Saturday, April 10, 2004

Another war supporter bites the dust

And now for another previous war-supporter's take on present-day Iraq. Tish Durkin of the New York Observer is depressingly hilarious:

"I’d still support the war—and so, I gather from months of putting the question, would most Iraqis. A year ago, when it invaded, the Bush administration did the right thing. But with astounding, relentless, marksman-like consistency, it has been doing the wrong thing ever since. Contrary to the cries of its critics, this long march of missteps has not occurred because the administration is full of flag-waving, U.N.-flouting, slogan-spouting cowboys. It is because the administration is, it is now painfully clear, utterly devoid of cowboys. A cowboy, after all, rides into hostile territory, fights the bad guys, helps the good guys, and protects the women and children. This administration rode in all right. Then they realized that the bad guys were really, really bad, that they did different kinds of bad things that required different kinds of responses, and that they were often hard to distinguish from the good guys.

So the administration of liberation kept right on riding. Soldiers were left behind to deal with street-level realities that properly involved the military and street-level realities that properly did not, and the administration formed a circle of wagons and called it the Green Zone. There, they met with and memo’d each other, bussed in for consultation Iraqis who were willing to be bussed in for consultation, and created Iraqi institutions that they endowed only with the power to paralyze the government. In short, for the purposes of Iraq after the war, this administration is the women and children.

If the Coalition Provisional Authority is not comprised of cowboys, neither is it comprised of missionaries or hawks. They are temps—and not temps in the sense of being temporarily in the country until such time as its rightful return to Iraqi authority. They are temps in the where’s-the-washroom, if-only-everybody-had-a-name-tag, who-is-my-go-to-Iraqi sense. To be sure, some of them are good, smart, well-meaning, hard-working temps. But in a proportion of cases that would worry the floor manager of any self-respecting J.C. Penney, they come in for six weeks or three months, at the start of which many know nothing about Iraq, past or present. (Some do know the future, and they agree—it’s democratic!) If they get to know something, it is out of the goodness of their hearts and the curiosity of their minds, not the requirements of their jobs. As for figuring out the situation more instinctively and immediately once they get on the ground, they have an all-purpose, fool-proof excuse for doing nothing of the kind: It’s too dangerous."

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