Mission Sort Of Accomplished in Iraq
Published on: December 3, 2011
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  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    I agree with almost everything you’ve said, I too wish we had retained a few military bases both to protect the seed of American Culture we planted in Iraq, and because I believe we are eventually going to have to bomb the snot out of Iran. I hope our leaving will gain us some street cred as anti-imperialists and the seedling is now strong enough to survive without our protection. I too think the Hamiltonian and Wilsonian schools failed miserably in Iraq, and I’m not sure why, you would think they would have been all over the nation building with both the economic oil, and democratic rule of law.
    I don’t however agree with you that we went into Iraq because of the WMD, this is what we told the UN because that’s what they wanted to hear. But, we went into Iraq because we needed to fight the Islamo Fascist Terrorists, killing as many as possible to reduce the threat, as well as damaging the culture they were breeding in. We couldn’t do that in Afghanistan it was too far away from the Cultural Center, both in accessibility for the Terrorists to show up so we could kill them, and as ground to plant our Seed of American Culture. Iraqis are better educated and were once considered the most cosmopolitan people in the Middle East; they were much more likely to be able to sustain some attributes of the superior American Culture. That was the Strategy, uplift them by forcing them to adapt to a superior culture, and drain the swamp the Terrorists were spawning in at the same time. It has worked brilliantly, as there are massive changes underway in the Middle East and North Africa. The Islamo Fascists will now have to fight for legitimacy in the eyes of the voters, who are going to expect performance as good as that in Iraq. LOL
    It’s being gobbled up by the superior American Culture that is the greatest fear of every other nation on earth. (I’m paraphrasing, but I read it in some book, I think it was called “Special Providence”)

  • stephen b

    Having been part of OIF during those first few months following March 2003, I can honestly say I cringed following GWB’s depiction under that banner, but at same time I fully understood what it actually meant. Those people on that carrier were going home after their mission was, in fact, well and truly accomplished. The banner was for them, not GWOT (does anybody remember that?). Of course our media relished the opportunity to play it against GWB and used it as one more stick with which to beat him.

  • joe

    “Getting us out of the war successfully does not minimize President Bush’s responsibility for leading the country into a war based on claims about weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be wrong — and for botching the occupation as thoroughly and for as long as he did.”

    Professor Mead, you are aware that these people are writing under your name…

  • “Iraqi professors and exchange students should be all over the United States. Iraqi journalists and bloggers should be attending workshops and training sessions here. We should be much more involved in resettling Iraqi refugees. American businesses and chambers of commerce should be hosting Iraqis in training sessions and developing more business links. We should be doing much more to help Iraqis, especially those who aren’t rich, to learn English — the language of business and politics all over the world. Security conditions may not yet permit many Americans to travel and work in Iraq, but Iraqis can come here; public funds and private philanthropy need to do more. On the diplomatic front we should be working to increase European openness to Iraq as well; helping Iraqi intellectuals, artists, scholars and civil society participants share experiences with people from all parts of the world.”

    The problem with these proposals is that, as we try to implement them, we risk giving the occupied country a real, fighting chance not only at survival, but at success. Not a bad thing in itself, of course. But the well-being of any single nation is hardly on a par with the Aggregate Welfare of the Entire Globe. So why worry ourselves overmuch about the fate of any single nation? Just think of the wonderful sifting process that takes place when local conditions deteriorate, or even become mildly unsatisfactory to the People Who Count; why, think what an inducement even chaos can be to talented, educated, enterprising locals prepared to uproot and better themselves no matter what the cost (“I’m DONE with you slackers and idlers – by God, I’m going to MAKE something of myself!”). And partic. those eager to roam the globe and join together with likeminded self-improvers, irrespective of national origins. Think of the extraordinary pooling of talent that can result, and of how the globe is, well, almost sure to gain proportionately in Aggregate Benefit over time.

