James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Paleo Rule # 1

Francis Fukuyama, William F. Buckley ... who's next to jump the Iraq War ship? My guess is Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things magazine, which I used to read religiously but that made a monumental error when it justified/excused the Iraqi invasion. Maybe Neuhaus has already publicly admitted that the war was a mistake, but if he has I haven't heard about it.

Buckley says the war is lost. Justin Raimondo says that depends on who you're talking about:
The regionalization of the war, and the widening split in Islam, are successes so far as the War Party is concerned. "Creative destruction is our middle name," says neoconservative guru Michael Ledeen, and there is no better phrase for a civil war. For the Iraqis and U.S. policymakers – as well as the Republicans – the chaos in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster. For the neocons, however, it is a great victory. They have achieved half of exactly what they wanted, and now it remains for them to lure us into war with Iran and push their project to completion.

There were two distinct goals for Iraq. The idealist goal was to "liberate" and "democratize" Iraq. The second, imperialist goal was long-term American military domination of the Middle East. The idealist goal has failed, but the imperialist goal might still be reached.

As Buckley had supporterd the war apparently on account of the idealist goal, no wonder he's disappointed:
A problem for American policymakers -- for President Bush, ultimately -- is to cope with the postulates and decide how to proceed.

One of these postulates, from the beginning, was that the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom. The accompanying postulate was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymakers to cope with insurgents bent on violence.
It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.

Mike Tuggle, however, identifies the fundamental error that idealists like Buckley made in their support for the war:
The Iraqi Project, which envisioned a forcible invasion and exteme makeover into a secular Western democracy, violated paleo rule Number 1: Human beings are not abstractions to be endlessly manipulated. We are social beings, and as such, are largely shaped by our interactions with those close to us. The roots that make us what we are are deep, and are not easily manipulated. That's why understanding other people's history and culture is vital to dealing with them. Iraq was a British invention after WWI, and since it is an artificial conglomeration of peoples, can only be held together by force -- there's not only a lack of mutual consent, there's not even a shared culture on which to build such consent, which is vital to popular government.

If one of the purposes of the war was to impose liberty and democracy on the Iraqi people through force, it was clearly doomed from the start. That does not work and can not work on articial nations like Iraq. And, in contrast to Buckley, I do hope that "killer insurgents" blow up the "shrine of American idealism." It's a shrine that should never have been built. The sooner we admit defeat and pull out of Iraq, the less likely we will let the idealistic impulse lead us to waste tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in the future.

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