January 11, 2007

"Social Darwinism on stilts: We failed them, now they’re on their own."

That's David Brooks's characterization of a typical Democratic alternative approach to Iraq. (TimesSelect link.) "So we are stuck with the Bush proposal as the only serious plan on offer."

If you can get through to the column, you'll see some background on the source of Bush's plan. According to Brooks, it represents an outright rejection of Prime Minister Maliki's idea:
Maliki essentially wanted the American troops protecting his flank but out of his hair. He didn’t want U.S. soldiers embedded with his own. He didn’t want American generals hovering over his shoulder. His government didn’t want any restraints on Shiite might....

The Iraqi government wants a unified non-sectarian solution in high-minded statements and in some distant, ideal world. But in the short term, and in the deepest reptilian folds of their brains, the Shiites are maneuvering amid the sectarian bloodbath all around.
Bush's speech glossed over this, according to Brooks, "to soothe the wounded pride of the Maliki government."

22 comments:

Bruce Hayden said...

We really can't afford to give them everything that they want - esp. here. The problem is that of ethnic cleansing - the Shiites in particular are pushing the Sunni Arabs into Sunni-only areas and, preferably, out of the country entirely. And we are all that is standing in the way of this.

While I think that this is ultimately inevitable, we can, hopefully, slow it down enough and make it humane enough that the amount of bloodshed involved will be minimized.

The other thing that has to be kept in mind is that the champion of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs is Saudi Arabia, and we need to keep the Sunni Arab bloodshed down in order to keep them from intervening, and, if they intervene, the Iranians are sure to come in too.

Not surprisingly, the Iraqi government is a bit more ambivalent about this than we are. The Saudis are ostensibly our allies, and we have to keep them happy, while the Iraq government has a lot less incentive to do so.

Too Many Jims said...

I didn't read the whole piece, but I am curious if Brooks talks about how the November elections enabled the Bush administration to force the change on Maliki.

alphie said...

I think this more about protecting Kuwait with its 100 billion barrels of proved oil reserves and 25% Shiite population from whatever we've created in Iraq now.

There's a reason Kuwait looked tasty to Saddam...Kuwait will look tasty to the next Iraqi government, too.

And I doubt we'l have the desire to chase our creation out of Kuwait next time.

Balfegor said...

"Social Darwinism on stilts: We failed them, now they’re on their own."

"A republic, if you can keep it." Oh, you can't? All right then!

paul a'barge said...

What ever it takes, frankly. We're going to have to open up a large can of whup-ass on both the Shiites and the Sunnis, while we're killing reams and reams of Iranians and Syrians, and any of the foreign fighters who entered Iraq with support from those two countries.

The Iraqi culture speaks the universal language of violence. Now we get to talk to them in their own native tongue.

My concern is Petraeus. His background is counterinsurgency with a velvet fist. The Iraqis are going to misunderstand anything not delivered on the head of an iron hammer, well placed to the teeth.

Anonymous said...

The Democratic alternative is quite simple, really:

It is to recognize that we are stuck in the middle of a civil war which won't be 'solved' by military means. Those who talk about trying to 'win' in Iraq just haven't grasped this yet.

Rather, what Democrats (at least most of us) are proposing is that we seek a negotiated, political solution-- likely involving the creation of three seperate states. A military solution just is no longer a feasible option.

I would prefer to see this happen as soon as possible, although if their is one saving grace to the President's refusal to accept the reality of Iraq it is that when we do have to negotiate our way out, hopefully we will have a President in place who is a better diplomat than George W. Bush (diplomacy was never his strong suit.)

Anonymous said...

It is to recognize that we are stuck in the middle of a civil war which won't be 'solved' by military means. Those who talk about trying to 'win' in Iraq just haven't grasped this yet.

Rather, what Democrats (at least most of us) are proposing is that we seek a negotiated, political solution-- likely involving the creation of three seperate states. A military solution just is no longer a feasible option.


The problem with this attractive but flawed analysis is that the people with whom we could negotiate a political solution are not the same people who are waging the civil war. The military solution is, I think, to reduce the importance of the die-hards and jihadists on both sides of the factional dispute. If we can bring things to a tipping point where the people who don't think their vision of Iraq is worth dying and murdering for are less decisive, then the political solution at least has a chance.

Without that military dimension, how do we announce we're "negotiating a political solution?" What kind of credibility would that have? Who would be willing to participate, as of now? In the give-and-take of negotiation, we can't get anywhere if the negotiators for each faction believe they'll be blown up if they make a concession.

It is, to put it mildly, unfortunate we're in this situation. Bush and the Rumsfeld regime deserve pretty much all the blame for pissing away the advantageous position the US was in at the point of Saddam's fall. I am not saying what I'm saying because I like Bush.

But I think he described the situation fairly accurately last night, and the option he's choosing is the only one I've yet heard that isn't either a deadly and counterproductive abdication of responsibility, a wishful fantasy, or an invitation to greatly increase the influence of Iran.

alphie said...

I think it's more serious than that, eli.

Democrats have to realize China's stealing our crown while we're mucking around in a couple third-world countries.

