending in the foreseeable future.

And so the "surrender lobby" has been handed the cudgel with which they have been beating up the administration, and not entirely without justification.

The president did not "lie." But he most assuredly gave into the odious Clintonian tactic of spinning. He ventured into the Kerry-like world of nuance. Where the reasons for war were straightforward, if difficult to sell to the American public, he chose to blow smoke.

Maybe they were correct in choosing that path. Maybe if the real reasons for war were expressed, then the goals they sought to achieve (changing the very nature of the MidEast) would never be achieved. Maybe they did what they thought they had to do. Maybe the ends justified the means.

Well, how has that worked out for us?

It would be helpful if the administration developed a clear public rationale for what we are doing. It is not too late. Tell the absolute truth now. It has the advantage of not only being truthful, but the subject of pre-war justifications will become moot. We are there to change the nature of a part of the world because to leave it as is courts world catastrophe.

Lincoln fought the Civil War not to end slavery but to preserve The Union. He felt there was no alternative to total victory. He resisted the urge to pursue secondary issues, such as slavery, because the primary reason was so compelling. If the Union were not preserved, slavery in the South might never have ended. Lincoln had a laser like focus. (About Lincoln, I will have more to say in the future.)

I am coming to believe that indeed the MidEast does have to be changed. I am coming to believe, assuming I have the administration's real rationale right, that we have to finish the job we have started. For that matter, having started it, I do not think we have any choice other than to finish it. To not do so could plunge us into decades of bloody conflict with the very ideology that brought us that atrocity on that bright sunny day in September 2001.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Comments (3)
St Wendeler said...

MontereyJohn - Nice post... and I'm glad that you come around to Bush's point on transforming the middle east. And we certainly can't allow Islamofascism to flourish by leaving prematurely...

However, I don't think you should buy into the assertion that WMDs were the only rationale put forward during the lengthy run-up to the war. In fact, the 1998 resolution which made official US policy regime change relied on more than just WMDs.

If you read the speeches and the Iraq War resolution (not the snippets and soundbites of the speeches and the resolution), you'll find out that transformation of the Middle East and democracy in Iraq has been publicly discussed for quite some time.

And regarding Lincoln and the Civil War, it should be noted that there were issues other than slavery which prompted the outbreak of hostilities. While the primary cause (and perhaps most immediate one) was slavery, there were other factors.

But back to the War On Terror... After 9/11, we made a decision to transform the Middle East. The War on Terror sought to remove regimes that harbor terrorists... in some cases, overt military action would be required... in other cases, covert military ops... in still others, cooperation with the governments and/or a call to Liberty with the oppressed peoples would be the action taken.

But when those planes flew into the World Trade Center, I knew that Saddam's days in this world were limited. Not because I suspected he was directly implicated in the attacks - no, because we had been at war with him since 1991 and we could no longer allow the status quo to continue in the Middle East.

In some regards, I am an isolationist conservative/libertarian. I don't think we had any business doing the heavy lifting on behalf of the Europeans in Kosovo. But, once we engaged, my only criticism was that we were too afraid to commit our military might in total - instead relying on releasing bombs at 50,000 feet.

After 9/11 however, it became quite clear that the Middle East had to change. As Mark Steyn pointed out, the Middle East hasn't just been ignored by the 20th and 21st century... it's been ignored for thousands of years. The problems with the Middle East date back to Darius and the Pharoahs. So, given the short time that we've been there, I think we've made great progress. That Lebanon is a burgeoning democracy, Syria appears to be weakaned, Afghanistan is joining the world community... these are all good things. And 20 years from now, Iraq may just surprise you.

However, the only thing we have to fear is our panty-waisted brethren on the Left side of the aisle. They'll stop at nothing to see Bush and the most evil country in the world (Amerika) taken down...

St Wendeler

St Wendeler said...

I should have said "I have had isolationist sentiments in the past.."

I also think that a strong US should have a sphere of influence in the Western Hemisphere... and in interventions where our national security interest is at stake. And transforming the Middle East is unquestionably about our national securiy - regardless of what the kossacks claim.

Monterey John said...

Not to pick nits, but I specifically said slavery was not the cause of the civil war, dis-union was. That was the one thing upon which there could be no compromise. And, in the end, there was no compromise.

As a result of taking that position, the nation is what it is today.