Jay Reding.com

The Incoherence Of Senator Lugar

RealClearPolitics has a transcript of Senator Lugar’s Iraq speech on the Senate floor. The problem with Senator Lugar’s ideas is that they’re simply incoherent — the goals he professes to support would be actively undermined by a precipitous American withdrawal from Iraq. It’s bad enough that Senator Lugar has the audacity to sit in judgment on the “surge” when it’s only now begun to take effect, but the dichotomy between his suggested course of action and his long-term foreign policy goals is massive.

Lugar argues:

To determine our future course, we should separate our emotions and frustrations about Iraq from a sober assessment of our fundamental national security goals. In my judgment, we should be concerned with four primary objectives:

First, we have an interest in preventing Iraq or any piece of its territory from being used as a safe haven or training ground for terrorists or as a repository or assembly point for weapons of mass destruction.

Certainly, the Senator is right about that. That is the first and foremost goal of the operation in Iraq. The problem is that such a goal cannot be met without significant numbers of boots on the ground.

You can’t do counter-terrorism from 35,000 feet in the air. Effective counter-terrorism requires the kind of intelligence that can only be gotten from talking to people and learning how to distinguish the non-combatant population from the terrorists. A smart missile, no matter how smart, doesn’t know the difference between a compound of AQI operatives and a room full of children. The only way to prevent Iraq from being a safe haven for terrorists is to cultivate the web of relationships on the ground that lets us identify and eliminate terrorist cells. A withdrawal from Iraq — even one that leaves a residual force behind, won’t cut it. We need to develop intelligence in every community and be able to act on that intelligence immediately. We barely have enough manpower to do it now — how can we be expected to pull it off with half the number of troops or less?

Second, we have an interest in preventing the disorder and sectarian violence in Iraq from upsetting wider regional stability. The consequences of turmoil that draws neighboring states into a regional war could be grave. Such turmoil could topple friendly governments, expand destabilizing refugee flows, close the Persian Gulf to shipping traffic, or destroy key oil production or transportation facilities, thus diminishing the flow of oil from the region with disastrous results for the world economy.

Again, the Senator is right. But how will we do that when we have nothing more than political leverage? The only way to stop terrorist organizations like the Jaish-al-Mahdi and AQI is to neutralize them with force. They’re not inclined to peaceably give up their terrorist goals, and no amount of diplomatic or political pressure is going to work against them.

Ideally, we’d have a strong and stable Iraqi government to deal with them, but we don’t have that yet, and it’s going to take more time and patience to get there. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have the patience to see that through, and Senator Lugar’s ill-advised comments only add fuel to the fire.

Third, we have an interest in preventing Iranian domination of the region. The fall of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni government opened up opportunities for Iran to seek much greater influence in Iraq and in the broader Middle East. An aggressive Iran would pose serious challenges for Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and other Arab governments. Iran is pressing a broad agenda in the Middle East with uncertain consequences for weapons proliferation, terrorism, the security of Israel, and other U.S. interests. Any course we adopt should consider how it would impact the regional influence of Iran.

A US withdrawal would allow Iran to continue to destabilize Iraq. If Iraq falls apart, and without us it would only be a matter of time, Moqtada al-Sadr and his band of Iranian-backed thugs would almost certainly take over a large swathe of Iraq. President Ahmadinejad has stated that he wants to form a Shi’ite crescent from Iran to Palestine, and us leaving Iraq makes that much more likely than less.

Again, Senator Lugar is good at identifying the problems, but all his solution does is make them infinitely worse.

Fourth, we have an interest in limiting the loss of U.S. credibility in the region and throughout the world as a result of our Iraq mission. Some loss of confidence in the United States has already occurred, but our subsequent actions in Iraq may determine how we are viewed for a generation.

And that loss of credibility would be dramatically greater when al-Qaeda can claim without any hyperbole that they brought the world’s superpower to its knees. A withdrawal from Iraq would send an unmistakable sign of weakness that every hostile power would exploit for years to come. The lessons of the Vietnam War make that clear — and in a world of terrorism and WMDs, having hostile regimes feeling unfettered in their ability to kick the US around is fatal.