    Alright, so maybe that’s not QUITE the way things typically fall out when countries disintegrate. But you must admit they’re some splendid rationalizations.

    The point, of course, is that none of these cross-cultural efforts have happened to any appreciable degree between us and Iraq. And in large measure (as you’ve broadly suggested) it’s because those Americans most competent and qualified to make them happen mostly threw up their hands. A lot of our civilianly Best and Brightest either disapproved of the invasion ideologically from the start, or very conveniently came to disbelieve in it. And what’s the relief of human suffering compared to the opportunity to say “I told you so?” (So much, I guess, for the cross-cultural pooling of talent.)

    Not that that should surprise anyone. As usual, in this strangely inhuman age, the key to securing advantage in any political dispute is to act like it will never seriously affect the fates or fortunes of real people. Your aim, in other words, is to bolster your own intellectual position by any legal means fair or foul, while doing everything you can to ensure the most excruciating loss of face to your ideological opponent. And that quite regardless of the human consequences of either position.

    Granted, divisions like these, carried “too far,” can make an absurdly divided spectacle of your country as a whole on the international stage. But what difference should that make to anyone? Countries are pretty much antiquated social conventions anyway. And all the more so if they don’t happen to have high-sounding names like the United States or the People’s Republic. What we’ve discovered really count in this Globally Enlightened Age are two things: (1) Individuals, along with the herculean efforts by which they lift themselves up from nothing, and so rise above their histories, nations, genders, and other social limitations; (2) the organizations they create, by which they extend those same productive or ameliorative efforts indefinitely through time and space. The wonderful thing, too, about these organizational efforts is their similar freedom from geography or history: their liberty to roam, range, plant themselves and pull up stakes at will anywhere, without being tied down by or obligated to (as most countries are) the needs of a bunch of hapless, beleaguered, uneducated people whose problems none of us created anyway. (And even if we did EXACERBATE them a little – hey, everyone can use a missing-cheese search once in a while, right?)

    Above all, better to let an entire country’s security, infrastructure and civil life rot, better to let its people of every age and class suffer and die needlessly, than to take the risk that your own remedial efforts will be successful – and so place the original, “criminal” action in a better light than it deserves. I mean, right is right and wrong is wrong. Better to see the rightness of your position vindicated by circumstances, than to try to alter those circumstances in ways that give real people a chance at victory over real problems and dangers. Problems which ALL of them face, and from whose relief ALL of them benefit (in which case, where does the global sifting come in? the separation of improvers from slackers?)

    Brilliant. What an Age.

  • Mike Balint

    Gimme a break, Professor Mead!

    A few more victories like Iraq and we are all well and truly done for.

    Personally, I think that the entire Iraq adventure has been an unmitigated disaster – self-made, thus entirely unnecessary, to boot – for America and the free world, and Afghanistan is shaping up to be an even worse catastrophe.

    As a Hungarian-Australian Jew, I love and admire America and the idea of America dearly, but I find your post-Soviet foreign policy over the past two decades to have been irredeemably dumb, regardless of which political side ruled the roost in Washington.

    And sadly, the internal policies of the Federal Government are just as lunatic.

    It is as though the White House, Congress, the Beltway, Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon are in the helpless grip of obsessive-compulsive zombies.

    One can only weep for the America that could have been, and could perhaps yet be, but for the zombies of Washington.

  • Charles R. Williams

    The war was necessary not because Iraq had WMD and not because of ties to the “war on terror”. Iraq violated the terms of the cease fire that ended the Gulf War and was led by a dictator who would certainly have rebuilt a WMD capacity as soon as he could and would have used it to further his regional ambitions. The sanctions program was rapidly unraveling and was undermined even by the UN.

    Bush’s mistakes were to simplify the rationale for the war and once it was over to turn it into an exercise in nation-building. We should have left quickly with as much of the existing power structure intact, insisting only on good regional behavior.

