Iraq, Bicycles And Choices
Yesterday, we wrote in From Green To Yellow: Is It Time To Reconsider Iraq,
When is it time to reconsider how we implement our foreign policy in Iraq? That question probably troubles more Americans than any other, as we face the mid term elections in November and the general election in 2008...
That said, it is clear that we need to revisit the plans of this administration’s implementation of policies that would free those under the boot of oppression...
Voting is one thing-actually building and maintaining the institutions that are the pillars of democratic societies, is quiet another. The Iraqis are sitting on the fence, waiting for the outcome of the war between the terrorists and Coalition forces. Therein lies the problem...
A reader, RunningRoach, left this comment, which we have republished in it's entirety:
As a daily passerby, I have a great deal of regard for your posts, and while I fully appreciate where you’re coming from in this one, I believe you may be giving short shrift to a “greater” overall strategy in which Iraq is but a small element. The democratization of Iraq is a vitally important aspect of what I perceive to be our “grand scheme” for the middle-east and the economic and social survival of the U.S. Removing Saddam and liberating the Iraqis from a sadistic and repressive regime was the right thing to do. Whether it was worth the price, that we haven’t fully paid yet, will be for future historians to debate. Iraq, however, for all the consumption of dialogue and discourse cannot be viewed independently of the much larger set of U.S. objectives now in play, region wide and world wide.
I guess what prompted this response was your comment:
“If democracy is of little value to the Iraqis, we need to leave. That will result in tragedy and great suffering, of course, but the blood of Americans and coalition forces cannot continue to be used to purchase democracy for Iraq.”
You may recall that I served my country in Vietnam. I also have two sons currently serving in the ME as USAF combat pilots, just like dad did in Nam. I communicate with them frequently, and their single source of disappointment and frustration originates from the “noise” coming out of the left and the MSM here at home and not from their leadership or comrades or the Iraqi “street” there. They have without a doubt concluded that the situation in Iraq is rapidly moving toward a state of equilibrium. The situation may continue to be an uneasy “state” but nonetheless a constantly dynamic and defining one. I get the same comments from other military friends with sons and daughters on the ground there. There is no doubt, as we have been told over and over again, that a peaceful and stable Iraq will be an evolutionary process. As you say it might even be a generational one. What the end point will look like is hard to define, however that does not mean that all is lost or that it’s not worth it. A stable ME means a stable US of A from many different standpoints.
Just what does democracy mean to the average Kurd, Sunni or Shea “tribal” Iraqi other than Saddam is not in power and that they got purple fingers voting for their tribal leaders. For one thing it means they’ve got guts. That’s a hell of a start.
There are so many people here that have taken strong and vocal positions on our involvement in Iraq. The MSM tells us that we are “weary” of this whole “war” thing. I’ll discount talking heads and politicians for a moment and ask just who is weary? What sacrifices have all these “weary” people made and what investments (children, relatives, spouses, friends) do they have that are actively involved and in harms way? Answer, very few. If you extrapolate the 140,000 military volunteers to include all of the relationships above it approximates less than one percent of our entire US population.
When you put this conflict in perspective with other contemporary wars you find the following;
!. WWII……….. about 500,000 casualties.
2. Korea…………about 37,000 casualties.
3. Vietnam………about 56,000 casualties.
4. Iraq……………about 3,000 casualties.
5. Afghanistan…. about 350 casualties.
Needless to say that every casualty is priceless, however Iraq is a fairly low level conflict with a relatively modest amount of casualties.
It blows my mind that approximately half of the American people refuse to accept that we are in the opening battles of World War III (or IV…take your pick.) or that we are ultimately fighting for our way of life and our very existence. It further astonishes me that most people I speak with have a great deal of difficulty even talking about this existential battle. For many it just doesn’t exist!
Siggy, many people become very upset with me when I share my opinion that this war is as much about world economies and resources (oil) as much as it is a war with Islamic radicals. We had no option but to put a big footprint in the ME to assure our future security and prosperity. Iraq, WMD’s or not, was the right place to start.
RunningRoach's (see his website here) arguments are not flawed, really. In fact, his rationale is unimpeachable. The question is whether or not they are applicable or germane to this particular argument.
We are not submitting that the goals of this administration are flawed. As we have noted, they are not. The real issue is whether or not the Iraqis are even capable of digesting democracy. When allied troops liberated the Nazi death camps in 1945, it became clear almost immediately that over feeding the wretched starving and emaciated inmates was a death sentence. After the horrors they had survived, it became clear they needed to be nursed back to health, slowly. Notwithstanding the instincts of every allied soldier to to give up all their own rations to alleviate the suffering if these walking skeletons, that would only have exacerbated the situation.
It is the same in Iraq. It has become clear that notwithstanding the feast that is democracy, the Iraqis might simply be unable to digest the richness. After decades of deprivation and oppression, it is quite clear- and understandable- that they are stil too timid and weak to stand up for themselves. That may change in decades or it may change in a few months- we do not know. No one does- and only a fool bets on a lame horse. Simply stated, the Iraqis are not yet ready for prime time.
Acknowledging that reality is in no way endorsing or even giving credibility to the left and anti war movements. Their agenda is very different, and in fact, a lot less credible or relevant.
In order to understand why it might be prudent for us to leave Iraq, it becomes imperative that we understand and distinguish ourselves from those who make the same demands, only for very different reasons.
In Recent Highlights Of The Moral And Intellectual Bankruptcy Of Today's Left, Dr Sanity notes
What we have witnessed over the 30- 45 years since the Left ascended to dominate political thought in the mid 20th century, is its rapid and unprecedented decline into wholesale intellectual and moral bankruptcy. The noble values and ideals they once claimed they stood for have been completely abandoned; and almost as if a surreal cosmic joke was being played on them, they have—without even noticing!-- embraced the exact opposite.
