Saturday, November 08, 2003

The Need to Succeed

Over at Tapped, Nick Confessore highlights this quote by Ken "Have I been right yet?" Pollack which says:

For the longest time, they basically had two options. They had the autocracy offered by their government and they had the Islamic republics offered by the Islamic fundamentalists. And here comes the United States and says, "We've got another idea. We've got another way of doing things, and that's democratically."

The U.S. is trying to do that now in Iraq. We're doing it with 130,000 troops and 100 billion of our own dollars. The rest of the region is watching to see if it succeeds. And if it succeeds, there is the chance that others will start to accept and start to move in that direction. If it fails, every Arab is going to look at it and say, the Americans tried, they tried with $100 billion, and 130,000 troops, and if it can't work in Iraq, there's no way it can work here.

To which Nick responds:

This is reality, like it or not. The United States needs to succeed in Iraq, something I think most Democrats actually do understand, conservative piping to the contrary. We can't go home; we have to figure out a way to make this thing work.

I'm not expert on the Middle East. Yes, that's on odd admission for a punditblogger to make, as it never really stops anyone else. But, I'm *really not* an expert on the Middle East so everything I say should be taken with big grains of salt.

However, I disagree with both premise and conclusion. First, is the premise that if it "succeeds" there is a chance that others will move in that direction. This is a one dimensional view of "success" - successful for whom? If the US "succeeds" in Iraq it won't be a success for the ruling elite, and nor will it be a success for the Islamic fundamentalists. Why the powerful in other countries would voluntarily give up that up simply because one of their neighbors had a different model is beyond me. We're just replaying the domino theory here, and I just don't get it.

The conclusion is that we "need to succeed." At this point, I think we need to not "fail miserably." I'd like that to be a resounding success, with a liberal democracy, complete with gay marriage and all, flourishing in Iraq, but the plutocratic colony we're in the process of establishing to the benefit of our war profiteers isn't exactly moving in that direction. The truth is, as Big Media Matt points out, the Bush administration is in the process of "cutting and running" as much or more as any of the Dem candidates (even Kucinich!) are suggesting. I have a hard time believing that the promises of troop reduction will ever really materialize, but in the end it'll be a war between Rove and the Neocons. Normally I'd put my money on Rove, but I'm not sure in this case.

Maybe it's that I just don't see much difference in the net result of being in it for the short or long haul, aside from the body bag count of our soldiers. Perhaps, but perhaps not, a UN supervised trained international peacekeeping force could have better results, but I've seen no evidence that this crowd had any clue about how to establish the infrastructure and institutions that a modern economy needs to function properly. So, extending our occupation is just extending the inevitable while increasing the cost in lives and money.