    First, Bush and the Obama made the same mistake in Afghanistan. Obama, however, has doubled our stake and ensured the failure of the mission at the same time. At least in Iraq the final results are ambiguous.

    In both cases the mistake was not going in, it was staying in too long.

  • Anthony

    “The end of America’s large scale military presence does not signal the end of American responsibility.” Concise summary WRM; yet we must have a clear-eyed assessment of national interests as SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement)regarding military pull out nears (Dec 31, 2011). Future training and advisory roles (via State Department) as you intimate make sense as well as assessing our strategic Iranian interest post departure.

  • And to think Chavez is a nut case

    You are joking, right? Despite $1-$3 trillion dollars, 4,000 soldiers, and 60,000 – 100,000 civilians dead, you really believe that this is some sort of accomplishment?

    What naive simpleton truly believes the Iragi government won’t return to the status quo ante, and devolve into a dictatorship in a few years’ time?

    Perhaps Jacobins like you should read some Burke before going on to your next internationalist Robespierre adventure.

  • I thought this analysis was a bit shallow at times. You seem to accept at face value the democrat and media driven narrative about the reasons for the start of the war and at the same time criticize this narrative as political opportunism. The mission complete nonsense is another example of the shallowness of your analysis. Without doubt the Bush Administration made mistakes during the war. The Bush Administration also had significant successes. It is easy to criticize decisions taken in the heat of battle, especially when the critics lack detailed knowledge of conditions on the ground. In fact, the less knowledge a critic has, the easier it is to criticize and the more cynical his criticisms become. This is also true when the battle is over and all facts and outcomes are known.

    I believe it is a mistake to withdraw from Iraq. Iraq is at the heart of the Arab world and close to breeding grounds of Islamic extremism. Iraq is a perfect staging area for rapid deployment strike elements that project American power when necessary. American ground assets lend credibility to American political recommendations about how to resolve regional conflicts. Iraq is a perfect location for intelligence assets to keep track of developments in Iran and other trouble spots. Finally, America should be forward deployed in significant strength in this region. We should continue the Bush Administration policy of taking the fight to the enemy on his own ground, using the hardened tip of the American fighting machine to attract and fight Islamic Extremists, and using local forces to fight alongside our troops in a unified cause against extremism.

    Doug Santo
    Pasadena, CA

  • Victor Erimita

    Mike Balint, you can say you opposed the war on principle. Or for practical reasons. You can say that whatever successes have been achieved there were not worth the various kinds of prices paid. But saying it is an unmitigated disaster is either dishonest, ignorant, or hyperbole.

  • R.C.

    I wish you’d edit your piece to make note of the fact that the banner was INCORRECTLY associated with the President.

    PRESUMED AUTHORS: The Bush Administration, at the time of preparing the president’s speech.

    ACTUAL AUTHORS: The chiefs in the carrier group in charge of morale, as the end of tour celebrations were being planned.

    PRESUMED MEANING: G.W.Bush was saying the Iraq War was over.

    ACTUAL MEANING: It meant that the carrier and her crew had just completed the longest-ever tour of duty, and that they had performed well in it.

    The Bush folks not only didn’t put up the banner; they were unaware of the banner being put up until they were setting up for the speech.

    In the speech President Bush specifically commended the sailors for their fine work on that very long tour, and that they’d accomplished their mission…suggesting he was aware of the banner and what it was intended to mean and didn’t think of it as meaning anything else. In the speech he even stated: “The war on terror is not over, yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide.”

    (Okay, he was arguably too early suggest it was “the turning of the tide.” But the guy states it isn’t over; how then could the banner, which his people didn’t even put up or intend to refer to the GWOT in general, be taken as a statement that he believed the GWOT was “over?”)

    There’s plenty to hammer G.W. over: The presecription drug benefit, the financial crisis’ first bail-out, and various errors in prosecuting the GWOT (including, for some, the decision to prosecute it as anything other than a law-enforcement action).

    Fine, hammer they guy over those things.

