Monday, April 26, 2004

The Iraq War Debate

For more than a year and a half now, the debate has raged within this country and the world about whether or not the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do. Thirteen months after the fall of Baghdad, it's amazing to me that opinions either for or against the war have not changed at all. Why is this? I tend to think it's because of the extreme polarization of the American electorate. It's disheartening to continue hearing the same old talking points about why we got into Iraq. We are way beyond that point, we need to now have a lively and intelligent debate about where we go from here. This is why I try not to reflexively snub John Kerry, because I think the more comprehensive his policy on Iraq is, the more it will force President Bush to focus his more also (Kevin Drum has an excellent post detailing the main foreign policy challenges for Kerry vis-a-vis Bush) But unfortunately, Kerry seems to think that by "internationalizing" Iraq than we can shift the burden away from the United States and onto the United Nations. The fact of the matter is, the UN itself cannot accomplish this. The UN is not an army and needs troops from its various member states to fill the mission quota. These member states are the problem, because due to the current level of violence in the country, they wouldn't want to put their own troops in harms way.

Look, I'm all for an increased UN role in Iraq if it will help give the occupation increased legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Because even disregarding the violence, the worse thing that can happen in Iraq is if Iraqis lose faith in us. If that happens, we are doomed to failure. But I still think that ultimately everything will work out in the end.

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Pope's Strategy

Pope John Paul II has issued a statement that says fight terrorism with love. I can't help but laugh. Hey Popey, do you remember when al-Qaeda tried to assasinate you, twice? Your love really had a profound affect on them, I see.

Partisanship over Iran

When I woke up today, I immediately checked Yahoo's frontpage in hopes of reading a headline such as "Iran Backing Sadr's Revolt" or something similar. But alas, nothing. I remain miffed as to why the mainstream media (read: NYT, WaPo, NBC, ABC) has yet to pick up on this major development. But as I write this, CENTCOM head, John Abizaid, says that Syria and Iran are involved in "unhelpful actions."

Roger Simon issues a call to the blogsphere, which I have answered. It's Iran, Stupid! When I talk about the events transpiring in Iraq to my anti-war friends, they give me a look of disbelief. Because it hasn't appeared on the New York Times, they don't believe it's true. That's just ashame. While there are many on the right who call for either a full-scale invasion or surgical bombing strikes on Iranian nuke facilities and assorted military command and control structures, I think that that is just not a possibility at this time. And frankly, the Iranian's know this. Unless we are attacked, Bush cannot undertake any military operation, for it would most likely be political suicide. It is times like this when I wish Bush had the eloquence of one Tony Blair, to articulate the events to an increasingly incredulous public and reassure them.

But unfortunately, us "warbloggers" are his best messengers. It is our responsibility to spread the real reason why this revolt happened. And maybe, just maybe, the news media will be forced to report it.

Sunday, April 11, 2004


I decided not to update about the ongoing fighting in Iraq due to events changing quickly. But now it seems as if the fighting is at a lull (for now anyway) so my thoughts are in order.

For the first 2 or 3 days, the apparent uprising inspiried by radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr caused me to seriously re-evaluate my position in support of the continued occupation. Two serious and spirited debates with my US History teacher exacerbated my thought process. I was afraid. Afraid that Iraq was spinning out of control and that it would ultimately end up as a radical theocracy akin to neighboring Iran, after all, al-Sadr is a Khomeinist.

Now however there are multiple reports that Iran is funneling up to $80 million per month along with several hundred intelligence agents. If this is indeed true, the question asked by many is: what can the US do to stop it? The Bush Administration has been strangely silent on this. Many conservatives hope to use this as a cacus belli to step up American involvement within Iran. If true, yes, I think that this is a declaration of war by Iran. Unfortunately, our hands are tied at the moment. We do not have the troop strength to invade and occupy Iran, even if we did, Bush could never convince the American (let alone the world) public to go along with another war. And soon, Iran will acquire nuclear weapons in order to curb an inevitable American invasion and leverage its weight over Iraq.

I believe that this uprising was primarily done in order to throw off American support for the occupation. They know they cannot match America militarily, but by putting on the impression of a chaotic and bloody uprising, they think the public will turn against it. And by the looks of it, it appears to be working, with public support dropping a whole 7 points, 44% down from 51% three weeks ago. To me, this is potentially diasterous, as many people have taken the defeatist position. Some formerly pro-war people are calling for immediate withdrawl of troops. But unfortunately that is just not possible.

In today's Guardian, Tony Blair, Britian's prime minister points out the consequences of "cutting and running:"
"We are locked in a historic struggle in Iraq. On its outcome hangs more than the fate of the Iraqi people. Were we to fail, which we will not, it is more than 'the power of America' that would be defeated. The hope of freedom and religious tolerance in Iraq would be snuffed out. Dictators would rejoice; fanatics and terrorists would be triumphant. Every nascent strand of moderate Arab opinion, knowing full well that the future should not belong to fundamentalist religion, would be set back in bitter disappointment.

If we succeed - if Iraq becomes a sovereign state, governed democratically by the Iraqi people; the wealth of that potentially rich country, their wealth; the oil, their oil; the police state replaced by the rule of law and respect for human rights - imagine the blow dealt to the poisonous propaganda of the extremists. Imagine the propulsion toward change it would inaugurate all over the Middle East.

In every country, including our own, the fanatics are preaching their gospel of hate, basing their doctrine on a wilful perversion of the true religion of Islam. At their fringe are groups of young men prepared to conduct terrorist attacks however and whenever they can. Thousands of victims the world over have now died, but the impact is worse than the death of innocent people."
Read the rest.

Wretchard of the Belmont Club also helps to put things into perspective and calm my nerves.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Fallujah Massacre

I purposely haven't said much about the events that took place on Wednesday in Fallujah, Iraq. Unless you've been living in Antartica, you already know what happened and the blogsphere has covered it extensively already here, here, and here. Honestly, I find the attacks to be incredibly atrocious as well as most reasonable people. One of the most interesting things is to look at the reactions of the general population.

  • My socialist US History teacher who vehemently opposed the war: "Eh, people are being occupied by a foreign power, what do you expect them to do?"
  • My left-wing English teacher who also opposed the war: "I wouldn't be surprised if they firebombed Fallujah like we did to Dresden. I definitely think it's justified in a case like this."
  • Pro-war friends: "Well, this is a whole new level of hate, they will never accept us in Fallujah so maybe we should pull out of the city."