No matter what we do now, it will be hard to emerge from this mess still in first place.

Revenant said...

There's a reason Kuwait looked tasty to Saddam...Kuwait will look tasty to the next Iraqi government, too. And I doubt we'l have the desire to chase our creation out of Kuwait next time.

Why would you doubt that? Two wars have shown that the cost of crushing the Iraqi military is minimal in terms of American wealth and lives. Building a *new* Iraq is what's costing us. Kicking their ass is practically free, and certainly cheaper than letting them have Kuwait's oil.

Bruce Hayden said...

Eli Blake

Let me suggest that you are the one who is ignoring the reality in Iraq right now. I have pointed out elsewhere, ad nauseum, why it isn't a civil war right now in Iraq.

But more importantly here, you seem to be ignoring some basics. First, and foremost, Iraq is relatitively a democracy. Not exactly what we are used to, but, nevertheless, the bulk of Iraqis voted for the current government.

So, for a negotiated settlement, you are either suggesting that the fate of Iraq be determined through negotiation by outside forces (presumably the adjoining countries), or through internal negotiation.

But both fall prey to the problem of a democratically elected government in Iraq. In either case, you are suggesting that this negotiated settlement take precedence over the democratically elected solution. In the case of foreign countries, it would be similar to France, China, and Russia together determining the internal workings of this country. Even if the Iraqi government were involved in the negotiations, it would still not be in a position to morally give away the results voted upon by those millions of Iraqis. Worse, of course, if such "democracies" as Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran were the ones determining this.

The same problem arises with an internal negotiated settlement. The Iraqi people voted. Yes, a lot of Sunni Arabs stayed home. Regardless, they were going to get screwed anyway by the vote. When we intervened in Iraq, they were 20% of the population. Their percentage of the Iraqi population has apparently fallen to about 15% since then. Are they supposed to get a bigger share of power in the country just because they murdered a bunch of innocent women and children? Makes no sense to me, esp. in a democracy.

And that is, of course, the big problem here - the refusal of the Sunni Arab Iraqis to accept their fair share of power in the country, based on their percent of the population, and their continuing attempt to regain control of the country through ever increasing levels of murder of innocent civilians.

Finally, your suggestion of partition is unlikely to solve the problem either. Part of the problem is that, except for Anbar province (which is some of the most desolate part of Iraq), it is unclear what land could be given to the Sunni Arabs. Outside of Anbar, they live in somewhat mixed areas and neighborhoods - if the areas and neighborhoods themselves are no longer as mixed as they used to be, they are still intermixed with Shiite areas and neighborhoods - in a majority Shiite area of Iraq.

The other problem is oil. Almost all of the oil sits under Kurdish and Shiite areas of Iraq. The more that ethnic areas get self-rule, the harder it will be to share oil revenues with the Sunni Arab inhabited areas of Iraq.

Liam Colvin said...

We, as a nation and a culture, have a certain lack of barbarism that is apparently misinterpreted as weakness amongst the more excitable factions in Iraq.

Please note: I say amongst factions in Iraq. Not here in the States, or in the EU, or in Canada.

I mean, we are fighting this war in Iraq, aren't we? Why do we keep attaching western standards to people who adhere to tribal loyalties rather than "human rights"?

Oh dear: here I go again...

dick said...

In other words, Eli, just a wash, repeat of what happened in Vietnam. We negotiate our way out, pledge to help out, pull the funding and then wash our hands of the whole thing while they have a genocide by one side or the other and millions die. Good of you to come up with this solution again. goes right along with the lying by the media that was also an integral of your last solution of the same type 30+ years ago. You even have some of the same idiots in there with the same solution. After all it worked so well the last time you tried it - or maybe it didn't work so well so you figure if we do it again this time it will work better? Same old, same old. God, you democrats are so predictable.

Anonymous said...

Here is what is the Democrat Foreign Policy since 1968:

No non-white culture outside Europe or America deserves Democracy or Capitalism (Vietnam, Venezuela, Middle East). If any war gets hard, abandon our allies (Vietnam, Iraq), attack the President for not being perfect (LBJ, Reagan, Bush I and II).

Yet, during the Clinton years, the rule was negotiate and push issues towards the next President (North Korea or 1993 WTC Bombing). I've heard a lot of carping from Democrats these last 6 years. It is not the Party of FDR and Truman, but Chomsky and Kos (see Hdhouse)-- the new Dems will drop allies in a second for even a hint of "talks", even if the US is being used during these talks (North Korea).

hdhouse said...

Well JSF and other neo-con-dogs on here:

The collective posts here indicate your ilk is the 21st century incarnation of Hitler and Goebbels with a little Joe Stalin mixed in to lighten the load.

You sound more like inhuman thugs than citizens of the US. Where are your values? Where is your regard for life and democracy.

Your philosophies are horseshit. Your minds a demented. You have the appeal of a turd in the punchbowl.

Balfegor said...

