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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Beldar answers Orin Kerr's three questions on Iraq

Off the top of my head, here are my answers to Orin Kerr's three questions for pro-Iraq War bloggers:

First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?

Absolutely.  After ousting the Taliban, Saddam's Iraq was the next obvious target.  Sanctions were hurting the wrong people; Oil for Food was making the worst people rich; diplomacy never would have worked.  Saddam's forces were shooting at our planes on a daily basis.  Google on "sarin + 'artillery shell'" and tell me again that he wasn't dangerous; we didn't find WMD stockpiles, but we found capabilities, and we know from past experience that he had the willingness desire and intent, plus cash out the wazoo.  America and the world are better off knowing that America's threats aren't idle and that the American military is fully two generations beyond any military power it's likely to have to face in open combat.  And because we used force in Iraq, there's a far better chance that force won't be necessary against other state sponsors of terrorism (start with Libya, head east to Syria and Iran, keep going to North Korea).  The myth of Mogadishu has been exploded; messing with the US has consequences — potentially including military consequences — in a way that no one has really believed since at least Desert One.  That's just on the Homeland side; stopping a regime that practiced day-to-day mass murder on its own people and giving millions of Iraqis a decent chance at liberty and democracy would have been ample cause on its own, especially given the moral debt we owed those people after encouraging, then wimping out on them, after the Gulf War.

Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?

I am entirely unsurprised by either the fact that there's been continuing violence or the massive over-reporting thereof (and under-reporting of encouraging news).  Anyone who's ready to give up now has absolutely no sense of history, nor of the risks we'd face if we did so.  We're no longer on the horns of the dilemma we faced in Vietnam or even Korea; taking the fight to the enemy will cost lives, but not at anything remotely like the rate at which American lives were lost in Korea or Vietnam, and now we're not faced with instant global thermonuclear incineration if we push too hard.  Every killed or wounded American/Coalition/Iraqi soldier or sailor or airman or policeman or civilian is a tragedy, but the only catastrophe would be to render meaningless their sacrifices by cutting and running.  Our military understands that freedom's never free; maybe that's trite, but it's basically the same thing Jefferson said about watering the roots of the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants.  I just hope our public will remember that, without having to have another 9/11-or-worse reminder.

Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?

In the short term, obviously, the elections are very important, even if they're marred by violence.  (We've already passed one huge short-term milestone, the return of sovereignty.) In the middle term, a gradual increase in Iraqi domestic security and economic well-being and opportunity must be maintained.  In the long term, everything else depends on establishing and maintaining democracy, even if (as is likely) a genuinely independent and democratic Iraq ends up being less grateful and friendly than Americans would like.  We've done this drill of encouraging and nurturing and protecting democracies before — Italy, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan — each different, some much harder than others, probably none as hard as what we're trying to do now.  To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we'll give them a republic, and then we'll see if they can keep it — albeit hopefully with help from civilized allies in America and elsewhere.  I don't expect Iraq to ever  resemble Iowa; but something Venezuela-like would mean real progress; and even if they end up in twenty years no better off than Egypt is now, that still will have been a huge improvement for America and for the world.  Twenty years is too short a time-frame in which to measure, for that matter.

I'm sure I've missed something important or stated things less eloquently here than I'd like to have, and everything I've just said can be quibbled with and picked at.  But I gather Mr. Kerr wants something that would approximate what I might tell him if he bought me a beer at a friendly bar.  Cheers!

Posted by Beldar at 01:35 AM in Global War on Terror | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Beldar answers Orin Kerr's three questions on Iraq and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Three Questions for the Pro-War Blogosphere from QandO

Tracked on Sep 30, 2004 9:32:29 AM

» War questions from Bob's Place

Tracked on Sep 30, 2004 10:40:00 AM

» Blogosphere Challenge -- The Final Links: from The Volokh Conspiracy

Tracked on Oct 4, 2004 9:30:00 PM


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