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.