This is what Senator Lugar calls a “sustainable” military posture:

Our security interests call for a downsizing and re-deployment of U.S. military forces to more sustainable positions in Iraq or the Middle East. Numerous locations for temporary or permanent military bases have been suggested, including Kuwait or other nearby states, the Kurdish territories, or defensible locations in Iraq outside of urban areas. All of these options come with problems and limitations. But some level of American military presence in Iraq would improve the odds that we could respond to terrorist threats, protect oil flows, and help deter a regional war. It would also reassure friendly governments that the United States is committed to Middle East security. A re-deployment would allow us to continue training Iraqi troops and delivering economic assistance, but it would end the U.S. attempt to interpose ourselves between Iraqi sectarian factions.

Again, we’re fighting an unconventional war. We need to know the local populations intimately in order to know who the bad guys are. We can’t do that from Kurdistan, Kuwait, or even outside those neighborhoods. We need to be closer to the Iraqi people, not farther away. We can’t achieve the very goals that Senator Lugar finds necessary under his own plan.

Here’s what Lugar calls for on a wider strategic front:

In this era, the United States cannot afford to be on a defensive footing indefinitely. It is essential that as we attempt to re-position ourselves from our current military posture in Iraq, we launch a multi-faceted diplomatic offensive that pushes adversarial states and terrorist groups to adjust to us. The best counter to perceptions that we have lost credibility in Iraq would be a sustained and ambitious set of initiatives that repairs alliances and demonstrates our staying power in the Middle East.

The Iraq Study Group report recommended such a diplomatic offensive, stating “all key issues in the Middle East – the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms, and extremism and terrorism, are inextricably linked.” The report stressed that diplomacy aimed at solving key regional issues would “help marginalize extremists and terrorists, promote U.S. values and interests, and improve America’s global image.”

A diplomatic offensive is likely to be easier in the context of a tactical drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq. A drawdown would increase the chances of stimulating greater economic and diplomatic assistance for Iraq from multi-lateral organizations and European allies, who have sought to limit their association with an unpopular war.

I’m sorry, but this is the same old mealy-mouthed bullshit. Who here really believes that a “diplomatic offensive” scares the mullahs in Tehran in the least? Because anyone who thinks that true is a sucker.

Our problems are only partially based on poor diplomacy. The European Union is absolutely feckless and have economic ties to Tehran that give them reason of self-interest not to upset the status quo. Even when that status quo is intolerable. Furthermore, the European left has been infected with a vicious anti-Semitism that means that some of them wouldn’t mind of Israel were “counterbalanced” by a nuclear Iran — even if that almost certainly would mean a nuclear arms race in the region.

What we need is more than diplomacy, it’s about talking softly while carrying a big stick. We have to make it quite clear that all options are on the table, and that includes the assassination of the leadership of hostile countries, economic sanctions, and targeted attacks against economic interests vital to those countries. Damascus and Tehran have nothing to fear from a “diplomatic offensive” but they are scared shitless than their own restive populations will turn against their autocratic rule. Instead of trying to talk with regimes that hate us and have nothing but contempt for our weakness, we should be doing whatever we can to dispel the idea that we’re a weak power. A withdrawal from Iraq — especially when Iraq is part of a US-Iranian proxy war is like putting a giant KICK ME sign on this nation — and Damascus and Tehran would certainly be less willing to compromise if they know that we don’t have the guts to fight the regional war in the Middle East that they’re already well on their way to sparking.

As usual, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis rears its ugly head. It seems like every foreign policy expert thinks that solving the unsolvable is the key to Middle East peace. If that’s the case, let’s go the Curtis LeMay route and nuke the Middle East into a glass parking lot. The simple reality of the situation is there is nothing that anyone can do to fix the Israeli/Palestinian crisis. It is not a diplomatically solvable problem. The only people who can fix it are the Palestinians, and they’re unlikely to do so until things continue to spiral out of control for a much longer time. Trying to make that issue the cornerstone of every single plan in the Middle East is idiotic and counterproductive. It simply justifies the Arab tactic of using the Palestinians as an excuse for not doing anything. Iraq has nothing to do with Israel, nor with Palestine. Trying to solve that problem as a precondition for solving problems that are far more pressing is an affectation of a foreign policy elite who have bought into the Arab cult of victimhood and who seem pathologically unable to comprehend that the Palestinians are being used as a convenient excuse to justify keeping the autocratic status quo in the Middle East in place.

