Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Conservative Hawk Issues Mea Culpa on Iraq

Jonathan Kay at Political Mavens ("Confessions of a Misguided Hawk") says what too few on the right will admit: The Iraq war is a failure. He gives three reasons for supporting the war (weapons of mass destruction, creating democracy in the middle east and ending the slaughter and suffering of Iraqis) and would have considered the accomplishment of any one of the three a confirmation that it was worth sending American troops into Iraq.
Amidst the carnage, millions of brave Iraqis have voted in national elections. But the forms and pageantry of democracy can’t disguise the fact that the tolerant, pluralistic government everyone wanted remains a pipe dream: While Iraq’s legislature serves as an arena for squabbling amongst the country’s three main groups, the real spoils are hashed out on the streets by their various militias. Far from setting off a freedom epidemic in the Middle East, Iraq’s tragedy has created Exhibit A for every Arab tyrant looking to justify his hold on power.
While Kay makes several good points, he doesn't touch on the influence of Islam in causing sectarian strife in Iraq. He also fails to castigate himself or other supporters of the war for failing to educate themselves about Islam. Is Islam incompatible with democracy? Do Western values of human rights and religious tolerance clash with the basic tenets of Islam? Had I known then what I know now of the all-encompassing and authoritarian nature of Middle Eastern Islam, I never would have held the slightest hope of the democracy experiment working.

Since the US allowed too many terror attacks to go unanswered throughout the previous decade starting with the first World Trade Center bombing, I also feel the war could have been a success if we smashed Iraq's military capability, thus reestablishing deterrence. And then we should have left. Instead, we wasted lives and treasure staying in Iraq and attempting to give the Arab Sunnis and Shiites the good government and infrastructure that they neither seems to want nor are willing to work for. And they sure as heck don't appreciate our efforts.

Rather than emerging from Iraq feared, with dictators cleansing their hands of any connection to terror, we hurt our deterrence by showing that insurgencies, world opinion and domestic opposition can discourage the Americans from advancing military goals and acting ruthlessly when necessary. Syria and Iran are emboldened not intimidated. Nations that can't defeat America on the conventional battlefield feel that they hold off the Americans through terror, diplomacy and the media.

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