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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, November 30, 2003

More wishful thinking

OK, So this isn't by Paul Krugman. I swear to God I saw his name linked on the Times web page. Obviously, this is more of the same idiocy from Tom Friedman. I would have commented on this, differently, of course, but hey, it was a mistake. I was going to catch some football at a friend's bar and I haven't done that in a few years. Long story. Let's just say, watching football, drinking beer and eating causes you to gain weight. In my case, 10lbs in one month.

The Chant Not Heard

Published: November 30, 2003


But here's why the left needs to get beyond its opposition to the war and start pitching in with its own ideas and moral support to try to make lemons into lemonade in Baghdad:

First, even though the Bush team came to this theme late in the day, this war is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan. The primary focus of U.S. forces in Iraq today is erecting a decent, legitimate, tolerant, pluralistic representative government from the ground up. I don't know if we can pull this off. We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot.

Unless we begin the long process of partnering with the Arab world to dig it out of the developmental hole it's in, this angry, frustrated region is going to spew out threats to world peace forever. The next six months in Iraq — which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there — are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time. And it is way too important to leave it to the Bush team alone.

On Iraq, there has to be more to the left than anti-Bushism. The senior Democrat who understands that best is the one not running for president — Senator Joe Biden. He understands that the liberal opposition to the Bush team should be from the right — to demand that we send more troops to Iraq, and more committed democracy builders, to do the job better and smarter than the Bush team has.

Krugman has fallen, sadly, into the trap of believing democracy can work by impositon. Which it, of course, cannot.

The focus of US forces in Iraq is basically humiliating men in front of their families and killing children in a desperate bid to stay alive. It's not building anything like democracy. It's not building stability or security. It wasn't noble or decent or good. It was a mistake based on a series of conscious lies and distortions. Desperate teenagers are trying to stay alive by any means, and if that means dead seven year olds, policemen and IGC members, that's their problem.

We cannot partner with the Arab world. We have alienated them to a degree which is beyond frightening. From our racist slurs to our open disrespect of Arab culture and Islam, as varied as letting dogs search bags with Korans to treating the IGC as American puppets, the Arab world has no reason to help us in Iraq.

The reality is simple: Ayatollah Sistani and his Sunni peers will decide who runs Iraq. Not any amount of nation building, not trying harder, not making nice. We have thousands of Iraqis in jail, we fired the Iraqi Army and sent them into penury. We treat Iraqis with racist contempt and disrespect. The President's brother plots to carve his share from Iraq. We imposed a little known and detested exile as the next dictator of Iraq, without even considering that those who survived Saddam might disagree.

The Bush team embarked on this project cloaked in lies. They never told the truth to the American public. It is beyond redemption. The only thing is left is our escape from Iraq.

We have no allies in Iraq. No support, no friends. Only collaborators and lackies. The shia watch and wait for us to fail. The Iraqi resistance garners more support daily. The embittered ex-soldiers having thrown their lot in the resistance, based not in religion or love of Saddam, but a deep nationalism which crosses ethnic and religious borders.

There is nothing for us to build. We build what the resistance allows us to build. So schools go up, but the pipeline stays broken. CPA headquarters gets shelled every night, while it is the middle of a city. The resistance can mortar a division headquarters without fear of discovery. Spanish intelligence officers are murdered and dismembered before a cheering crowd. Democracy is not the issue, survival is.

There is no nobility in our misguided attempt to remake Iraq. Only hubris and folly. We have precluded success and leave only degrees of failure. Our last hope is that Sistani allows us a peaceful transition and does not openly join the resistance. Because if that happens, escape from Iraq, like escape from Vietnam in 1975, will be the only available option.

posted by Steve @ 2:04:00 PM

2:04:00 PM

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