Two Opposing (?) Views

As I made my rounds of the political blogosphere yesterday I stumbled across one post and one comment that I thought illustrated an important point. I’m not linking to either post or comment since I don’t want to get into a spitting contest. I’m only quoting snippets of each in context, editting them only enough to reduce the likelihood of their sources being identified.

The first post is from a blog which I’d characterize as center-left or left but, I think, within the political mainstream. Here’s the quote:

What do you want to happen in Iraq?



I want our troops out of there. Not in November 2008. Not in June 2008. I mean NOW. Like yesterday.

The Iraqis been fighting one another for nearly 1,000 years. Only our arrogance made us think that WE could control him.

Iraq=Arab Yugoslavia
Saddam=Arab Tito

What happened to Yugoslavia after Tito?

Yeah, that’s what’s happening now in Iraq.

We need to leave. Not tomorrow. Not 2 months from now.


Yes, there will be an unfettered Civil War.

So be it.

Yes, it will be on our hands.

So be it.

No more American lives for their carnage, and if they bring in the Saudis and the Iranians and Syrians, I could care less. If they’re bogged down in Iraq, then maybe it’ll take their minds off of trying to kill us. At the very least, occupy their time and slow them down a bit.

The following comment is from a center-right blog and I’d characterize the commenter as center-right or rightwing. Again, I’m editting to reduce recognition and not removing any context. The comment is a response to the questions of another commenter in the thread. I’ve re-formatted it for readability.

Q: What do you think happens day 1 when the US is gone and a Shiia army unit rolls into Ramadi btw? Please describe.

A: No non-Muslims are injured or killed, and no non-Muslim territories or other resources are lost or given to Islam: situation satisfactory.

Q: What happens when the first half dozen Sunni bodies show up in a mixed neighborhood without the US there to at least hold machine guns and keep people indoors instead of kicking their neighbors doors in? Please describe your vision for how this plays out.

A: No non-Muslims are injured or killed, and no non-Muslim territories or other resources are lost or given to Islam: situation satisfactory.

Alternately: red on red action follows: Bonus!

I’m trying my utmost not to disparage either of these points of view. It must be very comforting to see things so clearly, in such stark relief. I’m glad I hold neither view but I just don’t believe that we can escape the consequences of our actions that easily nor do I believe that it’s that easy to identify the enemy.

18 comments… add one
  • I see those arguments a lot Dave. Here’s a get-out-now op-ed that’s a little more cogent, but still has some flawed logic:,15202,141886,00.html?ESRC=opinions.RSS

  • It’s an intellectual convergance caused by the gravitational pull of political reality. Sometimes reality chases idea; sometimes idea hares after reality.

    Iraq is like a black hole bending light itself. Or maybe like a drain, with ideologies swirling around and around in what seem to be separate orbits but which in the end will reach the same practical conclusion.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Recognizing that you’ve edited the comments to avoid recognition, I still must respond that the second commentor has written at extreme length (including being given blog space) about the reasons he has concluded that Islam must be reduced in size or influence in some way. I don’t agree with his solution, but I think it lies on the opposite pole of your friend Dean’s conclusion that Islam is not part of the problem. I believe Islam is a unique religion with its own unique set of problems in this day and age, but that there are strong practical and moral reasons against the U.S. making this a religous conflict.

    BTW/ Fukuyama has argued that the conflict in Iraq is not necessarily as bad as advertised since it has anti-American groups fighting and killing each other.

  • PD Shaw Link

    The first comment is simply ahistorical. Iraqis have not been fighting each other for nearly 1,000 years. And the analogy to Yugoslavia is confusing. I thought the general consensus was that intervention in the Balkans was a good thing?

  • [T]here are strong practical and moral reasons against the U.S. making this a religous conflict.

    Um, haven’t bin Laden et al already made this a religious conflict?

  • PD Shaw Link

    I merely think we should choose our own battlefields.

  • winston07 Link

    Correct Dave.

    Though such views are emotionally tempting, they are both morally wrong and practically dangerous.

    To concede a country with the resources and historical importance of Iraq, to the jihadist, would be an appalling betrayal, and would afford to jihadists the organisational space and infrastructure of a modern, albeit developing, nation state. It would be a tremendous prize for them, greatly encouraging recruitment to their cause.

    Imagine the Islamic republic of Iraq, competing with Saudi Arabia and Iran in the implementation of Shari’a. Imagine the establishment of AQ training camps and programmes. Imagine the acquisition of highly destructive weapons technology by such a state.

    Equally importantly, imagine the conclusions that would be drawn by the vast appeasement lobby, both left and right, in our own societies – it would be argued that no foreign intervention can work, that jihadists cannot be defeated, that our policy should be realist. All of which together would be an almighty distraction from the fight and would delay effective confrontation by years – at precisely the moment when confrontation with Iran may be upon us.

    The global jihad is not only violent, but cultural, and on the cultural front it is winning. It may not be so apparent in the US, but in England there is a very distinct sense of menace from the influence of Islamists within our politics. Not yet by their presence in political office, but by the clear influence on mainstream politicians and political discourse, which Islamism is beginning to have. The recent religious hatred bill, which in practice criminalises criticism of Islam, and in spirit runs contrary to hundreds of years of English tradition, is one example among many. The Labour government’s insistance on dealing in public with Islamist apologists, such as MPAC and MCB, is another. The Conservative Opposition leader’s recent appointment of an Islamist apologist to his shadow cabinet, a third. As for the BBC, no opportunity is missed to promote appeasement, and to present the military confrontation of Islamism as the ‘root cause’ of violence against the UK, together of course with the old canards of poverty and alienation.