Senator Lugar tries to draw a “third way” between withdrawal and staying the course. He has failed. His own goals are destroyed by his suggested policies, and if he really believes that the four goals he sets out in his speech are truly important, then withdrawal is the single most irresponsible thing we can do.

ADDENDUM: Some time in the next few days, I hope to draw up a more realistic plan for victory in Iraq, one that recognizes many of the same factors that Senator Lugar does, but suggests ways in which the United States can actually achieve those goals rather than take actions that will weaken the United States for decades to come.

5 responses to “The Incoherence Of Senator Lugar”

  1. Mark says:

    “The problem with Senator Lugar’s ideas is that they’re simply incoherent”

    It’s not you, Jay. It’s the rest of the world.

    “It’s bad enough that Senator Lugar has the audacity to sit in judgment on the “surge” when it’s only now begun to take effect”

    It’s only now taken effect? Huh? I don’t seem to recall you and the dwindling number of war proponents having difficulty “sitting in judgment” of the surge only days after it took effect when it happened to correspond with a temporary lull in violence.

    “Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have the patience to see that through”

    Given Bush’s political capital in 2002, if you guys had been honest enough back in 2002 to tell us that we’d be in Iraq for nine years (as you now suggest it will take to “effectively beat a counterinsurgency”) rather than tell us the we’d be greeted as liberators by a rose and tulip-wielding Iraqi peasantry and declared the mission accomplished more than four years ago, the public may have gone along with it. But since dishonesty was the game plan from the get-go, you set yourself up for this “lack of patience”. Kinda hot in the hell you’ve created for yourselves, huh?

    “The lessons of the Vietnam War make that clear”

    Only you could say that in defense of prolonging the Iraqi quagmire without even a hint of irony in your tone.

    “we’re fighting an unconventional war”

    Every war ever fought could be defined as “unconventional” for one insignificant reason or another. The only thing unconventional about this one is that we idiotically invaded a nation that posed no threat to us.

    “infected with a vicious anti-Semitism that means that some of them wouldn’t mind of Israel were “counterbalanced” by a nuclear Iran”

    Here you go again with the same idiotic leap of faith inferring that any opposition to the policies of the nation of Israel necessarily constitutes anti-Semitism. Isn’t that the same thing as saying you “hate Mexicans” because you oppose Bush’s immigration plan?

    “It seems like every foreign policy expert thinks that solving the unsolvable is the key to Middle East peace”

    It’s no more or less of a pipe dream than expecting to install peaceful, freedom-loving democracies in a region of the world where the majority of the population would vote in America-hating theocrats and/or terrorists.

    “Some time in the next few days, I hope to draw up a more realistic plan for victory in Iraq”

    Why do I get the feeling it can best be summed up in three words….”STAY THE COURSE!”

  2. Jay Reding says:

    It’s not you, Jay. It’s the rest of the world.

    It’s me, the commanders on the ground, and people who actually spend time in Iraq. Again, who has more knowledge of Iraq, Sen. Lugar or Gen. Petraeus? The idea that we should be listening to everyone but those who spend every moment in Iraq trying to make things work is exactly the sort of stupidity that is killing us in this war and will kill us when our current idiocy sparks the next.

    It’s only now taken effect? Huh? I don’t seem to recall you and the dwindling number of war proponents having difficulty “sitting in judgment” of the surge only days after it took effect when it happened to correspond with a temporary lull in violence.

    Name one who said that.

