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Taking Stock

On Memorial Day weekend, Victor Davis Hanson recounts our many policy mistakes in Iraq. Over the past decades. (Hint: removing Saddam wasn't one of them, and few of them were committed by the current administration.)

There are few Ernie Pyles in Iraq to record the heroism of our soldiers; no John Fords to film their valor but legions to write ad nauseam of Abu Ghraib, and to make up stories of flushed Korans and Americans terrorizing Iraqi women and children.

Yet here we are with an elected government in place, an Iraqi security force growing, and an autocratic Middle East dealing with the aftershocks of the democratic concussion unleashed by American soldiers in Iraq.

Reading about Gettysburg, Okinawa, Choisun, Hue, and Mogadishu is often to wonder how such soldiers did what they did. Yet never has America asked its youth to fight under such a cultural, political, and tactical paradox as in Iraq, as bizarre a mission as it is lethal. And never has the American military especially the U.S. Army and Marines in this, the supposedly most cynical and affluent age of our nation, performed so well.

Posted by Rand Simberg at May 27, 2006 07:58 AM
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Anyone ignorant enough to fall for Hanson's murky pronouncements on the "elected government", "growing security forces", and "democratic concussion" supposedly occurring right now in Iraq is advised to read last night's account by someone who's actually spent the last two years in Iraq: .

Not that any of this is surprising. Iraq, from its very start, was a Frankenstein's monster of a country stitched together out of three religious-ethnic groups who hated each others' guts by Britain and France while they were carving up the Ottoman Empire like a wedding cake. It's hardly a shock that the only thing in the 87 years since that has been able to keep those groups even temporarily away from each others' throats is a central tyranny -- which the former head of Mossad is now talking about as a necessity in this case, too. Certainly the only way US forces could prevent it from happening is if they were several times larger in number -- which would require a draft, and which would take so long to train that even a draft probably couldn't deliver them to the scene in time to save the day.

Time for us to move our troops on to more important endeavors -- starting with the need to halt a REAL imminennt nuclear-proliferation threat in Iran (as opposed to the supposed Iraqi one deliberately trumped up by Cheney's Office of Special Plans), and to deal with any crises produced by the fact that North Korea and Pakistan already have the Bomb.

Posted by Bruce Moomaw at May 28, 2006 03:02 PM

I believe Iraq has always been caught up in a civil war since its inception. For all we know this sectarian in-fighting has always occured and now has come to light. There were still many areas of Iraq, take Fallujah for example, that Saddam could never gain full control over and had just as many problems with that the new Iraqi gov't faces. However, one of the strengths of democracy is that all this in-fighting doesn't result in stagnant wheel spinning of the same old issues. It is through the compition of fanctions that a consensus is eventually reached. Sometimes these competing fanctions duke it out on an assembly floor, other times it unfortunately takes to the streets in bloody war.

"Ambition must be made to counteract ambition." - James Madison, The Federalist, No. 51 (February 6, 1788).

Posted by Josh Reiter at May 29, 2006 12:41 AM

It would be nice to think so -- but the whole trouble is that Islam itself, in its current form, is extremely intolerant and opposed to peaceful toleration of differences, which is precisely why democracy has such unusual trouble taking hold in this region. Not until that finally wears out (as it wore out in Europe's Christianity after a series of wars lasting a century) will Islam take on a more tolerant and flexible form capable of supporting the democratic ethos.

I've always thought and still think that, since so many Moslems are still convinced that a theocratic tyranny is the proper alternative to their current secular ones, our only possible course is to let them actually test-drive such theocracies and find out the hard way that they don't work either -- after which they will finally be ready to listen to us, as a majority of the people of Iran apparently are (the evidence is very strong that Ahmadinejad's "election" was rigged by the mullahs after the upleasant surprise they got in the last election). Our problem -- and it's a big one -- will be keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of those Moslem theocracies before they too are finally overthrown; but it's hard to think of anything else we can do. Moslems certainly aren't going to accept secular democracy just because we Infidels try to force-feed it to them.

Posted by Bruce Moomaw at June 1, 2006 01:56 AM

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