    But the “Mission Accomplished” thing is just another Democratic Party talking-point which has passed into the lexicon despite being 100% wrong. It’s probably too late at this point, but why don’t we try to AVOID reinforcing the error in the public mind?

  • Agoraphobic Plumber

    I would echo Charles’ words above, except for the quibble that I would say we should have got out not when the war was “done”, but after we had seen to the proper disposition of Hussein (said disposition being 6 feet below ground level).

    Ditto for Afghanistan. As soon as their Loya Jirga that selected Karzai was done, we should have pulled our special forces out, MAYBE left a small and well-defended air base if the Afghans were agreeable, and got out with the idea that 10 years of no trouble with Afghanistan and we would pull the air base too.

    Most of the rest of the world has nothing to fear from America. Heck, nobody needs to fear an ANGRY America, which is why many think of us as a paper tiger…and in some respects we are. We’re pretty slow to attack as nations go, given the constant provocations by tin pot dictators and so forth.

    What the world needs to fear is when we get scared. After 9/11, we had no idea who besides the 9/11 hijackers might have nastiness ready to unleash on us, particularly after the Anthrax scare. It was a foregone conclusion when the Taliban wouldn’t give up Al Qaeda that we would be taking them out, not out of anger but out of fear.

    Same thing for Iraq. Given how even the flimsy sanctions that had been undermined by France, Russia, et al were fading away to nothing, it was only a matter of time before there was another Osirak. Even then Iraq may not have been attacked except for their geostrategic positioning and the fact that they had so thoroughly violated the terms of the 1991 cease-fire that we had to take them out for anybody to ever take us seriously again.

    Yeah, the results were a mixed bag. But there’s one less obnoxious dictator in the world, Iraqis will soon be 100% free of the “imperialist” US and able to chart their own course for good or ill, America has been established as a nation that it is unhealthy to scare, and it’s almost all in the past now.

    Next up: complete and total economic and perhaps societal breakdown. This strikes me as a greater challenge to America than any faced since probably the Civil, if not Revolutionary War.

  • Agoraphobic Plumber

    “What naive simpleton truly believes the Iragi government won’t return to the status quo ante, and devolve into a dictatorship in a few years’ time?”

    What naive simpleton truly believes that he can decisively foresee the future? The British believed that the American colonies would fall apart of their own weight and come crawling back to the crown. Many declared the Iraq war lost in the first few weeks and predicted that our soldiers would be slaughtered by the tens of thousands…same in Afghanistan.

    In my mind, if a dictator DOES arise in Iraq, he/she will at least be more circumspect about entangling themselves in a fight with the US.

    Oh…and all those dead civilians. Who do you suppose killed the lion’s share of them? Hint: it wasn’t our guys. Oh, I’m sure a few rogues did some damage in that regard. But in a country alive with idiotic religious fanatics blowing themselves up in markets and military/police recruiting centers, it isn’t hard to figure out whose fault those deaths were.

  • I could not agree more with this post. I have been traveling to Afghanistan working with academics there and have constantly been struck by how little contact university students there have had with Americans.

    I think there is also a certain sense in which some of those who were opposed to the Iraq war and even, to a certain extent, to the Afghanistan war, have wanted the enterprise to fail. I constantly hear Afghanistan’s attempts to modernize dismissed with almost shocking contempt. It is as if they want to convince themselves that the enterprise is hopeless and so have an excuse to give up and leave.

    I think back to Alwali’s (I hope I am close on the spelling) first visit to speak to the Congress. I recall that he was really treated rather coldly, rather shabbily. Here was a democratically elected leader in an Arab country–something not seen in generations–fighting for his life against a monstrous terrorist movement and instead of being treated like a hero he was shuffled around like an embarrassment. The politic tribe that was out of power was not going to do anything that might show some enthusiasm for the other tribe’s political project. We have documented how the the tribal conflicts among the Iraqis and Afghans undermine their governments; we should perhaps pay a little more attention to how our own tribalism undermines ours.

