Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How To Win If The World Wants Us To Lose

Max Hastings raised one point in an otherwise dismissable Guardian column about the inevitability of defeat in Iraq that merits a good, hard look.

Hastings believes defeat in Iraq is inevitable because there is simply not enough time for Gen. David Petraeus' bright and talented leadership circle -- a brightness and talentedness Hastings enthusiastically endorses -- to achieve victory. There is not enough time before January 2009, when Bush leaves the White House, to defeat the enemy, equip the Iraqi security forces and rebuild the nation's infrastructure. Defeat, despite the recent positive turns of events, is the only conclusion Hastings can reach:
Yet [defeat] should never become cause for exultation, even among the bitterest foes of the Washington neocons. If defeat, chaos, regional war indeed come to pass, the Iraqi people and the security interests of the west will suffer a disaster for which the disgrace of George Bush and Tony Blair will represent wholly inadequate compensation.
What an odd and ugly thought. Of course it's true, just as certainly as Bush hatred is s the fire in the belly of everyone on that side, from Cindy Sheehan to Harry Reid. But we're just not used to seeing it written out so clearly.

So Hastings is clear; still, it does not make him right. The false assumptions underpinning his conclusion abound.

First, his belief that U.S./Coalition involvement in the war will end in January 2009 discounts the possible election of Giuliani, Thompson (Fred, not Tommy), McCain, Romney ... even Clinton, who has espoused a non-abandonment policy (for the moment, anyway).

Besides, ending U.S. involvement in the war won't end the war. I doubt that even al Qaeda would move on, since they have a major stake in the outcome and a hunger for a taproot into the jihad-funding oil of Iraq. Certainly, the government will try to survive, and enough Iraqis are invested in a different future for their country that the supposition that hard, fast and uncrossable Shi'a/Sunni/Kurd lines will form is simplistic.

Which brings up Hasting's second point, the equipping and training of Iraqi police and military forces. Hastings and his kin apparently envision an all-or-nothing approach in which the Iraqis must be as well equipped and well trained as Coalition forces, or they're nothing, utterly uncapable of anything.

He apparently has not heard of the educational attributes of having to fight to save your butt ... or in this case, your head. Funny that's escaped him, because the Left always says the Iraqis will never learn how to defend themselves as long as we're there. As much as I disagree with their argument as a rationale for abandoning Iraq, I can't disagree that the amount of training and equipment they have received will go a long way if they are left to their own defense.

So he's probably wrong on the end-date of the war and totally wrong on the prospects for a free-fighting Iraqi security force.

That brings us to why I'm even bothering to write about Hastings' column: His claim that Iraqis will not fight for anything as long as the infrastructure of the country is so hobbled and inadequate.
More than this, there is no chance of stabilising Iraq unless its people are provided with public services that work, and its economy is functioning in a fashion that gives most of its citizens a clear stake in peace. Almost four years after Baghdad fell, basic facilities such as electricity and sewerage, together with local security against crime and kidnapping, work less well than they did under Saddam.

This remains the catastrophic failure of the occupation, and the likeliest cause of its doom. A senior British officer to whom I spoke last week argues that Iraq needs a Marshall Plan, civil aid on a scale greater than anyone has yet attempted - or than the US Congress in its current mood is willing to endorse.
If you agree with Hasting's assessment of the infrastructure situation in Iraq, and there is some reason to do so, why is he leaving the task at the foot of the U.S. Congress? The rest of the world may not care to go out on a limb in defense of Iraq, but there is no reason for them not to support its rebuilding. Heck, they could even use rebuilding to bash Bush.

After the Southeast Asian tsunami, Kofi Anan climbed the highest mountaintop and shouted loudly, encouraging and shaming the nations of the world into providing relief. George H.W. and Bill globetrotted, collecting an unprecedented wealth of charitable contributions. Corporations shipped boatfulls of products to villagers who may never have seen Handy-Wipes and other such goodies before.

But this is Iraq, where the need is just as great and the benefits to world peace and security are incalculably greater. So where is Ban Ki-moon and all his bureacratic do-gooders? Where are the humanist Europeans, who benefitted so greatly from our largesse after World War II? And, for that matter, where are the Japanese and South Koreans? Where is Bono? Where is Kos?

The answers are simple: For Europe, the UN, the Left and Celebritydom, there is no desire to help the Iraqis because doing so might help Bush and Blair. They want the failure of those who stood up against the jihadists to be so complete that they want Iraq to fall into chaos, starvation and deep, crimson pools of blood. Nothing less will do.

And for those we have helped in the past, well, times change, priorities change. They're happy as can be we're protecting their oil so they can ship their products to our shores, and they would rather we not ask anything of them in return.

America, we are alone in a world that desperately needs us. That realization must influence our foreign policy going forward, causing us to choose our friends, enemies and the recipients of our security wisely. In the end, if this is the result of Iraq, we will have more allies among the underdeveloped Gap nations that need us (and spawn those who fight us), fewer money-grubbing friends among the wealthy, lazy ingrate nations, and a more reasonable shot at a secure future.

Hat-tip: Real Clear Politics

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