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October 03, 2007

Center-Left Brit Rag Prospect Endorses Iraq Victory

Or at least one writer does. I'll make you go to LGF for the link to the full article, since I swiped it from there.

The article's headline is "Mission Accomplished," by the way. And he doesn't mean that ironically.

The question of what to do in Iraq today must be separated from the decision to topple Saddam Hussein four and a half years ago. That decision is a matter for historians. By any normal ethical standard, the coalition’s current project in Iraq is a just one. Britain, America and Iraq’s other allies are there as the guests of an elected government given a huge mandate by Iraqi voters under a legitimate constitution. The UN approved the coalition’s role in May 2003, and the mandate has been renewed annually since then, most recently this August. Meanwhile, the other side in this war are among the worst people in global politics: Baathists, the Nazis of the middle east; Sunni fundamentalists, the chief opponents of progress in Islam’s struggle with modernity; and the government of Iran. Ethically, causes do not come much clearer than this one.

Some just wars, however, are not worth fighting. There are countries that do not matter very much to the rest of the world. Rwanda is one tragic example; and its case illustrates the immorality of a completely pragmatic foreign policy. But Iraq, the world’s axial country since the beginning of history and all the more important in the current era for probably possessing the world’s largest reserves of oil, is no Rwanda. Nor do two or three improvised explosive devices a day, for all the personal tragedy involved in each casualty, make a Vietnam.

The great question in deciding whether to keep fighting in Iraq is not about the morality and self-interest of supporting a struggling democracy that is also one of the most important countries in the world. The question is whether the war is winnable and whether we can help the winning of it. The answer is made much easier by the fact that three and a half years after the start of the insurgency, most of the big questions in Iraq have been resolved. Moreover, they have been resolved in ways that are mostly towards the positive end of the range of outcomes imagined at the start of the project. The country is whole. It has embraced the ballot box. It has created a fair and popular constitution. It has avoided all-out civil war. It has not been taken over by Iran. It has put an end to Kurdish and marsh Arab genocide, and anti-Shia apartheid. It has rejected mass revenge against the Sunnis.... The country has ceased to be a threat to the world or its region. The only neighbours threatened by its status today are the leaders in Damascus, Riyadh and Tehran.

...

Understanding this expensive victory is a matter of understanding the remaining violence. Now that Iraq's big questions have been resolved—break-up? No. Shia victory? Yes. Will violence make the Americans go home? No. Do Iraqis like voting? Yes. Do they like Iraq? Yes—Iraq's violence has largely become local and criminal. The biggest fact about Iraq today is that the violence, while tragic, has ceased being political, and is therefore no longer nearly as important as it was.

Some of the violence—that paid for by foreigners or motivated by Islam's crazed fringes—will not recede in a hurry. Iraq has a lot of Islam and long, soft borders. But the rest of Iraq's violence is local: factionalism, revenge cycles, crime, power plays. It will largely cease once Iraq has had a few more years to build up its security apparatus.

What I find less shocking than the finding that the war is just, winnable, and crucial is this (presumably left-leaning) writer's clear-eyed recognition that yes, some countries matter than others. Not people, but countries. I'm so weary of the left's furiously contradictory careenings between soft-headed but vindictive idealism as regards any war we're not fighting and claims to support a neo-Kissingerian foreign policy -- "Let Allah sort 'em out" -- as regards any war we're actually fighting. This conveniently principle-free guide to foreign policy is entirely outcome-oriented: No matter what the situation, no matter if we're intervening, embargoing, or treating a regime perfectly peaceably, we're always wrong.


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posted by Ace at 01:16 PM

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