Wednesday, April 07, 2004

An honest conservative on Iraq

I'll take an honest conservative over a knee-jerk, ignore-any-inconvenient-facts type of liberal any day.

George Will is one example of the former (most of the time), and in today's Washington Post column he takes on some of the fundamental fallacies of current administration policy in Iraq. Will is a realistic supporter of imperialism, which he says is a "bloody business," and calls on Americans to "steel themselves for administering the violence necessary to disarm or defeat Iraq's urban militias, which replicate the problem of modern terrorism -- violence that has slipped the leash of states."

Although coming to different conclusions, I found myself agreeing with much of Will's analysis. Although I tend to think Juan Cole probably knows what he's talking about more than CPA spokespeople, who try to minimize the size and nature of the Shiite uprising, Will nevertheless makes a valid point (well-known to any student of revolutions) that "history usually is made not by majorities but by intense minorities." Will then goes on to authoritatively cite Richard Pipes, noting that "there may have been fewer Bolsheviks than there are members of Sadr's militia" when the Bolsheviks triumphed. (Harold Meyerson makes a similar analogy to Bolshevism in another column in the Post today.)

In Will's analysis, the only way out of this is for the U.S. to do more -- much, much more. But alternative scenarios of failure --which I find more likely-- also flow from his thinking: "U.S. forces in Iraq are insufficient for [the] mission; unless the civil war is quickly contained, no practicable U.S. deployment will suffice."

One only has to listen on CNN to the politicians stuck inside the "green zone" of Baghdad, as well as those inside the Beltway, to quickly realize that these guys are not strategic thinkers, they are mystics -- people who believe they can magically change reality in an ever-so-foreign country, by simply willing it to be so.

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