A View From The Handbasket

Friday, October 07, 2005
When wars collide
Posted by neros_fiddle at 2:25 PM
Here's an intriguing piece on the military's frustration with the partisan battles being fought in Washington.

The most trenchant observation is this:

"The debate about the war is finally happening, but it is two years too late," the U.S. official said.

"It's no bullshit on the ground here between us and the Iraqis. But back home it's still in f(ing) ideological political mode," he said. "We need to separate 'accountability' from 'success.'"

The tragedy here is that we're finally realizing we screwed up, long after there's much of anything we can do about it. We're there, we've totally dismantled the country, and it's our responsibility to put it back in order.

Although I was convinced the war was a mistake before it started, and I'm even more convinced of that now, I don't join with those who are demanding an immediate pullout. We simply have to expend whatever resources are necessary to put Iraq on a stable course. Unfortunately, the current gang in charge can't seem to make a correct decision if you gave them two options and pointed out the bad one.

(EDIT 10/9: Ron makes some compelling points for a pullout in the comments, and I tend to agree with what he's saying. Upon further reflection, I think what's needed is a plan for getting the destabilizing influence of the US out as a more independent authority takes on reconstruction. After all, reconstruction is the key to security, not bigger standing armies. [Of course, the spoils of reconstruction have many White House-friendly interests making lots of money, so this is problematic with the current regime.] So I somewhat retract my statement above -- an immediate pullout *could* be the/an answer if part of a larger plan for reconstruction.)

At root, the problem is this: the anti-war crowd will not let up until the architects of the war admit their failures. That's not going to happen, as Bush's ridiculously delusional speech yesterday proves -- to them, admitting that the war was a bad idea is equivalent to supporting the 9/11 terrorists. (Because, I hasten to point out, they were the ones who created that false equivalence in the first place.) As long as the two camps are at each others' throats over assigning blame, the very real problems on the ground get ignored, except as "evidence" for the veracity of one position or the other. There are two wars here -- the one between US forces and insurgents in Iraq, and one between pro- and anti-war partisans in the US.

Somehow, we have to decouple the notions of support for starting the war and support for finishing the war. They're not the same thing.

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