Thursday, November 08, 2007

AUTHENTIC WESTERN GIBBERISH. While other war fans talk about how great things are going in Iraq, Daniel Pipes contemplates the expected collapse of the Mosul Dam and draws interesting conclusions:
Yet, were a catastrophic failure to take place, who would be blamed for the unprecedented loss of life? Americans, of course. And understandably so, for the Bush administration took upon itself the overhauling of Iraqi life, including the Mosul Dam. Specifically, the U.S. taxpayer funded attempts to shore it up by with improved grouting, at a cost of US$27 million. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has, however, judged these efforts mismanaged and ineffective.
I don't see why they don't just paint it and put a cross on top of it. But Pipes continues:
Mosul's dam replicates a myriad of lesser problems in Iraqi life that have landed in the lap of Americans (and, to a much lesser extent, their coalition partners), such as provisioning fuel and electricity, working schools and hospitals, a fair political and legal system, and an environment secure from terrorism.

Since April 2003, I have argued that this shouldering of responsibility for Iraq's domestic life has harmed both Americans and Iraqis. It yokes Americans with unwanted and unnecessary loss of life, financial obligations, and political burdens. For Iraqis, as the dam example suggests, it encourages an irresponsibility with potentially ruinous consequences.

A change of course is needed, and quickly. The Bush administration needs to hand back responsibility for Iraq's ills, including and especially the Mosul Dam. More broadly, it should abandon the deeply flawed and upside-down approach of "war as social work," whereby U.S. military efforts are judged primarily by the benefits they bring to the defeated enemy, rather than to Americans.
If only Ray Nagin, Kathleen Blanco, George W. Bush, and "Brownie" had thought of this! They didn't build the damn levees, just as the U.S. didn't build the damn dam; why should they take any responsibility for what happened/will happen when they/it collapsed/collapse?

Like other conservatives, Pipes supports our continued occupation of Iraq. But he just wants us to use it as a base for "rollback" (i.e., war with other Middle East states), get the oil, and provide a "benign presence" during the "years, perhaps decades" it will take Iraqis "to learn the subtle habits of an open society." He believes we shouldn't waste our time trying to fix things while we're there, asking bluntly, "how many Americans or Britons care deeply about Iraq's future course?"

Pipes is of course a lunatic, but I must admit I find his approach refreshingly honest and even coherent compared to that of the many dead-enders (no links, go to just about any rightwing rag and fish around) who still tell us how our bombing, invasion, and occupation of Iraq was, and continues to be, for the Iraqis' own good.

Indeed, the dead-enders seem to be edging reluctantly in Pipes' direction: at the time of the 2005 Iraq election the National Review editors were gung-ho for export-grade democracy, but now many of them are downplaying it ("The Arab world doesn’t have a great grasp of what democracy is" -- Jonah Goldberg; "Our problem in the war on terror is less the absence of democracy than the absence of strong states" -- Rich Lowry, etc). And recent events have forced similar admissions from the same people as regards democracy in Pakistan.

Maybe, if they get time for it, they'll all start talking about the need for a strongman who will keep the Iraqi people in line no matter how crappy their conditions are. Pity we hung the last proven practitioner of that craft.

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