Monday, October 04, 2004

I Belatedly Answer the Questions Three

I missed out on the Volokh Conspiracy blogosphere challenge, but I’ll go ahead and offer my responses here.

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?

Yes. We eliminated Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime. They will no longer influence the Middle East, the world oil market or the UN Security Council. There can be no dispute about those items.
Regarding WMD, regardless of the arguments about what the Administration knew or should have known or believed or should have believed, it is indisputable that Saddam had attempted to restore his WMD in 1995 in spite of ongoing inspections, and despite sanctions, refused to demonstrate full compliance and disarmament in the manner of Ghaddafi’s Libya.
Regarding terrorism, prior to 9/11 Saddam’s secret service met with Al-Qaeda to discuss common operations—depending on which intelligence services you believe, as late as 2000. Subsequent to 9/11, Saddam refused to cooperate with the US to eliminate the Al-Zarqawi cell that masterminded operations against Americans in the Middle East from inside Iraq.
We have eliminated a multi-billion dollar organization with diplomatic cover in every capital in the world who refused to cooperate with sanctions or the War on Terror.

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?

My reaction? Thhbbpptt!
It’s been no secret that the press has been waiting to declare defeat in Iraq. They tried it back in April. We saw the articles in the media journals asking who’d be the brave soul to repeat Walter Cronkite’s Tet meltdown. And we saw the articles leading up to the 1,000th death ‘milestone’—some ‘reporters’ jumped the gun with the 1000th Coalition death, and others combined 997 dead troops and 3 construction workers. So now the story is: When will the Administration acknowledge our defeat in Iraq?

They figure: we couldn’t have won in Vietnam, and we missed that story because we thought a pro-US government meant something, winning every battle meant something, standing for peace and quiet and capitalism meant something, that containing the resistance meant something, that the lack of widespread support for the enemy meant something. But in fact, this was all meaningless, the silent and indestructible enemy marched to inevitable victory under our very noses. So they figure.

So in 2004 Iraq, a pro-US government means nothing, winning every battle means nothing, standing for an absence of car bombing and for economic growth means nothing, containing the resistance means nothing, the lack of widespread support for the enemy means nothing. And they are left with no meaningful signs of progress, and they report we can’t win in Iraq.

The fact that, in Iraq as in Vietnam, they send reporters to cover this foreign war who were covering extreme weather in Iowa last week and will cover race relations in Chicago next week, and have to hire local yokels to fill in the story outline handed down by New York, totally escapes them.

Show me an Arabic-speaking journalist who is as devoted to the Baghdad beat as the Washington press corps is to the Capitol, and I’ll take their opinions with some confidence. But Thomas Friedman on Iraq?

And finally, a lot of the media confuses war with peace-keeping. We’re not in Iraq to prevent all violence. We’re in Iraq to perpetrate violence against the armed opposition. A day in which 125 insurgents are blown away is a good day, a day of progress. But I get the idea that if 600 yahoos charged our Marines with sharp sticks, the headlines would read: Marines attacked in Iraq; 600 killed.

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?

Long-term:
The presence of a democratic government that follows the Basic Law.
The presence of US counter-terrorist teams in Iraq cooperating with the Iraqi government.
The absence of genocide, sectarian or ethnic partition, Islamist dictatorships, or indifference to terrorism.

Short-term:
Elections as scheduled.
Iraqi troops trained and deployed in increasing numbers as scheduled.
Continued destruction of partisan and sectarian militias.

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