  • Georgiaboy61

    Mike Bilant, re: “A few more victories like Iraq and we are all well and truly done for.

    Personally, I think that the entire Iraq adventure has been an unmitigated disaster – self-made, thus entirely unnecessary, to boot – for America and the free world, and Afghanistan is shaping up to be an even worse catastrophe.

    As a Hungarian-Australian Jew, I love and admire America and the idea of America dearly, but I find your post-Soviet foreign policy over the past two decades to have been irredeemably dumb, regardless of which political side ruled the roost in Washington.”

    Very well-said, Mike. Our foreign policy since the end of the Cold War is best described as neo-Wilsonian, aka a form of internationalist utopianism that posits with enough effort on our part, the world would be made “safe for democracy.” This worldview is not only ignorant of history, it is dangerously naive and prone to backlash or “blowback.”

    Equally or perhaps more important than these criticisms, is the fact that our foreign policy since 1990 violates both the spirit and the letter of our constitution. The founders warned us about the dangers of going abroad in search of monsters to slay, and that we could keep our free republic or engage in the games of empire, but not both.

    Can it be a coincidence that as our propensity to wage war abroad has incresed, we become less and less free at home? I think not, because in a state on permanent war footing, almost any abuse against our freedoms by govt. can be rationalized in the name of “security” or “safety.”

    As for Iraq, Bush had justification under the terms of the 1991 Gulf War peace agreement to intervene in Iraq, as he did with the invasion of 2003. His mistake was to keep our forces there as occupiers and nation-builders. This business of Colin Powell’s, “You break it, you own it,” is nonsense to the core. A large scale punitive raid in-force should have been our weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Iraq, aka kick butt and take names, and then leave, with promises not to be so mercyful the next time.

    Longterm occupation and nation-building serves our enemy’s interests, not ours, for it drains our treasury, spills the blood of our soldiers, imposes tremendous strain on our armed forces, and spends precious moral and political capital.

    Our best strategy vis-avis the Islamic world is to quarantine it to the degree possible, and when we are forced to interact with it, do so on the basis of vigilance and skepticism. We could also do worse than end immigration from Muslim countrys and place a moratorium on Musims entering the U.S.

  • There are a few items that critics of Mr. Bush need to keep in mind:

    1> Expansionist tyrants historically have not shown any desire to stop expanding on their own … they have had to be confronted with either the exhaustion of their resources, or opposing force. Saddam & Sons had a history of both being expansionist, and allying themselves with other expansionists … and they were turning Iraq into a higher-tech/cash-flush Afghanistan 2.0 with respect to support for terrorism.

    2> Conversely, nations that replace tyranny with rights-respecting governance (not just mere democracy) have historically ceased to be a problem with respect to supporting totalitarian expansionism, including terrorism. That form of governance is the key to sustainable peace, in and between nations … for when people are free to pursue happiness, they aren’t pushed to join a tyrant’s army or don a suicide belt.

    3> Tyranny is inherently illegitimate and therefore unworthy of respect for its sovereignty, if we believe those self-evident truths that are the basis for the founding of our own nation. In my lifetime, free people have made the greater error of persistently treating dictator and democrat with the same deference, instead of confronting the dictator when their tyranny first became evident. We are more worried about ourselves being perceived as “imperialist”, than about the imperialists themselves … and as a result, let tyrants stand far longer than necessary.

    4> In this day and age of a highly-interconnected global civilization, when a few dozen men with a few $100K could take the same number of lives that it took six aircraft carriers at Pearl Harbor to take, we no longer have the luxury of waiting for the storm clouds of war to appear on the horizon … much less wait until they bring the war to our soil.

    5> Consider that the much-discussed “blowback” can also result from our INACTION — a perception that we let tyrants stand and people suffer for our own purposes.

    Now, let me describe the error Mr. Bush made.