    Given Bush’s political capital in 2002, if you guys had been honest enough back in 2002 to tell us that we’d be in Iraq for nine years (as you now suggest it will take to “effectively beat a counterinsurgency”) rather than tell us the we’d be greeted as liberators by a rose and tulip-wielding Iraqi peasantry and declared the mission accomplished more than four years ago, the public may have gone along with it. But since dishonesty was the game plan from the get-go, you set yourself up for this “lack of patience”. Kinda hot in the hell you’ve created for yourselves, huh?

    This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

    Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

    — George W. Bush, September 20, 2001

    We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We’re bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We’re pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We’ve begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We’re helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people.

    The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

    — George W. Bush, May 20, 2003

    [In regards to referring to the current conflict as “the long war”]

    “What we decided was, it’s a good way of highlighting the idea that this war is likely to take awhile and will require both the commitment of significant resources and the resolve of the American people,” a senior Joint Staff officer said.

    James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, co-wrote a book last year titled “Winning the Long War: Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom.” Carafano said the name captures the only major element of the war about which everyone agrees.

    “We can’t agree it’s global, we can’t agree it’s terrorism, but we all generally agree it’s a war . . . [and] it’s going to be long,” Carafano said. “Transnational terrorism is the problem of the 21st century.”

    Said a senior Central Command officer: “What we’re fighting is an ‘-ism,’ the first 21st-century ‘-ism,’ the way we fought communism and fascism in the 20th century.”

    The fact that so many don’t bother to pay attention to the world doesn’t excuse them imagining their own arguments. Iraq has always been presented as one part of a very long war, a war that may not end for some time. The President’s rhetoric always made that clear, it’s just that the media never bothered to pick up on it. (In fact, the second quotation is from Bush’s much-misunderstood speech on board the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.)

    Only you could say that in defense of prolonging the Iraqi quagmire without even a hint of irony in your tone.

    No, there’s no irony. Again, read Gen. Petreaus’ doctoral dissertation. Shortly after Tet, the Viet Cong were utterly routed. The rest of the war was largely fought between US troops and NVA regulars. Mark Woodruff wrote a long and very well-researched book called “Unheralded Victory” that took documentary evidence from both sides which clearly showed that nearly everything that is popularly thought of the Vietnam War was wrong.

    There would still be a South Vietnam today had the US not withheld air support in 1975. Millions of deaths would have been averted.

    Again, those who fail to learn from history are damned to repeat it. Those who fail to learn the correct lessons are simply damned.

    Every war ever fought could be defined as “unconventional” for one insignificant reason or another. The only thing unconventional about this one is that we idiotically invaded a nation that posed no threat to us.

    Another patently idiotic comment that displays a complete lack of any understanding of this war. Again, name one single conflict in history in which the use of asymmetric warfare, a pervasive media environment, the use of suicide bombers, etc. is as prevalent as it is in this conflict. Or did I miss the part where al-Qaeda fighters wore uniforms, obeyed the rules of conventional warfare, and attacked the US using conventional tactics.

    If you can’t even make a cogent arguement, don’t bother. All you’re doing is listening to the sound of your own typing, and not bothering to use those little grey cells of yours that are currently wasting away on a diet of cheap Democratic partisan propaganda.

    Here you go again with the same idiotic leap of faith inferring that any opposition to the policies of the nation of Israel necessarily constitutes anti-Semitism. Isn’t that the same thing as saying you “hate Mexicans” because you oppose Bush’s immigration plan?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1721172.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3586543.stm
    http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ASInt_13/4185_13.asp
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1162378460003&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    Furthermore, I didn’t say that any opposition to Israel is a de facto sign of anti-Semitism, just that some of the left are motivated by it. Which is true. If you have to invent meanings to clear sentences to make a point, that’s a good sign you’re not making an argument. It’s a common tactic of yours, and it’s getting tiresome and transparent.

    It’s no more or less of a pipe dream than expecting to install peaceful, freedom-loving democracies in a region of the world where the majority of the population would vote in America-hating theocrats and/or terrorists.

    Of course, I forgot. We all know that Arabs are just too backwards to live in democratic societies… which is the clear implication of your statement.

    Autocracy in the Middle East is feeding terrorism. If democratization inflames terrorism, then it’s a wash either way. Then again, the closest thing to a truism in international relations is that democracies tend not to declare war on each other.

    Why do I get the feeling it can best be summed up in three words….”STAY THE COURSE!”

    Well, then it wouldn’t stretch your intellectual capacity, would it? Unfortunately for you, it’s a hell of a lot more complex than that. Maybe you can have someone read it to you using smaller words and this time you’ll understand the argument being made…

  3. Mark says:

    “The idea that we should be listening to everyone but those who spend every moment in Iraq trying to make things work is exactly the sort of stupidity that is killing us in this war and will kill us when our current idiocy sparks the next.”

    Your description of “those who spend every moment in Iraq” seems to be almost exclusively limited to General Petraeus….as if his opinion is infallible. Generals who are hired by the administration are done so with a reasonable expectation of being told what they want to hear. So whether Petraeus has “more knowledge” about Iraq isn’t necessarily the end-all to the discussion if he someone else’s agenda to carry out. And to dismiss entirely the idea that Lugar, a man with decades of experience overseeing American foreign policy and someone whose checks are not signed by the Bush administration, might know something about Iraq policy that lifelong civilian Jay Reding of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, doesn’t, is the height of egomania.

    “Name one who said that.”

    http://www.townhall.com/columnists/PatrickRuffini/2007/02/24/shhhh_the_surge_is_working
    http://www.redstate.com/stories/spotlight_blogs/the_surge_is_working
    http://www.nypost.com/seven/03202007/postopinion/opedcolumnists/why_its_working_____opedcolumnists_gordon_cucullu.htm?page=0
    http://www.uncorrelated.com/2007/03/surge_working_democrats_panick.html
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/sshhh_bushs_surge_may_be_working/

    Your cherry-picked quotes from Bush speeches are impressively laid out, but is it your contention that the American people were led to believe we would be engaged in a nine-year effort to squelch Iraq’s counterinsurgency back on March 19, 2003? Was the Bush administration’s “Mission Accomplished” moment really meant to serve as a reminder than only two out of more than 100 months that this military action was to require had been completed? The message to the American people from throughout pro-war political circles was that this war would be a short-term cakewalk. Anybody who disputes that only manages to further insult the intelligence of the people they already fooled once.

    “Of course, I forgot. We all know that Arabs are just too backwards to live in democratic societies… which is the clear implication of your statement.”

    At least at the present time, that is indeed the implication of my statement. Do you believe there are any Arab nations that would fail to elect a Taliban clone for a government if democracy was bestowed upon them tomorrow.

  4. Jay Reding says:

    Your description of “those who spend every moment in Iraq” seems to be almost exclusively limited to General Petraeus….as if his opinion is infallible. Generals who are hired by the administration are done so with a reasonable expectation of being told what they want to hear.

    Which is your bias, not his. Gen. Petraeus wasn’t hired to be a yes man — there are plenty of others who would do that job. Gen. Petraeus was hired because he’s the best man for the job. He quite literally wrote the book on counter-insurgency warfare.

    Why don’t you try and find a copy – a decent federal depository library should have a copy, if not I’m sure someone from the Woodrow Wilson School would be more than happy to provide you with a copy.

    So whether Petraeus has “more knowledge” about Iraq isn’t necessarily the end-all to the discussion if he someone else’s agenda to carry out.

    Which again, makes the unfounded assumption that he does. One can read his work as being deeply critical of the way in which Iraq was handled. Again, you attack Petraeus’ honor just based on the fact that he took the job. That’s your bias seeping through. You’re not thinking objectively — and we all know you’re capable of it when you dispassionately analyze the facts.

    And to dismiss entirely the idea that Lugar, a man with decades of experience overseeing American foreign policy and someone whose checks are not signed by the Bush administration, might know something about Iraq policy that lifelong civilian Jay Reding of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, doesn’t, is the height of egomania.

    For one, I haven’t lived in Sioux Falls for quite some time now. Secondly, Lugar is still objectively wrong. Look at his arguments. Try to find some logical connection between withdrawing from Iraq and advancing the overall war on al-Qaeda. On what rational grounds could one make such a connection? That al-Qaeda has no interest in Iraq? We know that to be false. That Iraq doesn’t need our help? Nobody believes that, not even many in Iraq. That the Middle East would be better with a festering cesspool of terrorism? That’s a non-starter. That our withdrawal wouldn’t be taken as a sign of weakness, emboldening our enemies? Basic human psychology says no.

