Saturday, July 14, 2007

Iraq in 10 Short Paragraphs

Not a solution. I haven't got one of those either. But the situation as it stands in Iraq in a nutshell from Dr Pournelle:

"Not another nickel! Not another dime! Not another Soldier! Not this time!" which seems to be the entire argument of one Congressman contributes [not] an awful lot to understanding the seriousness of the move. On the other hand, the entire intellectual ability of many of our college students seems to be summed up in chanting "One! Two! Three! Four!" followed by denouncing whatever politician they don't like, so I suppose I shouldn't be astonished that the debate in the Congress of the United States makes a drunken sophomore bull session sound like Plato's Symposium.

Now, perhaps the war is lost and we ought to get out. I never thought we could win it. It is not that I thought us incapable of winning, but that I was certain we would never have the determination, nor would we commit the resources and time required to establish a constitutional and orderly state in Iraq. I put it that way rather than "democracy" because we clearly could establish a "democracy" tomorrow morning. What we can't do is prevent that "democracy" from, by democratic means, transforming itself into an Islamic state with persecution of minorities. What Iraq needs is a constitutional republic, or a stable monarchy, and installing something of that sort will take a lot of time. It need not be expensive, in the sense that we could restore the oil production (and be absolutely repressive about it; free fire zones with bounties around refineries and pipelines, etc.) and use the revenue to pay for our occupation and constabulary forces. (And those would be two difference forces, but we've been through that before.)

It appears to me -- from the outside, and I have no special sources of information -- it appears to me that the factions in Iraq refuse to compromise because each thinks it can win it all. The Sunni believe that because they were top dogs for centuries they can be so again. The Shiites believe that because they are a majority, they will win. And both Shia and Sunni believe that Allah will prevail, and Allah favors their faction. The Kurds believe that they can build their own Kurdish state, and that the Turks will not come in and flatten them as soon as the US is out of the way. In other words, of the three major factions, every one of them thinks it can achieve its goals without cooperating with the others.

History shows that when you have a situation like that, the only long term solution is to let them fight it out until they understand just what they can and cannot so. It takes a long time. The Thirty Years War, the Hundred Years War, The War Between the States, the American War of Independence... The American Civil War was the shortest of those, but made up for that in blood.

Perhaps it will be that way in Iraq. Unless we commit to the long haul, with both Legions and Auxiliaries and a local constabulary and US supervision of the division of the oil revenues for decades, it will be that way.

Perhaps something short of a full constitutional republic or monarchy can be achieved and we can get out with a bit more dignity, leaving behind a government that is doomed, but it was working when we left. Perhaps.

And perhaps we ought simply to get out, now, and if it were done when 'tis done, 'twere best it were done quickly; in other words, cut and run, because we can't achieve a better result.

These are important matters -- and the cant phrases that pass for Congressional Debate are not contributing to our understanding.

I do not know what we ought to do in Iraq. We broke it; we own it; we have a moral obligation to leave the place better off than it was when we went in. On the other hand we do not have a moral obligation to bankrupt ourselves attempting the impossible.

I note that the public seems to understand. Congress has an even lower approval rating than the President, and his rating is abysmally low.