Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Retrospective Iraq"

The justification for the Iraq war was never intended to be a clear and present threat of WMD. That was only cited by Colin Powell as a legalism at the UN and seized on by the press after the fact as a discreditable element. The American reason for the Iraq operation was always that it was part of the GWOT because the MIddle East's culture of totalitarian aggression, whether rooted in Islam or Marxism or elsewhere, was a persistent threat to the security of the United States. Now Ricks is proclaiming ex cathedra that democracy can not take root in the region and that after all of our expenditure of blood and treasure we will only end up with a younger smarter Saddam. Certainly the situation antebellum was intolerable and there is no way to be sure what Iraq or other places will be like in 5 or 10 years. Clearly democracy has some effect on local culture, whether or not that will prove to be as viral as Natan Sharansky predicts will have to be seen. The presence of thousands of Americans in a country for ten years also has a powerful impact on the culture. It is possible that a persistent American policy of targeting aggressive totalitarians, coupled with support for democratic institutions, female education and a shift to a less dependent energy relationship to the region, would produce results in line with initial expectations. Much of the initial opposition to the war and the occupation was always rooted in hostility to any change in the institutional supports that underlay the Baathist regime and it's corrupting influence. The attacks on the US policy always quickly start with complaints about the disbandment of the old Iraqi Army as having created the insurgency. This claim is so brazen as to defy reasoned criticism. Of course we eliminated the old army when we conquered the place. When you have a war and conquer a country that is a given. It is fair to say that far to few troops were used initially and we failed to secure vast ammunition stocks. That was partly a flaw in Rumsfeld's plan, rooted in a desire to transform the military and a belief that Congress would only support war on the cheap. It was also a by product of the treachery of the French, fed by the same corrupting regime that we were dissolving along with its army and paid media links, that pressured Turkey to keep the 4th Infantry Division out. To this day I believe that while the WMD were not the overriding basis for America to attack there were programs that were only suspended and that stocks were evacuated during the long delay time that Chirac gave to Saddam.

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