    The only argument you seem to have is that we just can’t win. The problem with that is that if it were true, things would be much, much worse than they are. If we really couldn’t win, then there’d be nothing holding back the complete disintegration of Iraq. Al-Anbar province really would have been “lost”. Attack would be rising dramatically everywhere in Iraq. We wouldn’t be talking about a casualty rate in the single digits anymore.

    The reason why the media misses the point is because the stuff they don’t report on isn’t just important, it’s the most crucial metric of the war. Why is a market opening so important? Because if you really believe that your country is flying apart, that terrorists are everywhere, the last thing on anyone’s mind is going to the market — especially because that’s where suicide bombers hit. And if you really think that al-Qaeda is going to win, you sure as hell wouldn’t collaborate with the Americans unless you have a death wish.

    Yet all those things are happening. So either the leaders of those al-Anbar tribes are completely out of their minds, or they know something that the rest of us don’t. For that matter, why do the troops in Iraq keep reenlisting? Do you think they’re idiots, or maybe they actually believe we can win this thing.

    The argument that Iraq is unwinnable is an excuse, pure and simple. It’s a way of washing our hands of the whole affair. It isn’t that easy. It never was. If we don’t have the stomach to fight now, things will get a lot worse — because we’re going to end up back in Iraq even if we do try to leave, but the next time will likely be in response to an attack that’s taken out a major American city. Ceding control of Iraq to al-Qaeda is not an option. Failure is not an option, and instead of sitting around carping and whining our political leadership should get the hell out of the way and let the grunts do their jobs.

    Your cherry-picked quotes from Bush speeches are impressively laid out, but is it your contention that the American people were led to believe we would be engaged in a nine-year effort to squelch Iraq’s counterinsurgency back on March 19, 2003? Was the Bush administration’s “Mission Accomplished” moment really meant to serve as a reminder than only two out of more than 100 months that this military action was to require had been completed? The message to the American people from throughout pro-war political circles was that this war would be a short-term cakewalk. Anybody who disputes that only manages to further insult the intelligence of the people they already fooled once.

    The war was a short-term cakewalk. But this isn’t the same war we fought in 2003. Saddam Hussein is gone. The Ba’ath are gone. Neither will ever return. We’re in a totally different phase now, and it is the long war that Bush said would happen. Again, if we don’t have the stomach for it, then we’ll end up losing more lives and spending more money down the road.

    That’s the problem with this country. We’re so self-obsessed that we can’t look at anything longer term than the next five minutes. Whether or not the American people though Iraq was going to be long or short, we’ve been in a long and difficult war since September 11, of which Iraq is now unquestionably apart. You can’t win one without winning both, and if we lose in Iraq we will very likely see a return to the sort of mass-casualty attacks that marked the 1990s.

    Think things can’t get worse? When we start seeing the Middle East tear itself apart and Iranian tanks start leveling Baghdad, then things will have gotten a hell of a lot worse. Sadly, our short-sighted and feckless political class is making than more rather than less likely.

    At least at the present time, that is indeed the implication of my statement.

    Then you’re a bigot. At least you’ve the fortitude to admit it.

    Do you believe there are any Arab nations that would fail to elect a Taliban clone for a government if democracy was bestowed upon them tomorrow.

    A Taliban clone? You’re missing the change that has swept the region in the last few years. Radical Islam is no longer killing Westerners, they’re killing more Muslims than anyone else. The leading cause of death in Iraq isn’t Americans, it’s fellow Muslims. Al-Qaeda is wildly unpopular in Iraq.

    In the short term, the terrorists will win. However, that may be a necessary precondition for the democratic development of the Middle East. Living in an autocracy sucks, to put it mildly. No rational human wants to live in the Taliban’s world, and when al-Qaeda tried to force it on the Iraqis they were soundly rejected. Hamas can’t govern, and ended up making many Palestinians long for the Israelis to bring law and order.

