14 November 2007

Iraq War: Round #4

The Theist
How to Choose Peace in Iraq
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer

A war is an event in which two or more political entities duke it out, employing their military might, their economies, and most fundamentally, their unyielding wills against one another, until one of them gives. In the normal sense of the word, we are not at war in Iraq. Rather, we have won the war in Iraq. We quickly destroyed Saddam Hussein's tyrannical government and rendered its military forces non-existent. If you think there's a war in Iraq, just ask yourself what the chance is of us being beaten there, of our military actually suffering defeat on the battlefield. The answer, so long as our enemy is a rag-tag bunch of foreign-funded bomb-and-run-like-heck jihadis, is zero.

Of course, there is considerable violent resistance in Iraq, and it sure feels like a war to the brave men who must run the gauntlet of roadside bombs and patrol the dangerous neighborhoods of Baghdad. Getting killed or maimed is very bad, whether one is in a true "war" or not. But this violence is a last-ditch attempt by the losers of the real war to break our will to stay and, as they say in the military, mop them up. Amazingly, due to relentless media propaganda, they have a chance of succeeding at this. Images have an amazing power to produce emotion and to obscure the all-important context of these countless small-scale tragedies. Consequently, the will of the American people as whole has been broken, or nearly so, although the will of our administration and the military remains firm.

This get-out-of-Iraq-mania sweeping our culture is terribly short-sighted. The real question isn't "Should we end this war?" but rather, "Should we stop our military occupation of this conquered country before it has been stabilized?" The clear answer is no. We have a moral duty to the civilians of Iraq, to not abandon them in a hopeless chaos after literally wrecking their country. They are still learning how to self-police and how to avoid civil war.

Further, as many commentators have noted, President Bush's troop surge is working, and violence is sharply down in Iraq. People are starting to pay attention to these facts, although not all people. Many of us, as Joe Lieberman recently said about the Democratic congressional leadership, remain "emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, [and are] reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving." People, handing Bush a defeat isn't worth a disastrous premature withdrawal from Iraq. Just grit your teeth for another year, until Bush's successor takes office. If it makes you feel better, repeat the words "President Obama" until your blood pressure returns to normal.

Our goal is not to defeat Al Qaeda, but rather to demoralize the global America-hating and West-hating jihadi movement as a whole, by means of an unequivocal and complete defeat, mop-up included. The Objectivist continues to inhabit a fantasy-land, also inhabited by Democratic presidential candidates, in which the bad guys are attacking us simply because we trespassed on their soil, and if we just go away, they'll leave us alone. For us to hightail it out of Iraq is for jihadis everywhere to win. That is how they see it, and it doesn't matter if we don't see it that way, patting ourselves on the back as we run, while singing a round of "All we are saying, is give peace a chance." The consequences will be the same no matter how we choose to think about it.

If you think a hasty withdrawal would take the wind out of their sails, then you have a poor understanding of how they think. A likely outcome is that they'd turn their attention from Iraq towards us, and put more energy into a WMD attack on American soil, which if it occurred would have catastrophic consequences for our economy and culture. But suppose, as The Objectivist fantasizes, they would lose interest in us. The jihadi crowd, along with their enablers in Iran and Syria, would nonetheless turn their attention to the Israel-Palestine issue, their prime example of how the West is allegedly viciously persecuting Muslims. That fire has died down to some warm coals, due to the resolve of our ally Israel. It may not remain so, should gasoline be poured on it.

The Objectivist argues that winning isn't worth it in terms of federal spending. I'm sure you all have noticed how this war has impoverished you.... oh, wait -- it hasn't. True, this is increasing our national debt at an alarming rate, and this will have to be paid in one way or the other. But try paying it with a crippled economy resulting from a terrorist attack, or from a multi-sided mideast war in which we're drawn into heavily supporting or fighting alongside Israel.

In sum, it isn't solely up to us what our available options are -- our enemies have a lot to say about it. We would all, if we could, simply choose peace. But as it stands, we must choose (our best chance at) peace, by first choosing to make our win in Iraq permanent.


The Objectivist said...

Dear T and C:

Note that even our continued pressure against Al Qaeda won't eliminate them. Nor will it eliminate their ideological brethren such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Israeli wall has been an excellent illustration how withdrawal from occupation can diminish violence. This after they repeatedly failed to demoralize Palestinian terrorists.

The Objectivist said...

One other tangential feature is worth noting and that it whether the expected gain to Americans is worth $26,000 per dual-working couple.

This probably underestimates it, because while some of this money has already been spent, the war has helped to elected politicians, usually Democrats, who are notoriously generous with other people's money.

If we get the irresponsibile SCHIP bill or Charley Rangel's assault on capital gains, we have the war to thank.

The Constructivist said...

Both of you are missing the divisions and rivalries in the "jihadi" movement. Al Qaeda is largely a Sunni organization, while Iran and its clients are Shiite. Radicals on both sides of this theological divide are trying to take over nations where they have majorities they can intimidate or radicalize. More on the implications of this later--gotta run give a talk!

The Objectivist said...


I don't see how I'm missing the distinction. My claim is whether they are allied with Iran or with the Sunni block, we decrease our exposure by getting out of there.

In addition, Iraq will likely split apart sooner or later. We shouldn't try to hold off the inevitable.

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