March 19, 2006

Happy Birthday, Democratic Iraq.

Glenn quotes Strategy Page:

The key to peace in Iraq is not a military problem, the terrorists and Sunni Arab rebels are beaten. The key to peace is political, and the ability of Iraqi factions to work together. Iraqis have paid a lot of attention to Lebanon, looking for answers. Lebanon is split by religious factions (about one third Shia, one third Sunni and one third Christian). Lebanon went through a 15 year civil war (1975-90), and since making peace, the country has prospered (without oil, just the skills of the people), despite interference from Syria. The Lebanese example gives hope, but the payoff is in the performance. The Iraqi politicians have to perform. In the next few months, we'll see if they can.

And adds:

Indeed. The problems are now mostly political, and can only be worked out by politicians. That said, the United States could have done more to dissuade Iran and Syria from interfering. Upside is that Iraqis know this, and if things work out they're likely to remember, to our benefit and the Syrians' and Iranian mullahs' detriment.

It's delicate right now. But I have a lot of respect for the Iraqis, and I think they'll pull this off.

Posted by Attila Girl at March 19, 2006 11:51 PM | TrackBack

"the United States could have done more to dissuade Iran and Syria from interfering. "

Yep, we should have invaded them also.

It is an obvious extension of the JFK-neocon ultra-liberal doctrine of roaming arond the world standing up democracies, because "we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

Yes, "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike."

And we can be feel morally correct and proper in this because, as the liberal JFK and the liberal neocons mostly agree, "And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."

So, yes, overthrow those evil dictatorships l. . . . .

Aren't liberals wonderful?

Posted by: Averroes at March 20, 2006 03:56 PM

9/11 took a toll on isolationism, absolutely.

No man is an island, Baby.

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 20, 2006 04:22 PM

"9/11 took a toll on isolationism, absolutely."

That is, unfortunately, true. Of course, I am talking about real isolationism, not the caricature made by its opponents. Isolationists do not ignore threats, for instance.

"No man is an island, Baby."

Of course. Now you've got my heart bleedin' again, sweetheart.

But this isn't about "men." It is about countries.

It is about whether our government should galavant around the globe doing what JFK thought we should do, spreading democracy like a hippy flower child in a patterned dress and perpetual smile pulling rose petals out of her bag and tossing them to the wind.

Back when Johnny said that, I thought it was a recipe for perpetual war. i still think so.

Posted by: Averroes at March 21, 2006 03:47 AM

Okay, let me spell it out: the Middle East has been a petri dish for terrorists, and the only way to stop that process--the only certain cure--is to give democracy a foothold in that region.

Unless there's something else we haven't tried to get people to stop attacking us . . .?

If we want the Jihadis to stop blowing up our stuff/people, we have to slow their recruitment efforts, and the only way to do that is for young men in that region to see an alternative.

At least that's what I think. Sell me on your approach.

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 21, 2006 08:53 AM

"Okay, let me spell it out: the Middle East has been a petri dish for terrorists, and the only way to stop that process--the only certain cure--is to give democracy a foothold in that region."

This is the neocon quasi-liberal dogma, but i don't buy it. First of all, I'm not convinced that "giving them" a democracy will cure anything. Secondly, i'm not sure there ae not other cures.

btw, my German friend thinks we are sissies when it comes to terrorism. he did the math and encouraged each of us to figure out our personal chamnces of being injured by a terrorist. He lived through the terrorism in Germany. You night note that the terrorists not only were living in a democratic country, they had grown up in it.

Note that this theory is based on the strange notion that domeocracies are not war like. But we all know that Athens was the scourge of the Greek world, hated by everyone.

The other pedestal is the notion that when prototerrorists see a democracy nearby, they will suddenly lose their hatred for the US. I find this to be wishful thinking, unless one is thinking in the extreme long term.

In fact, a democracy close to Mecca would be regarded as just more evidence of the incursion of infidel western decadence into the holy region of Islam, providing MORE reason to attack the US, sooner rather than later.

There is some basis for this policy, i suppose, in the Carter Doctrine. And noine other than Tom Friedman, the card-carrying liberal, supports this problem. in fact, before the war, he wrote a column examining six justifications of the war submitted by the Bush administration (regime change, WMD, etc.,) and pronounced that this neocon argument was the only one which made sense, and, in fact, was all that was necessary to justify the invasion. So, he answered the question of why iraq by saying, "because we can."

You see, it had to be someplace, and in iraq, we could.

I think.

The fact is that we understand very little of the culture over there. I cringe whenever i here some pundit say that Iran wants the Shia in iraq to come to power. In fact, if this were to happen, the Iraqi Shia could reassert their old dominance in the Shia sect, based in places like Najaf and Karbala, and call for a return of all Shia mullahs to traditional Shia practice, which is modeled by Shistani, that of an advisor who may give advice when asked by a politician, but tends to stay out of politics.

In other words, there is more to the situation than can be captured in soundbites or those three minute pseudo debates on TV.

(One quick example: you often hear the antiBushites condemn the administration for saying that we would be greeteed as liberators, saying they were either lying or stupid. but we all saw just such a greeting by many Iraqis, and on Fareed whatsisname's program a few nights ago, to erxperts just back from Iraqi Kurdistan and Fareed agreed that if Bush ran for office there now, he would get 95% of the vote.)

"If we want the Jihadis to stop blowing up our stuff/people, we have to slow their recruitment efforts, and the only way to do that is for young men in that region to see an alternative."

This is a common general approach. My German friend thought this also, and suggested that we "give them jobs." We had many long discussions on how one goes about giving jobs. but Friedman likes to contrast India with this region. He goes so far as to say that the example of india may provide that alternative, and not because it is democratic.

The problem, so far as i can see it, is in the intellectual roots of the terrorists, the followers of Sayyid Qtub, including the Khilafa movement. The Iraqi bloggers also point to the spread of the Wahabbi sect, which is to islam like the Baptists are to Christianity. (That may generate some more comments.)

We have not done ourselves any favors with our usual, American cultural insensitivity in the area.

But it is also important to remember that these terrorists are not, by and large, disaffected poor people. they actually tend to be middle class and educated, at least the leaders.

I must say at this point that the invasion left these questions somewhat moot, since once we invaded, following the neocon brick road was the ONLY way to proceed. And we MUST make it work.

Now, what about Iran? the neocon approach is not specific, it postulates that it should be followed everywhere, as means permit.

Frankly, i think that in 50 years, mmy descendents will be living in a country which is not on the radar for terrorists, and we will be asking the superpower for help and protection. Anjd the remnants of these Islamic terrorists will be setting their sights on the great Satan, China.

The important thing here is to realize that the methods we have always used to deal with other nations do not apply here. We can't negotiate with terrorists, we can't amass alliances against them, and we can't invade them.

Posted by: Averroes at March 21, 2006 09:53 AM

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