    The error he made was a variation of the same error free people have made again and again … we started to look for the exits as soon as Saddam’s statue in Frodos Square fell, instead of instituting the clear/hold/build strategy that started in al-Anbar and was applied nationwide during the Surge from the get-go — and making it clear that those who opposed rights-respecting governance would not be allowed to prevail.

    While Mr. Bush resisted the temptation to simply pull out early-on, there was always one eye of his Administration (sometimes more) looking for a quick out, in order to avoid the “imperialist”/”war for oil” labels.

    That led us to prematurely minimize our footprint in Iraq, allowing the insurgency and their al Quada allies to make inroads that gummed up the works and stretched out the conflict, that could have been avoided by presenting early-on the more resolute response we eventually presented.

    Just like with WMD stockpiles, though, Mr. Bush was in good company in his error … for placing a higher premium on preserving a “humble” America that does not deign to declare “WE ARE RIGHT – YOU ARE WRONG!” than on decisively interdicting tyranny was embedded in the conventional wisdom of the 20th century, from which both his allies and his critics operated.

    Ironically, it is that conventional wisdom that allowed tyranny to stand and fester, until it could no longer be ignored.

    One example of this stands out above all: Had GHW Bush ignored the diplomats and taken out Saddam in 1991, then exhibited the same resolve as his predecessor that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain when it came to establishing rights-respecting governance in Iraq, there would have been no Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    It is the refusal to confront tyranny, and support its replacement with rights-respecting governance, that has led to “war without end” … OTOH, in our time, the real peace song has sounded less like “Kumbiyah”, and more like “Yippie-Ky-Ay-A.”

    Without freedom … and the respect for, and protection of, it by those who govern … peace is just an illusion.

  • Joseph Somsel

    The major mistake of the Bush Administration was in underestimating the perfidy of the leadership of the Democratic Party and the liberal institutions of our country.

    The “enemy within” has been far more damaging to our welfare than the ones we faced in Iraq. I understand jostling for partisan advantage and that politics isn’t beanbag, but too many senators, congressmen, news editors and academians put victory over Bush above the need for victory.

    The Administration made errors in this war – all wars are riddled with errors. But it expanded from an initial goal of replacing Saddam and the Baath Party due to the deliberate involvement of al Quadi, particularly a foreign element. The Administration probably saw this as a possibility, even war goal, but it did take too long and cost us more than expected.

    Your proposal to increase engagement with Iraqis is well-meant but socially unlikely. As Mr. Yankovic notes, aiding Iraq and the Iraqi people is decidedly “uncool” as would be any assistance to support the war or the Bush Administration. In addition, ordinary Americans want less contact with Muslims and Middle Easterners, seeing them as socially, culturally, and politically virulent carriers of disorder and conflict. Quarantine is the hope of Left, Right, and Center, other than those hate-America-firsters.

    History will judge the Bush Administration very favorably but Obama and subsequent Administrations have yet to decide the ultimate success or failure of the Iraq War.

  • “We are more worried about ourselves being perceived as ‘imperialist,’ than about the imperialists themselves … and as a result, let tyrants stand far longer than necessary.”

    Dead-on. Reminds me of the great handwringing humanitarians of ’20s and ’30s Britain. Men and women of often extraordinary bravery, who risked lives, health, reputations – and I do mean that literally – in the war against poverty and oppression, provided the enemy was domestic and not foreign. The sort of righteous, progressive isolationists – found, I think, mainly on the Left in Britain (though more or less evenly on both Left and Right in the US) – who in effect crusaded against any and every form of bullying so long as it was Tory, all sorts of imperialism so long as they were British, dictators of every kind so long as they were monarchs, tyranny and oppression in every guise so long as it was Russian or Roman Catholic. This did, of course, make for a bit of a blind spot where the Germans and Japanese were concerned (such progressive, dynamic peoples, despite whatever temporary – and thoroughly understandable – political aberrations they might be going through at present). Then again, if tyranny was almost by definition the rearguard defense of an old, retrograde, dying order, in what sense were either Hitler or Stalin tyrants? So meanwhile these good-hearted folks spent the better part of their fury railing against the complacency of George V and the timidity of Stanley Baldwin. Straining gnats and swallowing camels.

