Sunday, August 28, 2005

Apocalypse Already

Frank Rich rightly skewers the Democrats for having no alternative to Bush's "stay the course" piffle, but wrongly says they must offer an alternative to bringing the troops home now, which he derides as "Ms. Sheehan's equally apocalyptic retreat."

Apocalyptic? Hello? It's already way past that in Iraq.

And worse, Rich goes on to prove he's missed a crucial point about the Iraq debacle:
The Democrats are hoping that if they do nothing, they might inherit the earth as the Bush administration goes down the tubes. Whatever the dubious merits of this Kerryesque course as a political strategy, as a moral strategy it's unpatriotic. The earth may not be worth inheriting if Iraq continues to sabotage America's ability to take on Iran and North Korea, let alone Al Qaeda.
"The earth may not be worth inheriting," he's saying, if, in a worst-case scenario, a couple of non-aligned nations get nukes, which would add, oh, five or ten weapons to the 20-30,000 already armed and pointed God knows where.

Apparently, undercutting American muscle is a big no-no, even to Frank Rich. By "ability to take on," Iran and North Korea, he might mean diplomatic options, but I doubt it. I'm pretty sure Rich is objecting to the weakening of America's capacity for "power projection" via military means. I would argue that our strongarmed meddling in the Middle East over the past half a century or so is what got us into this mess. It's something we need less of, not more.

For me, if there's a silver lining in the Iraq debacle it's that maybe, just maybe, it will force the U.S. administration to address future difficulties with hostile countries like Iran and N. Korea the way any sane country would, by negotiation. Not that I'm holding my breath.

Of course, Iran hasn't done anything wrong--at least not anything a country that has recently torn up its disarmament committments can get on its high horse about.

And as for the Iraqi "apocalypse," and the idea that taking our troops out will make things really bad, the question remains: can they get any worse than they are?

To be honest, the answer is "who the hell knows?"

But the major damage has been done, by Bush and the Republicans and the Democrats and the media a genuinely stupid and complacent American public. Under Bush, Clinton and Bush Jr. we have trashed a sovereign nation pretty much continuously since 1990, with war, (declared and not), constant bombing, and crippling, murderous sanctions.

Gosh, we can't leave now. We're just getting started helping the poor Iraqis!

I will take the liberty of re-quoting Andrew Bacevich's good sense, which I mentioned in an earlier post:
Will a U.S. withdrawal guarantee a happy outcome for the people of Iraq? Of course not. In sowing the seeds of chaos through his ill-advised invasion, Bush made any such guarantee impossible. If one or more of the Iraqi factions chooses civil war, they will have it. Should the Kurds opt for independence, then modern Iraq will cease to exist. No outside power can prevent such an outcome from occurring anymore than an outside power could have denied Americans their own civil war in 1861.

Dismemberment is by no means to be desired and would surely visit even more suffering on the much-abused people of Iraq. But in the long run, the world would likely find ways to adjust to this seemingly unthinkable prospect just as it learned to accommodate the collapse of the Soviet Union, the division of Czechoslovakia and the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

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