THE NEWS BLOG

 
Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Independent
Washington Post
Newsday
Iraq Order of Battle
Agonist
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News
CNN
Blogger

 
Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Atrios
Digby's Blog
Skippy
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Uggabugga
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Tbogg
Corrente
Gropinator
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Wonkette
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Driftglass
At-Largely
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

 
Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Close but no cigar


Portuguese troops in Guinea-Bissau. the mid
1960's

Josh Marshall posts the following

Let me have your attention for a moment.

There's a brutal, astonishing and final dispatch today from Lawrence Kaplan at the New Republic blog, The Plank. Let me reprint it in full ...

Even by the degraded standards of everyday life in Baghdad, this report from CNN's Nic Robertson comes as a shock:

One international official told me of reports among his staff that a 15-year-old girl had been beheaded and a dog's head sewn on her body in its place; and of a young child who had had his hands drilled and bolted together before being killed.

From its gruesome particulars, the report goes on to describe the fear that has gripped even the most hardened Iraqis during this latest round of sectarian bloodletting. Robertson's dispatch points to a revolting truth about the war in Iraq--one that American officers discovered long ago, but which has yet to penetrate fully the imaginations of theoreticians writing from a distant remove. The fact is, there is very little that we can do to dampen the sectarian rage and pathologies tearing Iraq apart at the seams. Did the Army make a mistake when it banished "counterinsurgency" from the lexicon of military affairs? Absolutely. Does it matter in Iraq? Probably not. How can you win over the heart and mind of someone who sews a dog's head on a girl? Would more U.S. troops alter Iraq's homicidal dynamic? Not really, given that, on the question of sectarian rage, America is now largely beside the point. True, U.S. troops can be--and have been--a vital buffer between Iraq's warring sects. But they cannot reprogram their coarsened and brittle cultures. Even if America had arrived in Iraq with a detailed post-war plan, twice the number of troops, and all the counterinsurgency expertise in the world, my guess is that we would have found ourselves in exactly the same spot. The Iraqis, after all, still would have had the final say.


The brutality described here is difficult to move past. But I want to try. As we walk around the carnage, it's worth noting too that there's a good measure of excuse-making Kaplan has bundled into this post. In those rhetorical questions toward the end, he is reviewing a series of debates which his side of the debate (the regime-change, Chalabi, transformation of the Middle East side) was now clearly on the wrong side of.

He raises them to dismiss them. Did we have a crappy post-war plan, Kaplan asks. Yes, he answers, but in the end it didn't matter one way or another.

My point here isn't to pile on. To a degree at least, on these points, he's clearly right.

What I want to focus on is the final, totalizing message -- one that's worth taking note of. You could summarize what Kaplan is saying as, Our guns and our money and ideas are no match for their history and their hate.

And that -- phrased different ways or from different perspectives -- was the conservative realist line of opposition to the whole enterprise -- the arguments Kaplan and his compatriots villified and slurred for literally years. Kaplan's one of the smartest and most candid of the neocons (not much of a compliment in itself, I grant you, but deserved in a fuller sense in his case). But here you have the final come-down. Not an admission of error here or there or in execution, but total -- that the whole idea and concept and program was upside-down-wrong in its essence.

Mark the moment -- that's the ghost given up.


Sorry Josh, he's calling the Iraqi animals unworthy of our help. The old colonialist's complaint, the savages will not accept our help.

I hate to tell Kaplan that, but that is about par for what we did in the Philippines in 1898-1903. Colonial war is savage. Even among the natives. Most colonial wars are real civil wars with a gloss of white skin leadership. And sewing a dog on a girl's head is grotesque, but so what what Jesse James did as a confederate raider. Shot children in the street.

The Iraqis are cruel, but war is cruel. Once you start a war, war is cruel. American Revolutionaries tarred and feathered Tories before stealing their homes. Kaplan is taking refuge in the oldest and worst arguement of colonialism. Of course if we had brought stability to Iraq, the resistance would have grown slowly. We made so many mistakes which led to this, it isn't just "it doesn't matter". It matters what we did and failed to do.

posted by Steve @ 1:16:00 AM

1:16:00 AM

The News Blog home page





 

Editorial Staff
RSS-XML Feeds

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
 
 
 
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans