Monday, August 01, 2005

Pulling out

Looks like a "pullout" is planned for US forces in Iraq. The Anchoress (and others) point proudly to a post by Varifrank comparing this "pullout" with those from Germany and Japan after WWII. Break out your flag and go read.

There is now an effort underway by the left to turn victory into defeat. The people who once argued we only went to Iraq for the oil are already screaming that we are leaving, and by calling it a “pullout” it acts as a preemptive attempt to set the tone of the debate, to say that we’ve lost when in fact, we’ve won. The Iraqis have won. They still have their oil, and now they have their dignity.

The world bet that we wouldn’t expose our soldiers to fire to remove a dictator, and they were wrong. The world bet that we wouldn’t leave if we did invade and again, they were wrong. The world said that the Arabs couldn’t be trusted to vote and yes, they were still wrong. The world said that civil war would break out, once again, wrong. They said that the Shiites, the Sunni and the Kurds could never make a working government, and yes, once again, they were wrong.

Lots more. Very well done. Very pursuasive.
But be sure to catch a counterpoint comment if it has not been deleted or edited.

Germany and Japan offer a seductive parallel that reflects one of our best moments in the history of our efforts at nation-building. However there are significant differences in the situation that both Japan and Germany were in at that time and where Iraq is now.

Yet time and again, with stirring rhetoric, Dubya has pointed not to Kosovo, where his Democratic predecessor, President Bill Clinton, sent in troops without U.N. approval to rebuild a nation, but to Germany and Japan.

Both Japan and Germany, prior to World War II and after it, were quite different from today's Iraq, scholars say.

Both had experience with democratic government that -- while obviously flawed -- nonetheless laid a foundation on which to build. Both enjoyed extraordinarily enlightened postwar leaders, Konrad Adenauer in Germany and Yoshida Shigeru in Japan.

Iraq has had none of that. It's been a brutal dictatorship, one after another.
Germany and Japan were homogeneous societies, not the fractured collection of hostile ethnic groups that is modern-day Iraq, first drawn on a map by colonial Britain.

Both had sophisticated economies with a diversified industrial base and a broad middle class. Iraq's economy is highly oil-dependent, with little industry and a middle class dramatically weakened by decades of war and international economic sanctions.

Perhaps most important, scholars said, Iraq's experience of war will be different from Japan's and Germany's at the end of World War II.

Both Germany and Japan tried the project of fascism, they were defeated at it, and the societies were exhausted. They recognized that they had gone down a terribly wrong path, and they were ready to try something very different.

Etc., etc.

In my deepest heart I truly hope Varifrank is correct. And I want the counterpoint to be wrong, wrong, wrong. At this moment I refer to my tagline regarding optimism.
But somewhere deep inside I have stinking reservations.
I cannot help the feeling that the next US presidential election has more to do with our schedule than altruistic concerns about the wellbeing of Iraq.
I cannot bring myself to believe that "they still have their oil."
I sure as hell don't think that "they have their dignity."
It is a mathematical reality that in the US and Iraq there are thousands of grieving families left with scar tissue that will take generations to heal over.
And until there is a breathing space in the chaos of the Middle East, I will not be free of the idea that all we are seeing is a pause before the next mischief being planned in Washington.

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