    The concession of Iraq to the jihad would greatly encourage such people, and advance the Islamist cause in England and elsewhere. It really would be an enormous setback.

    President Bush’s surge strategy may work, but if it fails, the alternative must not be withdrawal but a change in tactics. Former UK General Sir Rupert Smith, in his book ‘The Utility of Force’, may offer a practical alternative.

    Whatever may occur, the stakes in Iraq, could not conceivably be higher.

  • Guys, I know you think you’re being realists, but you’re missing the practical point that the American people have written this war off. And there is no one now in public life who has any real chance of turning them around.

    Beyond the politics, there’s the math: we can’t maintain the force level we have. The force level we have is inadequate to impose a favorable resolution. A smaller force would logically be even less capable.

    The surge will inevitably be followed by slump. When that occurs the balance of power between us and the various militias will shift in their favor. The only possible antidote is a political solution that can only come from an Iraqi government that shows no evidence of seriousness.

    Lacking a serious Iraqi effort – and that ship may already be standing well off-shore and heading for the deep – we will grow relatively weaker while our foes are able to grow stronger. How does this look like a path to a viable situation? Someone explain to me how we prevail if we are slated to diminish and our enemies are free to act with even fewer restraints?

    Then, if somone can take me that far, go the next step and explain to me precisely who is going to convince the 70% of the American people who think this is a lost cause to begin swelling the ranks of the military and keep writing checks? Who is going to make that case?

    I’m hearing a lot of generalities about how we “have to” do this or that or the other thing. And I want to believe. But someone will have to explain to me how shrinking force levels, an indifferent Iraqi government and an utterly discredited US administration are going to make that happen.

  • Fletcher Christian Link

    There is a solution to the problem of Islamofascist jihad.

    Unfortunately, it involves the creation of rather a lot of big glowing smoking holes in various deserts. But since the current American President went to war on a pack of lies to get himself re-elected, and since the next President will almost certainly not want to continue the policy and Congress won’t let him or her anyway, this solution is now, in my admittedly unqualified view, inevitable.

    Since I am British, my preference is not marked, but I would prefer the creation of glowing, smoking holes in the Middle East not to be preceded by the creation of one or two on American soil. But it probably will, as it will take that to wake America up.

  • Fletcher, while I share your pessimism, I would point out the the precipitating act could be the creation of a couple of smoking holes in Western Europe. Both Britain and France have their own supplies of excavating tools, and pretty much every one of the other “old” NATO nations have the capability to make their own, should they choose to do so. America isn’t the only sleeping giant, nor are we the most terrifying. Europe may yet remember the arts and crafts that allowed them to conquer the world.

  • Mr. Schuler, is everything okay with you? I haven’t seen anything from you in a few days, which is unusual. I hope everything is well with you.

  • I was out of town for a few days without Internet access; I’m back now.

  • Fletcher Christian Link

    Icepick, one of the things that you may not know is that Britain does not have an independent nuclear force.

    Our spineless “leaders” allowed the then American government to give itself a veto over its use, and in any case the missiles are American – to save money – although the subs are all our own work.

  • Fletcher:
    I didn’t know that. Thanks for the insight.

  • Fletcher, do you mean the British forces use American missles that have been purchased, or that America owns and operates the missles? Either way, Britain could still re-build its own nuclear force. The know-how is there, all that’s needed is the will-power.

  • Fletcher Christian Link

    Icepick, I meant that Britain uses American missiles in British subs built for them. This means that America has implicit control over British nuclear policy (play nice or you don’t get spare parts), but in addition to that, for some arcane reason, I believe that the warheads also have locking codes controlled by the American President despite the fact that the bombs themselves are all our own work.
    This was all to save money, in order to give our (far too high) tax money to the feckless and workshy and employ legions of useless bureaucrats.
    I really don’t know how much work it would be to regain control of the warheads themselves, being no expert. It doesn’t really matter; I have no objections to our Government regarding America as a friend and ally, but at present our Government is torn between making us part of the American Empire and letting us be submerged into the faceless bureaucracy of the EU. The third option, remaining independent, doesn’t appear to get a look-in.

    The only alternative to American control of our deterrent thus appears to be its control by Brussels and therefore by the Franco-German axis. It’s close, but I prefer Washington.

  • Fletcher Christian Link

    Sorry, I didn’t really answer. The missiles technically belong to Britain, for what it’s worth.

  • Britain and America have long had an integrated nuclear command-and-control system. The reasons for this should be pretty obvious. However, having an integrated system is not the same thing as Britain giving America “control” of it’s nukes. That’s simply not the case.

    Now, the US and UK have about as close a military alliance as two nations can have. I do not believe this gives America a “veto” over the UK’s use of force, nor is the opposite true. Rather, our two governments closely coordinate actions like any good allies should. The suggestion here that the US could “veto” the unilateral use of nukes seems rather amazing to me and I would like to see any evidence to support such a contention.

    Also, the pedigree of British nuclear missiles have more to do with cost savings from economies of scale and R&D than anything else. IOW, the Brits saved a lot of money by buying a relatively small number of US missiles rather than attempt to develop their own along with all the requisite infrastructure and systems to operate them.

Leave a Comment