Religious Liberalism
Thursday, July 19, 2007
More Iraq discussion:

Overwhelming evidence of failure now? Or sometime in the future?

It has been four years and about 3800 American lives. Military spending is a lower percentage of GDP than the early Clinton years. The US is involved in a war that by traditional standards might not even be considered a war. It certainly isn't a Vietnam.

We are willing to run from Iraq. But looking historically, the country is doing better than those that were targeted under our 'War on Drugs.' Colombia was an incredibly violent place for decades - with the one distinction being that no one cared. The US continued to support the country and now, finally, it is recovering. Such a thing didn't happen overnight, and wouldn't have without our support - through many many setbacks. War is a very very difficult business. But we should really give up on all international efforts if 4 years of difficulty will stop us cold. The War on Poverty or Drugs should have been given up many many many years ago on this measure.

Consider: Rio has a murder rate that is almost the same as Iraq. Few people consider Rio to be in a civil war. There is, effectively, a war afoot there - but nobody is asking the Brazilian government to pull away. In fact, it has taken time, but they've cut that rate by some 20% over the last 10 years. However, Brazil and Colombia, for all their issues, aren't nearly as important as Iraq.

The war in Iraq is quite interesting because it is a war of ideas - not of territory. The other side's goal is to maintain chaos and death so that the US will withdraw and the IDEA of US power and dedication to freedom will be forever shattered. This is why Iran is funding both the Sunni and Shia terrorists. They want chaos. This was the strategy laid down by Zarqawi before he was killed - his correspondance calling for it was clear. This is why they bombed the Samarra Mosque (which kicked off the upswing in violence we're still in). The US desire, on the other hand, is to deliver peace under a free government. We don't need to hold the territory either - just pacify it. Failure to do so will be roughly equivalent to withdrawing from Beirut. It will be a clear sign of weakness and it will generate a monster down the road.

It has become far clearer recently that the bulk of Iraqis support the American side of the equation. They may not like America, but they don't want chaos. Moqtada and the Accord Front both rejoined Parliament today. The Sunni tribesman have launched attacks on al Qaeda in lots of their territory. Even Moqtada has stepped away some from his Iranian backers. The locals aren't happy with the violence. The American surge, while INCREDIBLY young, has helped in some areas. The very concept that we will surge has provided support and confidence for our friends to stand up to the terrorists. Not much though, as the Senate and House push for retreat. Mosul isn't suddenly being bombed because people in Mosul have decided to start killing each other. It has suddenly been bombed because people who aren't from there are moving their activities from their 'home bases.' The goons and the gangs are being displaced, but are trying to carry their party elsewhere. This really is progress. The locals in Mosul know their neighbors aren't behind the campaign, and so while it can kill many it will be much harder for it to create war between groups. But it won't be done in 3 months.

The way I see it, the goal isn't to unite Iraq or solve the Sunni/Shia conflict. Such things are indeed beyond us. As I wrote in an earlier conversation (and from here I'm quoting an earlier conversation), the key is to change the methods by which the battle is fought. (see the below message)
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A religious liberal is committed both to his or her religion and to the belief that governments are established primarily for the protection of individual liberty and human rights.

Chana is the academic who wrote Liberty, G-d's Gift to Humanity, Joseph relates the ideas to current events and discussions.

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