August 21, 2005
-- by Dave Johnson
What we all want is for the war to end. I'm not at all sure that just pulling our forces out now accomplishes that. It might even widen the war and bring it here.
What we should be talking about it how to END the war.
Update - The bully down the street starts a fire in the 12-story building next to your house. If the fire burns it could topple onto your house. Do you let the building burn because the bully is an asshole who shouldn't have started the fire?
(In no way do I advocate "staying the course." I think we should be advocating bringing the UN in rather than just "get out", and prosecute Bush. And what Republican Sen. and war veteran Hagel said, sit down and negotiate with Iran about ending this.)
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I don't believe there is any way to end Bush's war, aside from withdrawal. That was the whole point of Kevin Drum's challenge. Exit is the only remaining military strategy.
Bush and the theocons tried to guarantee a permanent U.S. military presence when they had Bremer dismiss the Iraqi army. They knew exactly what they were doing.
Newt Gingrich revealed the current theocon talking point when he insisted Iraq would last 50-70 years.
Since Bush has two full years to continue to destroy Iraq, it is certainly beyond human aid as a geographic or political entity. Unless someone can meet Drum's challenge, the only way to end Bush's war is withdrawal.
That won't end war between the Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds, but nothing will end the forever war in the Middle East.
What Bush has gotten us into is a lot more dangerous than we've realized. I watched the first part of the National Geographic documentary on 9/11 last night. It's incredibly boring with incredibly awful cinematic mannerisms, but it's the first historical overview of the development of al Qeda since 1980, extremely well researched and honestly told, that I've seen. If they show part 1 again, watch it.
This was a revelation to me. This is not a matter of some guy hiding in a cave, or of a handful of fanatics inside Islam. This is a full-fledged multinational religious movement, with bin Laden as presiding saint, that's being run like a multinational corporation. The worst of it is that bin Laden DOES have all the trappings of sainthood, the fabled son of a wealthy family who renounces comfort (although certainly not his wealth) to live among and help the poorest of the poor like Buddha, St. Francis, Mother Theresa. His warlike qualities fit perfectly into Islamic theology.
Thanks to Bush's failure to capture him, he now has mythical properties equal to those of Jesus Christ and Robin Hood. Thanks to our brutality in Iraq, this movement is motivated to grow ever stronger and more powerful. Wealthy from its beginning, this is not a rag-tag army of poverty-stricken peasants. It is led by extremely well-educated intellectuals, many of them educated in the US, busily recruiting those poverty-stricken peasants. And it is incredibly important to finally grasp the fact that this is a multinational movement that circles the entire globe. This is the most formidable enemy we could possibly face and we've seriously underestimated it so far.
Whether or not you agree with Dave's exact answer (and I mostly do), I have to give him credit for keeping his eye on the ball. I have noticed a sloppiness of thinking that is beginning to pervade Democratic blogs (mostly from the commenters). Withdrawal is not an answer in of itself.
"Bring the troops home" is no more of a plan than "invade Iraq" was. In both cases the key question is "yes, and then what?" Just as Bush had no post-invasion security and reconstruction plan, many Democratic bloggers have no post-withdrawal plan. Leaving Iraq as a simmering stew of nationalism, rival fundamentalist Islamic movements, and rampant criminality is not a Good Thing in my opinion.
Immediate, instantaneous, YESTERDAY withdrawal is the only "answer". (What was the question?)
Of course, it would be nice if the UN or some other patsies could be convinced to insert new targets onto the streets of Iraq. So we could feel better about ourselves as we leave. But that's all they would achieve.
The fact is that we fucked up Iraq. We are not able to improve the situation because the situation cannot be improved. The only thing we can do there is make things worse. For Iraq, for the US and for the world.
The sloppy thinking is the arrogant assumption (and it's a pretty preposterous assumption given the facts we see every day!) that the US can in any way improve the situation we helped to create.
Out now. Immediately. Yesterday.
Juan Cole writes:
"Personally, I think "US out now" as a simple mantra neglects to consider the full range of possible disasters that could ensue. For one thing, there would be an Iraq civil war. Iraq wasn't having a civil war in 2002. And although you could argue that what is going on now is a subterranean, unconventional civil war, it is not characterized by set piece battles and hundreds of people killed in a single battle, as was true in Lebanon in 1975-76, e.g. People often allege that the US military isn't doing any good in Iraq and there is already a civil war. These people have never actually seen a civil war and do not appreciate the lid the US military is keeping on what could be a volcano."There's much more.
Posted by: Dave Johnson at August 22, 2005 2:58 PM
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