Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Why Is Iraq So Central To TWOT? Because We're There

This brilliant insight is Billmon's.

This essay, in which you'll find it, provides the kind of clarifying insight that will become, I'm guessing, the foundation upon which all further arguments, about what to do next, how to define success, how to preempt the Republican and media assumption that the Bush administration owns the national security argument, will have to be based.

In the end, policy mistakes -- particularly big ones -- tend to produce a kind of circular reasoning -- in which those in charge try to justify the policy by citing the need to avoid, at all costs, the failure of the policy. So it was in Vietnam. So, too, with our latest misadventure in Iraq.

A prime example of this loopy logic comes from the father of the war himself, Defense Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz....
This is what the conquering hero told Tim Russert:

I think winning the peace in Iraq is now the crucial battle in the war on terrorism.

And why is Iraq the crucial battle in the war on terror?

Not because of WMD, and not because of terrorist ties, as Billmon points out Wolfowitz now concedes.

If Iraq is now the central battle in the war on terrorism, it's because America is there -- or rather, because Wolfowitz and his crew put it there, in pursuit of their dream of a domesticated Arab world, reconciled to Western hegemony and living in peace and harmony with Israel and its soon-to-be-born Palestinian bantustan.

And so the circle is closed: Because America in Iraq, it must fight the "terrorists." And because it must fight the terrorists, America has to be in Iraq.


The problems raised by such thought processes go way beyond the GIs who must die to keep Wolfowitz's logical loop from coming untied. Calling the war in Iraq the central battle in the war against terrorism ignores the distinct possibility that it is in fact a monumental diversion from the real struggle against terrorism -- a strategic distraction that will make huge demands on the American military and the American intelligence community for years, if not decades. (italics mine)

And that's just the beginning. Go, read, absorb, save to your hard drive, and then continue to think with the same clarity on the key political problem ahead, how to recapture the security issue, which has to be done if we're to outst Bush.