Iraq, Iran, and door number three

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  1. Of course we can fix it. Mr. Bush is just waiting for someone to hand him the magic wand with the phoenix feather in it so he can wave it over the World and use the Imperius Curse. Just until everything is under control, of course, and then he will give us our minds back. No, really.

  2. First Afgahnistan, then Iraq, now clearly Iran has our attention…I’m curious if in reality, we will always have someone over there that just doesn’t like us. Perhaps, no matter how many countries we work with or work over, there will always be one of the middle eastern nations that is a thorn in our side. Granted, nucular weapons are very serious. But after Iran is fixed, who’s next? Isn’t that a bigger question? Who will be the next country to be the focus of our terrorism concerns in the middle east?

  3. Pingback: The Moderate Voice
  4. The president has promised to “stay the course” and beyond this since we haven’t given the Iraqi army the capacity for logistics, intelligence or any other functions besides throwin small units of light infantry out; the possibility of leaving in the short term is nil.
    A year should give us a better idea, it may be impossible for us to stay, the ground forces are stressed, seriously stressed and the Republican politicians don’t believe in resupplying them because that’s the wrong kind of pork and Rumsfeld doesn’t like the army anyway.
    As for Iran it is years before it comes close to a weappon, yes there are lies that a few hundred centriguges are enough, but they’re not. And as with Social Security (which won’t start having to reduce payments or gather deficits much less than those of the medicare drug bill until the late thirties) when you look at longer time frames and other factors, then a measured thought out response makes sense. You can watch things and it may be that they develop well.
    Hezbullah remarked of the Israelis that they couldn’t wait, that they must always hurry. We now have the right rushing around saying it’s WWIII or WWIV and we must bomb Iran before the fall elections or the Democrats might win. But it isn’t a strategy based on national interests. A moderate may come into elected office again in Iran, the dissatisfacrtion may truly shift power and we may have a government that understands that you talk with enemies and not simply ignore them until it’s time to bomb.

  5. Julie, I agree with you that the Iranian fence is being rushed. Frankly, I’d like to see direct negotiations with Iran happening. It seems clear that the 5+1 group isn’t going to have a meeting of the minds. I also agree that there’s more time for dialogue on the nuclear subject than the war-drum pounders want to admit.
    OTOH, we haven’t got nearly the luxury of time regarding Iraq. As you pointed out, there are a number of stressors, but the biggest factor (to me) is the public’s recent (albeit belated) rejection of further hyperbole on the subject.

  6. Unfortunately I’ve come to the same conclusion as Polimom. I really like the rationality of Julie’s line of thought and would support it full heartedly in policy, but I think that it is far too nuanced for our politics. The problem is that we have absolutely no benchmark for success nor plan to achieve it (I liked a comment I read on the Confederate Yankee of all places: “When they stand up we stand down is a nursery rhyme, not a strategy”). The Shiite politicians in Iraq are directly connected to Iran, so even if we get the nation stable, it will just be a boon to them. I posted really long comments on a different blog about how I think we are in a situation where we cannot win this round (in much of the Middle East) and need to start taking Julie’s decades long view towards the problem by getting the West to focus on the whole world. Here is a link to the post if you are interested.

  7. Oh yeah just to clarify, it’s actually in the “Comments” section, not the actual post, I don’t have my own blog.

  8. That’s an excellent comment from Confederate Yankee’s blog. We are waging a war of cliches: “stay the course” “stand down when they stand up” … none of which are defining anything measurable.
    I had followed that thread at Liberty and Justice that you refer to, Mikkel, and you raised some good points, not least that the sectarian hatred (such as we’re seeing between the Shi’ites and Sunnis) is far deeper than our government — and most of the West — are understanding. (a prior related post here)
    It’s long been one of my real frustrations with how this war has been handled: it couldn’t have been more obvious that our administration didn’t understand the Pandora’s Box they were opening.
    Thanks much for the comment (and link) — interesting thoughts.

  9. Polimom, Mikkel,
    Maybe Mikkel should have his own blog. In the comments on the “Liberty and Justice” blog he raises a number of good points not being discussed anywhere else that I’ve seen. I’d like to focus on one point in particular. Mikkel said:

    We need to change tactics globally, and I think this is through embracing capitalist democracies. We need to support all relatively free, democratic regimes around the world regardless of whether it would hurt current economic/geopolitical interests.

    Lost in the “details” of a mess in Iraq, I believe that is the overall strategy, which is being pursued to achieve the goal of advancing the spread of what might be called ‘Western Capitalist Democratic” civilization. Clearly that goal can not easily be pursued within the confines of a four-year Presidential election cycle, and it is difficult to trumpet it as the goal without making it much more difficult to achieve. However, pursuing it by ‘stealth’ leads the public to the conclusion that there is no strategy at all. It’s a dilemma.
    Applying the strategy in the mideast (outside of Iraq) means pressuring our ‘allies’ e.g. Egypt, Saudi, to be more open and transparent. These corrupt despotisms are very likely to fall if they open up their political systems “too fast”, so how hard do we push? If their current governments fall and are replaced with Islamists, the US will not get any credit for helping bring about the change, and our ‘allies’ will have become our enemies. Yet, not to pressure them to open up is likely to result in their eventual overthrow by someone (Islamist or not) and that someone will have no love for the US for propping up the corrupt governments for so long.
    Far away from the mideast, this strategy has racked up a number of successes in the past couple of years in eastern Europe / the former Soviet Union. All those ‘color’ revolutions didn’t just happen by coincidence–they were encouraged and assisted by the US and the EU. Take the Ukraine for example. While things aren’t great in the Ukraine right now, they do have an elected government being forced to learn how to govern while working with the ‘loyal(?)’ opposition. It’s a clinic in the messy business of government in a democracy without a clear majority. It is precisely that ‘clinic’ that the Shiites need, and are not getting.
    Iraq is a mess, at least in part because it has a democratic form of government, but its politicians have no experience in the give and take of governing in a democracy. Fear and terror are the means Iraqi government has used to maintain its rule for a very long time, and they are what many minor players e.g. Muqtar al Sadr, are using to try and give themselves more weight than their votes entitle them to. As long as the government and the Iraqi people allow politicians to run death squads and private “courts” a stable democracy can not emerge.
    Our exit strategy is not under our control (except for the ‘cut and run’ option). We need to remain, with either the same number of troops, more, or less–I don’t know–until the Iraqis learn the necessary new skills. If that means backing off from Baghdad and letting them murder their own people, then I’m afraid that is what we must do. Ultimately, the Iraqi people must be the ones to say “enough!” and demand that their government get control of all factions. Doing that will require an army that can impose its will on the factions. Iraq does not yet have that, and progress towards it is painfully slow.
    As long as many Iraqis think that allowing the chaos to continue is a good idea because ‘their’ faction will come out with an improved position at the end of the chaos, then chaos is what they will have. Using US troops to clamp down and provide security is a bandaid that allows Iraqi politicians to continue their murderous games and the Iraqi people to hold the US responsible for all that is wrong.
    That is a losing strategy.

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