Friday, November 09, 2007

No, It's Not LIke That At All

In an nonetheless interesting article, the oft-wrong-on-the-war-but-usually-thoughtful Glenn Greenwald gets it really wrong:

We took a country that was relatively stable and a sworn enemy of, and an important check on, Iran. We turned it into a cesspool of violence, instability, displacement, sectarian strife, Iranian influence, and rule by militia.

The best we can hope for is to reverse some of the damage that we did so that a Shiite regime far more loyal to Iran than to the U.S. can rule with some semblance of order. And to "achieve" that, we squandered hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians (at least), and almost every ounce of credibility and influence we built up over the last six decades. That's the best case scenario. But still -- we are hearing now -- the people responsible for that grotesque debacle and who cheered it on are going to be in a "powerful" position, and the people who thought doing that was all a bad idea will be in big, big trouble.

The problems with his analysis are highlighted.

First off, I respect honest disagreements on the war policy, but I feel the need to bust two myths wide open. First off, Iraq wasn't really that stable under Saddam. The state was bound for collapse, not to mention a state sponsor of terror, and a rogue-state human rights nightmare, to say the least. Saddam was a murderer and a butcher. His regime was collapsing around him, and bound to be replaced by a worse regime. The idea was to replace Saddam's regime with a democratic alternative. Things obviously didn't work out quite like we planned, but the real progress we've made isn't some fantasy. Secondly, it's hardly fair to lay the blame squarely on ourselves for the violence there, as if al-Qaeda, the militias, and death squads somehow don't exist. I'm just sayin.'

Oh, yeah, and I'm with Althouse (thanks for the H/T, BTW). What is up with that metaphor?


Q.J. said...


Compared to other Muslim countries in the region, Saddam's Iraq was no worse. Sure, it could be better. But that is up to the Iraqis. If the Iraqis were that displeased with Saddam, why didn't some Iraqi or other Muslim suicide bomb him?

IMO, most Muslim people in the region are indifferent to who or what type of rule they live under. If they did have concern they would changed their rulers themselves.

US intervention in the political affairs of Muslim nations is causing a lot of hostility between US and Them. At the most, the US should seek only friendly relations with the people by trade and cultural exchange. Guns and bombing has a tendency to create bitterness and friction.

Saddam was no saint, but he was not the USA's devil neither.

Rafique Tucker said...

Saddam was a uniquely evil tyrant compared to other Muslim rulers. Surely he wasn't the only monster on the throne, but his reign was a hallmark in brutality. Besides, Iraq is in the heart of the Middle East, and a threat like Saddam in the heart of the region is a big problem.

I also think that was enough support amongst the Iraqi people (and I believe there still is) for regime change, and at least a quasi-democratic society. The problems of sectarian strife and asymmetrical counterinsurgency warfare are real, and things are never simple, but I still think the choice of leaving that cancerous regime in place was a bad one.

Q.J. said...

Removing Saddam played into the drama that is performed in Muslim politics. From my observations (FMOs), Muslim politicians, rulers, or leaders need a foreign enemy or devil so they can use for a scapegoat to excuse their corrupt governance.

How does the Palestinian/Israeli issue have any direct bearing on the governments of Iran or Indonesia? To me it don't. But to them it is an excuse to exercise dictatorial rule, corruption, or bad governance.

The US occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq is used in the same way. Muslim countries, such as Pakistan and Jordan, are only our allies because we pay them to be so. And, they are a half-assed one at that.
If the US cut off the money, they'll cut off the friendship.

The Muslim world is no where near close to having the Western Civ Principles that create an pluralistic and dynamic economy. They abide to mores that seem very backwards or barbaric to most westerners. It is foolish to think that the US or the West can create liberal democracy in their world. It is a concept that has no tradition or has not existed there.

IMO, the Muslim people themselves must decide on what type or style of government they want. And, use the means at their disposal to establish it.

Roland Dodds said...

q.j. I don’t know where to start with your argument. As Rafique already stated, Saddam was just not another totalitarian. He was one of the worst in the region, and worse yet, thought that nothing would ever come upon him and his government because he had seen that the West surrendered to his demands at every opportunity. He was emboldened and murderous, and that is as good a reason as I need to remove him from power.

I will take issue with this point however:

“US intervention in the political affairs of Muslim nations is causing a lot of hostility between US and Them. At the most, the US should seek only friendly relations with the people by trade and cultural exchange.”

Well, using this logic, we should just shy away from ever defending democracy or the rights of women, minorities, or the downtrodden, since it causes hostility from the Mullahs and totalitarians who run those nations. We should also stop fighting against Islamist forces, that I will remind you existed before we entered Afghanistan and Iraq, since they will be angry by our opposition. I find this argument circular, and at best destructive, because it states outright that we should not stand up to ideas that are repugnant to secular liberal democrats.

Yes, we anger theocrats and idiots throughout the Muslim world when we take a stand against their nonsense, but I would rather anger them and support for liberals in their society.