Classical Liberalism has given way to a clearly leftist agenda. Whereas classical liberalism was about helping people help themselves- and taking control and responsibility for their own lives, the replacement leftist ideologies and agendas have a very different intent. Dr Sanity goes on to say that the left
...consistently trounce on freedom of speech (except their own, of course); they consistently support dictators and thugs; they consistently denigrate any attempt to confront or deal with said dictators and thugs; they consistently are unable to see how their ideological positions are in direct conflict with fundamental human rights; human freedom; or even human dignity--even as they shrilly proclaim that their contradictory behavior supports such noble ideas.
The left has degenerated into a movement that has not only abandoned reality, they have jettisoned reason and critical thinking. They prefer to hold onto the dogmatic axioms of their secular religion; shout the mantras and slogans of that religion; and refuse to acknowledge the catastrophic consequences of their behavior in the real world.
...And, make no mistake, that is what it is all about now for these bleeding narcissists. They don't care about human freedom. They don't really care much about human rights or dignity. Their desire is very simple: they want to rule.
No wonder they can identify with and reflexively support--consistently--every dictator and tyrant in the world.
Her remarks are clear and insightful. They also establish the boundaries and the differences between the agendas of the left and the centrists and of the right. The left fears that if we stay in Iraq, another democracy will take hold- as they did in Eastern Europe. They want us to leave Iraq because the rejection of leftist ideologies in Eastern Europe was a huge embarrassment to them (the fact that those ideologies were rejected by people that actually had the pleasure to live under those ideologies, is apparently lost on the leftists). If Iraq were to reject the leftist ideologies and become a free nation, that would prove to be another huge embarrassment to the left. In fact, they would rather have hundreds of millions people remain under the boot of some of the most repressive tyrannies in the world, so that they might be spared the embarrassment of the inevitable- that democracy will take hold, sooner or later.
Understanding that we might have expected too much from the Iraqis after the Evil Saddam, and as a consequence, we must allow them to find their own way, is in no way endorsing the agenda of the left. In fact, Iraq has proved a great lesson for us- that the Arab world, underdysfunctional and evil leaders, may not be capable of sustaining a democracy right now. That is not to say that the Arabs are unworthy of democracy and freedom- just the opposite, really. As much as we want to nourish the starved and tortured souls of the Middle East with freedom and democracy, that does not mean they are capable of digesting the freedom, tolerance and openness of that are the foundation stones of democracy. Before democracy can take root, there needs to be an understanding that all peoples and all faiths are equal and deserving of equal protection. It is painfully evident that those realities are sorely lacking in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world.
There are other differences that distinguish between between leftist anti war agendas and and ideology and understanding the need to leave Iraq, so that country might 'mature' as they evolve into a society and culture that will embrace democracy.
The anti war ideology and agenda of the left are not really anti war- they are anti some wars. Those wars and violence perpetrated by leftist and totalitarian regimes are perfectly acceptable to the left. If they were not, the left would be all over the nations that are preventing aid reaching Darfur, for example. If the left were really against war and violence, they would demand protection for the victims of the genocide rained on the Darfurese by the government of Sudan.
To the left, war is also acceptable, understood and apologized for when waged against free nations by 'liberation movements,' more often than not dysfunctional killers who derive great pleasure in terrorizing populations into supporting them. That technique has been tried and proved throughout the Arab world as well. Violence is also an acceptable form of protest- except if exercised against a totalitarian regime. When the G-8 summit meetings were held in China, 'anarchists' were advised to stay away. They prefer violence in countries where they stand no chance of being summarily executed.
In fact, reason, logic and even science have been clearly abandoned by the left. In truth, it is no longer possible to refer to the left as anything but a religion. There are the requisite ingredients- faith, ideology and exclusivity. All those things are manifestly evident. No different than some religions, the left have proved to be intolerant, bigoted and hateful to others that do not share their beliefs. They have attempted to foist and impose their religion on others, without regard to the diversity and multiculturalism they claim to champion. They are like many dysfunctional regimes, claiming they do not discriminate against particular minorities or adherents of a particular faith, with a straight face (notwithstanding the incessant state controlled media broadcasts of hate and religious, bigoted frenzy) - and they become outraged when they are called on it.
The primary difference is that for now, the left maintains the illusion of civility and 'equal handedness' though in fact, that is eroding. The mainstream left does not or will not decry or distance themselves from the hate, racism and orchestrated deceit of their more vocal andextremist supporters. Examples of leftist anti Jewish and anti Christian sentiments abound. African-Americans that do not follow lock step wi th the leftist agendas are 'referred to as 'Uncle Toms,' or 'house niggers,' openly and unashamedly. The women's movement, a bastion of the left, is only 'pro choice' when that choice aligns with their own ideologies. Disagree, dissent or exercise your own choice, and you become a 'traitor.'
Learning a new skill always involves failure. The left want us to leave Iraq so that the Iraqis will fail at democracy and a free society.They will do everything they can to make sure that Iraqis never learn to ride a bike and experience the freedom that brings.
We may have to leave Iraq to allow the Iraqis to learn how to ride that bike. They will have to fall down, skin their knees or worse. No one takes pleasure in watching a child take to that bike for the first time and watch him or her fall down, over and over. We can do no more than offer encouragement.
On the other hand, that is how we all learned to ride a bike.
The issue of Iraq is clear. The left want us to leave, so as to remove choices for the Iraqis. The right may decide to leave Iraq so as to allow the Iraqis the opportunity to exercise their own choices.