WarSeptember 28, 2004Dangerous Dan 3 Comments »
First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?
Yes. Iraq was a festering pit led by a maniac who used his considerable finances to oppress his own people in the most tyrannical ways possible and who was allowing his country to be used for terrorist training. I'm also not yet convinced that there were/are no weapons of mass destruction. We know that he definitely had them at one point but we don't definitively know what happened to them. Just because we haven't yet found any doesn't mean that they were destroyed. We've found no evidence of that. Them being destroyed is the best case scenario. Slightly worse is that they're buried in the desert somewhere. If the Iraqis succeeded in hiding entire fighter jets in the sand, there's no reason they couldn't have done the same with weapon canisters. The worst case scenario is that the weapons were smuggled to other countries, e.g. Syria, or to terrorists.
Also, the Iraq situation was not going to get any better. After we sold out Iraqi rebels who revolted following Saddam's expulsion from Kuwait, there was no significant native resistance. After Saddam's inevitable death, there were two more sadists waiting to become tyrant #1 (there would have been no tyrant #2… the winning son would surely have killed the other). Had we normalized relations with Iraq, it would have rewarded Hussein and he would have engaged in his old activities, only more openly. Had we maintained the status quo, Iraqis would have continued to suffer under Saddam's boot, corruption would have continued unabated, and who knows what the future would have held.
And at least the U.S. finally acted on the many UN resolutions that had been passed over the years.
Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?
Sure the stats are bad. I, however, view them in a slightly different context. Most look at these things and think that they are purely the result of the U.S. invading Iraq and they are all complications from it. The better viewpoint is that Iraq is one big battleground (the battleground) on the overall war on terror. This war has been in the offing for several decades as terrorist attacks against Western targets became more serious and more frequent. 9-11 was merely the Pearl Harbor of the war when we were forced to sit up and take notice of the ominous events around us. As such, we first took out terrorist-central, Afghanistan. It was necessary, though, to keep pressing the war against our enemies. While there may, admittedly, have been better target countries than Iraq, it was still a prime target and the easiest to attack, politically speaking. Iraq has since become a bug zapper for terrorists. It's the place they've chosen to make their stand and the more that do, the more we can eliminate. And frankly, I'd much rather have them there than here.
Iraq is also the grand middle-east experiment. In a region dominated by a variety of corrupt dictatorial regimes, this is an opportunity to transform one country into an operative secular democracy. If it succeeds, and I'll grant that it's still hard to know if it will, then the accompanying freedom, justice, and economic improvement will be very enticing to people in surrounding countries. This could then result in civil unrest, possible revolt, and a greater liberalization of the region. This is, of course, the best outcome, so we're unlikely to see it exactly. But if we get elements of it, it will certainly be for the better.
The alternative is the experiment failing and Iraq sinking into a pit even deeper than the one under Hussein. If a democratic Iraqi government is unable to establish itself and assert itself, then the country will plunge into a civil war with theocrats like al-Sadr, terrorist groups, and Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran, all tearing the place apart. What will become of it then is difficult to speculate but it would absolutely not be in America's best interests. This will assuredly happen without a U.S. presence in the near to intermediate future. Pulling out is simply not an option.
So, yes, I don't like the stats listed; I don't like dead American soldiers. They are casualties of an overall noble war that was forced upon us and is one we don't have the option of not fighting. If we don't go to it, it will come to us.
Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?
I'd like to think dead or captured terrorists would be one nice indicator. Related to that, we need to be able to analyze how well this has helped us in the war on terror. After all, this is the battleground for that overall war. If the waging of this battle has not helped us in that war, then there's a problem. We also need to look at how successful the democracy is, how well the elections go, the confidence the citizenry has in the new government, and the economic improvements. Associated with these goals, we need to be able to secure commerce and transportation and Iraq needs a fair and efficient judiciary to protect individual rights and property rights. If these are all good, the country will improve. If they are bad, then we have a much longer road ahead of us.