11 January 2007

In A Slightly More Serious Vein

Apparently George Bush made his big speech about Iraq today, telling everyone what the news media had been telling us for weeks he was going to tell us. I missed it because I was (duh) at the beach, but I heard them talking about it on the news when I got home.

There was actually a pretty good debate about it on the ABC (Australian, not American Broadcasting Company), in which one fellow argued, somewhat convincingly, that this was just Vietnam-style escalation and would fail for much the same reasons, while the other argued that even if chances of success were slim, any chance had to be taken because the alternative, allowing Iraq to slip into Afghanistan or, worse, Somalia mode, was completely unacceptable.

I couldn't help wondering: what if both speakers were right? Clearly the latter case would be a disaster, not just for George Bush and his "legacy," but for the the soldiers who've died or been maimed in pursuit of this mess, the taxpayers who've had to pay (and will be paying for decades) for it), and the world which will have to deal with the consequences of failure.

Then again, what if it does turn out like Vietnam, and America has to beat a humiliating retreat? Does this mean we'll be at the mercy of Islamist terrorists until, as the most fanatical among them promise, the star and crescent flies over Washington and London? Or could it turn out to be largely a non-event, in the sense that 30 years after the Vietnam debacle, Americans go on holiday to a country that is "communist" in only the most nominal sense and, apart from the hundreds of thousands of dead and the shattered minds and bodies of many survivors, it's almost as though the whole nasty business never happened?

Back when it was being launched, I never made a full-fledged decision on whether the Iraq War was a bad or good idea, seeing some merit to both sides of the question. Right or wrong, however, it has become painfully obvious that Bush and his advisors have disastrously mismanaged it, to the point where even Bush, Senior, one of my least favourite presidents ever, begins to look like a military and political genius.

That being said, unlike many of the Bush-haters, I can't say I want to see him fail in this last-ditch attempt to win the war. Yes, probably we should have never gone in there, and yes, if we were going to, we should have done so with sufficient numbers and strategy to install an occupation government that could ease Iraq's transition to democracy. For those who sneer that such a thing is impossible, I need only cite the examples of Germany and Japan after the Second World War.

But though I will be happy to see the back of George Bush when he leaves office, and will be quite content to see him vilified as the 21st century's counterpart to Warren G. Harding, it would be cutting off our nose to spite our face if we hope to see his humiliation completed by failure in Iraq. Not just for the sake of our own geopolitical position, though that's hardly insignficant, but even more so for the sake of the Iraqi people. If you genuinely think they'd be better off under an Islamist regime, or Somali-style warlords, then I'd say you're harbouring a fair bit of contempt for those people, or somehow think them not capable of enjoying the same sort of freedom and responsibility for freedom that you take for granted as a Westerner.

Personally, I have my doubts over whether Bush's new approach will work. For one thing, I think he'd need more like 200,000 than 20,000 extra troops, and we simply don't have that kind of army anymore, and couldn't raise one without wholesale conscription. But for the sake of just about everyone involved, I can only hope that just this once the Boy Blunder can pull off a miracle.

1 comment:

Russian Oligarch said...

The whole escalation is aimed not at Iraq but Iran. At the same time it gives the finger to everyone who held their noses and voted for the spineless, pencil-necked Demi-rats in protest of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the totally phony war on terror, it's a smokescreen for moves into Iran. I forget who it was specifically, but someone in the administration even admitted that it was about Iran and not Iraq.

It's the perfect set up for WWIII. Gets more of our Yank boys (and the 20% of the military that's illegal aliens and foreign recruits, and that's not counting the 100K mercenaries, AKA "contractors") caught in the crossfire when either Israel attacks Iran or someone stages a false flag Gulf of Tonkin/Maine/Pearl Harbor type event as a pretext for going in full-bore after Iran.