blog have slipped from Lieberman-Lamont back to the Iraq War, and explaining my position requires a bit more space, so presto- an attempted post jack!
My own personal position on the Iraq war has become less hawkish the more I read, in some part to the principled objections of Charles, J. Morgan, and others, and in some part through knowledge gained elsewhere. I’ll sum up the old position, and then try to convey the new:
Old Position: Saddam crossed multiple lines, all of which dictate the loss of independent sovereignty and a unilateral, global response. Regardless of immediate terrorist threats (and independent of motive), removing Saddam from power was an appropriate, somewhat pressing need, and I couldn’t care less for Bush’s justification for US action- I was in.
New Position- I still agree with most of the old position, only I think engaging in Iraq was a tactical, strategic mistake, and I think initiating war is out until this aspect is solved. Partly from reading the first few pages of “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning”, partly from reading Robert Greene’s page
over at Rudius Medi
a (the host of great sites such as Tucker Max, Tard-Blog, and others…), and partly from less gripping, less recent sources, I think that America got caught up in an emotional backlash created by 9/11, and the helped fuel the rise of conventional
arguments (“For us or against us”) over necessary tactical discussion on the war (“What is the criteria for victory?”).
I strongly recommend reading “Western Strategy is Bankrupt” by Robert Greene over here
. It’s been hugely influential in the way I view the war, and I think Robert Greene does a great job of reframing the debate in angles not taken by the MSM, other media, and partisan apologist groups.
“Terrorists understand that western democracies have certain limitations. The public generally has little taste for big-scale wars in which lots of lives might be lost. They have little taste for wars that would have to last several years to have any effect. They know that a politician in power must consider his response to a terrorist attack in terms of his own political situation. He must play to the public and perhaps do something dramatic in the short-term, but cannot take action designed for the long run, because election cycles do not allow this. They know that politicians come and go in the West and that every four years a new party can totally alter the situation. The terrorists can think long term, while we can only respond in the short term. This is an asymmetry of power that is rarely discussed--that of time.
Furthermore, we in the West only tend to think in terms of conventional warfare even when we think we are talking about the unconventional. A case in point: to us, war must have clear objectives, this objective generally being victory on the battlefield. But this is nonsense. There can be all kinds of objectives that have nothing to do with conventional victories on the battlefield. Seen in the western light, it is hard to understand what Osama bin Laden is after. If he wants to take over the middle east, well, he seems to be failing in that light. But terrorists can have a different objective: namely to create and exploit chaos, to stir things up and rewrite a stalemated situation. Their goals can be limited, or even vague, without making them ineffective.
Another case was the Yom Kippur War in which the Arabs successfully launched a surprise attack on Israel, but eventually were pushed back on several fronts and defeated. Although Israeli military officials were chastised for allowing this surprise, they were generally credited with using an effective strategy to counter this attack. What was not considered was the fact that the Arabs in this war knew they could not defeat Israel militarily. (Sadat later admitted this.) They did not have the weapons or the armies. They wanted to demonstrate to the public that Israel was vulnerable, not this monolithic beast that could not be challenged. In the Arab world this war was seen as a turning point in morale and it has been so ever since. It is a great mistake to not understand the strategy of your enemy, but equally bad is to misread its intentions, its objectives. Sometimes it is not to gain territory or win set-piece battles. Sometimes battles, wars, attacks have political purposes that play out over time. We seem blind to this possibility.”
In our attempt to clean out the Middle East of terrorists we’ve created a large mistake in forgetting that war and politics are inseparable. Fearing that the rest of the world will see our actions as an extension of American hegemony, we’ve attempted to conduct the war in a strictly militant fashion, leaving the politics of the region to, well, the region. I don’t think this will work. I’m all for exporting democracy (in some form) as an alternative to totalitarianism around the world, but I think we’ve got to come clean that part of exporting democracy is exporting America, and if exporting America is out
, then we are in no position to get involved.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been obsessed with analyzing my motives for certain actions (“Why am I doing this? Why did I just say that?”) and trying to figure out where I’m doing things that reflect who I am, and where I’m attempting to create an image, or manipulate those around me. (It’s scary how much it’s the latter). I think that idea is applicable in this instance- What are we trying to do? We’re trying to change the equation in the Middle East by creating America Jr. to counteract Syria, Iran, and others. (I’m totally for this by the way, let J. Morgan dream of landed gentry, and let me dream of American Imperialism) Can we create America Jr. without attempting to create Iraqi-Americans? No. You can’t just slap two coats of paint on any car sitting in a junkyard and expect it to run, and we can't set up a democracy without changing the culture underneath it to something complimentary. We've got to be upfront that either we're posting soldiers in Iraq to keep the fight over there, or realize that the tools we've laid out aren't sufficient to the job. I don't think this is a "We never brought enough soldiers " issue, it's that we brough paintball guns to a debate.
So, what do we do now? We can't just say, "We're here, some of us are queer (but we aren't allowed to discuss it), get over it", we've got to come up with some plan that allows us to withdraw without leaving a giant power vacuum, a civil war that involves more than just the Sunni Triangle, or win, somehow, I think. I don't know how we're going to do this, you tell me. I only know that everything is a whole lot more nuanced than I used to think it was, and every new piece of information gives me two new shades of grey...