    Who are our camels today, I wonder? And how do we strain them?

  • Bush and Cheney did not fully grasp what they were getting into when they invaded, underestimating the risks and overestimating the speed at which a reasonably stable Iraqi government could emerge.

    What Bush actually said:

    “A campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained commitment. “

  • “You are joking, right? Despite $1-$3 trillion dollars, 4,000 soldiers, and 60,000 – 100,000 civilians dead, you really believe that this is some sort of accomplishment?”

    All of the above accomplished a great deal. The fact is that the entire Middle East is becoming democratic. None of that would have happened absent the Iraq war.

    Contrary to the short-sighted view of those steeped in Bush-hatred, the fact is that Bush, for the relatively small price you mention, accelerated the movement toward democracy dramatically, probably saving lives in the long run.

    As for the worry that these “democracies” will be more Islamic, yes, thatvwas a necessary step in their evolution, and there is/was no avoiding going through the process.

    Libya, Egypt, and other states in the “democratic” revolution, all flow from Bush “democratizing” Iraq. Assad and Iran are on the ropes, and may fall during the reign of Obama.

    Looked at expansively, and not in the narrow view of the war-is-always- bad faux “realists”, Bush saved decades of strife and thousands of lives by his actions.

  • Gary

    “Libya, Egypt, and other states in the “democratic” revolution, all flow from Bush “democratizing” Iraq. Assad and Iran are on the ropes, and may fall during the reign of Obama.” — Bruno

    Quite possibly true; however somehow I doubt another Bush-like administration would have been so cooperative and encouraging (if at all) to the forces opposing Mubarak and Gaddafi. I’m hardly a fan of the Obama admin., but could it be that it has been a necessary part of the chain in the democratization of the Middle East?

    “Looked at expansively, and not in the narrow view of the war-is-always- bad faux “realists”, Bush saved decades of strife and thousands of lives by his actions.”

    This makes for some major cognitive dissonance among the Bush hating crowd. Could even trigger seizures and incoherent babbling!

  • “As for the worry that these “democracies” will be more Islamic, yes, thatvwas a necessary step in their evolution, and there is/was no avoiding going through the process.”

    I respectfully disagree that it is necessary.

    The problem is that we in the West have persistently presenting “democracy” as starting and ending with The Vote, declaring such “democracy” sufficient to assure freedom and peace … then treat all outcomes of The Vote as morally equivalent.

    This definition of democracy is not sufficient to assure freedom and peace … for without the checks and balances of rights-respecting governance that protect both the integrity of the electoral process, and the unalienable rights of the individual from even the majority, mere democracy is susceptible to being hijacked by tyrants who exploit the voters by encouraging mob rule and/or leading them to approve a return to authoritarian rule in a “one man, one vote, one time — the LAST time” election.

    We have limited the definition of “democracy”, again, because promoting those self-evident truths our own nation was established to uphold and protect is seen by some allegedly “enlightened” people as an expression of arrogance and/or imperialism.

    We are so afraid of telling someone that they are wrong, that we stand by as they destroy lives and threaten the peace, and pat ourselves on the back for being so “understanding” and respectful of their “right to self-determination”.

    We got away with that for a long time … but in today’s highly-interconnected global civilization, the dysfunctions that are allowed to fester in the name of “understanding” can spread like the flu through a first-grade classroom, and end up causing serious harm to not only our economic prosperity, but to the sustainability of peace itself.

    Basically, we need to take the attitude that, if you want to interact with the rest of us, you need to get and keep your own house in order … and nothing less than rights-respecting governance, not just democracy, can assure that.

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