Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Lincoln And Bush

I liked this passage from William J. Stuntz' article on the changing justifications of war, which appears in this month's issue of Citizen (reprinted from The New Republic):
What would have happened had the second Iraq war turned out like the first, as the White House apparently expected? Saddam would have been toppled, the Iraqi people would have celebrated, order would have been restored quickly, followed by a speedy exit for British and American troops.

Then what? Maybe the rule of Iran-style Shia mullahs, perhaps another brutal Sunni autocrat to take the place of the last one, possibly an endless civil war between the two. Today, there is a real chance of a vastly better result -- precisely because the insurgency survived, because it wasn't quickly defeated.

Sunni intransigence needed to be crushed slowly; a quick in-and-ut war was not enough to kill the dream of forever tyrannizing Iraqi Kurds and Shia. More important, thousands of senseless murders over the past 32 months have taught Iraqis -- Sunni, Shia, and Kurd alike -- just how vicious Zarqawi and his allies are. That lesson will have very useful consequences for the long-term health of the region.
Stuntz, a Harvard law prof, makes the painful point that short wars don't change things, but long wars do. As the Iraq war's objectives have changed from regime change and WMDs to democracy-planting and the war on terror, Stuntz fears that cut-and-run attitudes will cause us to lose these long-war benefits ... and, in the process, the purpose of 2,000+ combat deaths and the last, best hope for millions of Muslim men and women.

As he concludes, "Here's hoping we choose as wisely as Lincoln's generation did."

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