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The Fallujah Deal: Selling Out Iraq's Future to Terrorists, and Why That's a Good Thing | Main | Micah Wright Is a Fucking Liar
May 01, 2004

The Fallujah Deal, Part II: We've Got Other Irons in the Fire

One of the cheapest but most enduring rhetorical moves is to deny that there's any downside to your advocated plan of action. Race-quota or race-preference advocates routinely argue that quotas help minorities get jobs they wouldn't have but for quotas, but simultaneously argue that quotas never result in a non-minority not getting a job he otherwise would have.

Errrm, how could this possibly be the case? How can helping a minority get a job not also simultaneously hurt the chances of a non-minority from getting the same job?

In the war on terror, leftists, who are anti-war (or at least anti- Republican-led war) claim that we can increase our security by doing nothing at all. There's no tradeoff, they claim, between pacifism and security; no tradeoff whatsoever between vigorous and sometimes intrusive internal security and protecting the nation against terrorism. Again and again, they claim that we can have, simultaneously, maximalist civli-liberties and minimalist police action while simultaneously enjoying maximum security.

That seems pretty dishonest to us. We can imagine an honest case being made for maximalist civil-liberites and minimalist police or military action, but we think that such an honest case would have to begin with the admission: More of us are going to lose our lives to terrorism due to this approach than would lose their lives under a different approach. But we think civil liberties and pacifism are more important that the marginal rate of additional deaths which will be suffered under this regime, and here's why.

Those of us on the right, however, are sometimes prone to the opposite impulse. We've read -- and we've thought and written, ourselves -- that there is almost no tradeoff between killing bad guys and security, either. Killing bad guys, as efficiently and ruthlessly as possible, is always, under all circumstances, a good thing and only leads to increased security, because the bad guys get the message that you're serious.

That's probably more accurate that inaccurate, but we sort of doubt it's an iron-clad rule, always correct under all situations. Simply because we doubt there are many such iron-clad rules in life at all.

Which brings us around to Fallujah.

On the right, there is an impulse -- shared by us -- to say that the best way to deal with these bastards is just to go in there and kill every goddamned last one of them, damn the consequences, and damn the bleatings from Imam Sistani.

Maybe that's true. But it also may be true that by doing so, we would sacrifice the likelihood of success for another important priority, to wit, making Iraq into a somewhat-stable sort of place, the sort of place we can leave to govern itself, and then get the hell out of there.

It is almost too tempting to say that just blowing the living hell out of Fallujah would actually work to increase the stability and security out of Iraq. It's almost too tempting, because it promises us the possibility of doing both what we desperately want to do (kill the bastards) and the result we desperately want to achieve (a stable Iraq that we can leave without regret).

Again, it's possible that going in there and killing everyone is the right move. We don't know. But we also can't dismiss the possibility that doing so would actually lead to a bigger mess than we currently have, and which would then jeopardize the June 30 transfer-of-power date.

It's not that we trust Bush's judgment on this, or the judgment of the Marine commanders negotiating this deal. It's more that there are so many unknowns in the situation that it's difficult to say, with a straight face, that we know Option X is wrong and we know Option Y is right. We don't trust Bush so much as we have too little information upon which to vigorously contradict him.

We think it's important that we transfer power on June 30th.

We think, for one thing, we're sick of Americans dying in order to secure a decent future for these ingrate bastards.

We think, as we said below, that people will behave irresponsibly until they are given responsibility and are forced to confront the consequences of their irresponsibility.

We think our forces are now tied down in Iraq, which undermines the seriousness of threats we may wish to make against North Korea and Iran and Syria; one can't threaten a thug when one is already grappling with a different thug. We want to be done with these thugs, if only to draw back our fist and let the other thugs know we're ready to hit again.

Some will say that letting the terrorists off the hook here undermines the "moral clarity" and absoluteness of the Bush Doctrine.

But the doctrine isn't absolute; no doctrine ever is. There are, of course, a lot of terrorists operating in Yemen, for example, but we're not invading to catch them. Instead, we're working with the Yemenis, pressuring their government and providing military assistance and covert operators, so that we can get, say, 30% of the total possible terrorist-fighting bang for only 1% of the terrorist-fighting buck. We could invade Yemen and catch 70% of the terrorists, but that would obviously entail a very steep price; we've decided, as a nation, it's better to reap a modestly-sized reward which is nevertheless outsized in comparison to our smallish investment.

Will there be terrorists who escape Fallujah do this deal? Of course there will be; probably quite a few. But in world in which resources are simply not infinite, it is sometimes a wise military decision to take a modest gain (reduced, but not eliminated, terrorism eminating from Fallujah) if one can incur a smaller cost (fewer troops actually fighting in Fallujah) doing so.

The Bush Doctrine isn't absolute, either, in Pakistan. Yes, we could simply send 100,000 American troops into the Pakistani tribal areas, violating their sovereignty. We'd have a good (or better, at least) chance of killing Osama bin Ladin, but we would, of course, provoke an immediate coup d'etat which places Pakistan's nuclear weapons in the hands of Islamist maniacs.

We always find it amusing to listen to cheap, moronic partisans like Oliver Willis scream that we should just invade Pakistan. Apparently the rule that "fighting terrorists only makes more terrorists" doesn't apply in the Pakistani tribal areas. And it's always funny that tough-talking liberals always claim they're all gung-ho willing to go to war against the bad guys... just in a different country than the one currently being discussed.

At any rate, Pakistan is once again an example of a situation in which the strong-form of the Bush Doctrine -- wipe the bad guys out, no matter what the consequences, and damn the torpedoes -- is shown to be inoperative. We don't want to radicalize Pakistan.

And neither do we want to radicalize Iraq.

We plan to transfer power on June 30th. After June 30th, many of these problems will be less our problem and more the problems of Iraqis themselves. It's out mission to create a stable and decent Iraq; it's not our mission to create for them a paradisical New Eden on the Euphrates.

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posted by Ace at 11:06 PM

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