    The root cause of this terrorism isn’t poverty, it isn’t Israel, and it isn’t the US. It is the fact that the Arab world is mired in a culture of autocracy and deliberately kept powerless. If democratization was so good for terrorists, you’d see terrorists calling for democratic elections in places like Iraq. Yet they don’t, because ultimately a people who have political control over their own lives don’t become terrorists.

    There’s no reason to believe that the Arabs are any more backwards than anyone else. There’s a difference between having a democratic deficit and being unable to have democracy. Democratization is a process, not an event. It requires development, which requires time.

    The central flaw of the Bush Administration’s handling of Iraq from 2003 to 2007 was that it assumed that democratization would just happen. Now the anti-war side wants to condemn the Iraqis to hell because they didn’t make democracy just happen. Both are predicated on the same basic mistakes.

    That’s the sick irony here — that the Democrats want to waste American blood and treasure and ruin the Middle East for political gain based on bad intelligence and a fundamental unwillingness to accept reality when they accuse the President of the same. And even if Bush was wrong then, doing something even more wrong won’t erase that mistake.

  5. Mark says:

    “Again, you attack Petraeus’ honor just based on the fact that he took the job.”

    I’m not necessarily attacking his honor, but I also refuse to uniterally defer to his instinct on every aspect of Iraq policy. You are suggesting that because Petraeus is “in Iraq”, his analysis is necessarily accurate while Richard Lugar and John Murtha are necessarily wrong. That’s generally the extent of your argument on this point. Wouldn’t that also mean that Paul Hackett’s assessment of the situation in Iraq is worth more than yours?

    “Try to find some logical connection between withdrawing from Iraq and advancing the overall war on al-Qaeda”

    It’s basically the same one I was making 48 hours ago….that we have to remove ourselves from the line of fire and proceed with thwarting al-Qaeda through alternative venues….or else we’re spinning our wheels. You generally make good points about the potential regional consequences of withdrawal, but I’m skeptical that of the regional conflict you predict occurring if it meant the Saudis and Iranians destroying their economies by choosing sides in the Iraqi civil war. And I don’t believe Lugar (or anyone for that matter) is calling for complete military abandonment of Iraq, just abandonment of a six-figure American troop presence to babysit feuding ethnic groups.

    “For that matter, why do the troops in Iraq keep reenlisting? Do you think they’re idiots, or maybe they actually believe we can win this thing.”

    Soldiers in combat feel a sense of loyalty to their group. My best friend is very opposed to the war but nearly re-upped himself last year….so did Paul Hackett. The comradery of wartime soldiers is not necessarily indicative of love for the mission.

    “and it is the long war that Bush said would happen.”

    If he said it, he whispered it. What percent of the American people do you think believed we were in for a decadelong presence in Iraq back in 2003? If it’s less than a clear majority, then the people were not sufficiently informed of the magnitude of this commitment….which has fostered the ill will the administration is suffering now.

    “Then you’re a bigot”

    A bigot? No more than if I said I distrusted the prospects of successful democracy among Branch Davidian or Heaven’s Gate cult members, another demographic of people brainwashed by a “faith” that renders them incapable of rational thought….just as is the case in the modern Arab world.

    “It is the fact that the Arab world is mired in a culture of autocracy and deliberately kept powerless.”

    But it’s their radical religious beliefs that keep them from realizing that.

    “That’s the sick irony here — that the Democrats want to waste American blood and treasure and ruin the Middle East for political gain”

    Anybody who appreciates American political history knows the Democrats will receive no “political gain” from leaving Iraq. The second we leave, with or without the realization of your doomsday prophesies for the region, the voting public will redirect its outrage towards the “loss of American dignity and honor that came when we retreated from Iraq”. The only way the Dems can even win in 2008 is if the war in Iraq is still a mess. If we withdraw and the war is off the table, the Bush-less GOP gets to be the party of “restoring America’s might in the world”. There’s a reason why Reid and Pelosi are willing to drag their feet on this despite the screams of their base.