James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Stabbed in the Back?

In an outstanding article, Charles Featherstone writes:

Let's review very quickly why the Mesopotamian venture is failing. It is not because the soldiers and Marines in Iraq are poorly led, or have inferior equipment, or are badly trained, or even don't have the support of enough of the country. It isn't even because the political leaders are incompetent, though the incompetence of Bush Jong Il and his politburo got us there in the first place. The US military in Iraq is solidly led and reasonably well equipped. No, it is failing because the political objective those soldiers were sent to accomplish – the democratization of the Middle East, or the scaled-down desire to simply create a pro-American Iraq – is simply unachievable at any price we are willing or able to pay. And there simply is no amount of pain we can inflict upon the Iraqi nationalist and Islamist resistance at this point that will compel enough of them to accept defeat and put down their arms.
It doesn't matter how many of them we kill. It doesn't matter how many times we take, retake, and re-retake Najaf, Samara or Sadr City. It doesn't matter how many swell, well-planned and "successful" operations we conduct. It doesn't matter how many schools we repair or hospitals we build. It doesn't matter that we can go where we want, kill whomever we want, arrest whomever we want, and destroy whatever we feel like.
The next morning, when the rubble clears, there will be more Iraqis willing to threaten, assassinate, intimidate, plant bombs, organize, and kill our soldiers. Their start-up costs are insignificant compared to ours, and they self-organize. Drip drip drip.
(Had we stopped at toppling the Iraqi government in April 2003 and given everyone in Iraq 90 or 120 days to form a new government and hand over all the old Ba'athis so we could quickly leave, we'd of had a much better chance of something called "success" and earned a lot more good will, both in Iraq and out of it.)
The truth is fairly simple but hard to accept: we are not wise enough, nor good enough, nor strong enough, nor rich enough to save a people who neither want our help nor need it. (We barely have the wisdom, goodness, strength, and wealth to save ourselves, much less anyone else.)
But I suspect few Americans – Democrats

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