Re: JSF

Yet, during the Clinton years, the rule was negotiate

Or invade (Somalia, the Balkans -- no UN sanction in the Balkans either), or bomb (the Sudan, Iraq), or threaten invasion to force a dictator we didn't like to step down (Raoul Cedras in Haiti -- replaced by Aristide, whom we and France cooperated to remove in 2004). The drug war ramped up under Clinton too, I think, and that has led to nontrivial American military involvement in Colombia and other parts of Latin America too.

And, let's be fair here -- plenty of the liberal crowd criticised Clinton both for the landmine thing and for the way he used American military power. They were just minority voices in their party at the time.

Re: Hdhouse

The collective posts here indicate your ilk is the 21st century incarnation of Hitler and Goebbels with a little Joe Stalin mixed in to lighten the load.

You sound more like inhuman thugs than citizens of the US. Where are your values? Where is your regard for life and democracy.

Your philosophies are horseshit. Your minds a demented. You have the appeal of a turd in the punchbowl.

Ah, invective. That's the way to win friends and influence! Clever boy.

Re: Bruce Hayden:

Finally, your suggestion of partition is unlikely to solve the problem either. Part of the problem is that, except for Anbar province (which is some of the most desolate part of Iraq), it is unclear what land could be given to the Sunni Arabs.

Well, we shouldn't discount partition as a solution. After all, it more-or-less worked for India and Pakistan, after Britain broke up the Raj. It was accomplished by massive bloodshed and the deaths of millions, to be sure, but since then, they've only fought a few wars, and things have mostly settled down. The Kargil War in 1998 didn't even escalate into a full-scale nuclear holocaust, even though both sides had nuclear weapons. And of course, the partition of Palestine hasn't produced much in the way of lasting peace, by any measure, but still . . .

Depending on how bad you think the situation in Iraq today is, proportionately, it could actually make sense to recommend partition. Other people think Iraq is actually in the process of partition, going through the murders and all already, so we won't even have a situation as bad as India and Pakistan, although the Iraqis may be in for a few wars over the next fifty years. Unlikely to be much worse than when they invaded Iran, though.

tjl said...

"your ilk is the 21st century incarnation of Hitler and Goebbels with a little Joe Stalin mixed in."

All the options we have to choose from in Iraq are bleak. But just at the moment when one feels tempted to give way to despair, along comes hdhouse to remind everyone how truly witless the left is, and what the results would be if they prevailed.

dix said...

The collective posts here indicate your ilk is the 21st century incarnation of Hitler and Goebbels with a little Joe Stalin mixed in to lighten the load.

You sound more like inhuman thugs than citizens of the US. Where are your values? Where is your regard for life and democracy.

Your philosophies are horseshit. Your minds a demented. You have the appeal of a turd in the punchbowl.


Why can't you right wingers construct arguments as well reasoned as this? Geez, no wonder you lost the election.

Anonymous said...

Well, we shouldn't discount partition as a solution. After all, it more-or-less worked for India and Pakistan, after Britain broke up the Raj. It was accomplished by massive bloodshed and the deaths of millions, to be sure...

Countenancing the deaths of millions as happened in the partition of India is exactly what we should be trying to avoid. It's true -- all of the world's hideous atrocities seem tolerable with the passage of decades, but that's just a trick of our minds. We coo along with Tom Brokaw about 'The Greatest Generation' because our minds are simply not capable of imagining the reality of WWII -- an unbelievable tsunami of slaughter.

To think, it might have been avoided if the French and British had been willing to risk a few hundred of their soldiers' lives to stop Hitler from reoccupying the Rhineland -- this is why I loathe the phony moral superiority of peaceniks. Faced with aggression, the choice is never between war and peace. It is little war now vs. big war later. It is immoral to choose the latter, but we are lectured constantly by hdhouse and his smug cohort about what "inhuman thugs" we are for acknowledging this invariable truth.

The whole reason we went into Iraq, and the whole reason we must stay for now, is to divert the otherwise inevitable march toward mass annihilation. We risk the death of thousands to prevent the deaths of millions. If we allow an India/Pakistan outcome in Iraq, then our soldiers' lives truly would have been expended in vain.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Balfegor said...

You say:

Countenancing the deaths of millions as happened in the partition of India is exactly what we should be trying to avoid.

And I say:

Depending on how bad you think the situation in Iraq today is, proportionately, it could actually make sense to recommend partition.

The question is really how bad the situation in Iraq is today. There are many people who evidently believe that a one-state solution will result in genocide -- in this case, the deaths of many millions, as opposed to the deaths of a few tens of thousands that partition would involve (recall that the population of India-Pakistan was, in 1948, more than ten times the population of Iraq today, and much, much denser, in Bengal, which was re-partitioned into Bengal and East Pakistan, now Bangladesh).

The examples I chose illustrate that I think partition is not actually a particularly good or lasting solution. I don't think the Israel-Palestine situation is sustainable, and, in fact, I don't understand peoples' optimism with respect to the situation in India and Pakistan (although there, it's matter of breaking into smaller bits, rather than of reconstructing the even more arbitrary mish-mash of the Raj, stretching from the edge of Afghanistan all the way through Burma).

But partition is a solution. And for those who think the one-state alternative will produce genocide, with a high degree of probability, it's not an unreasonable one.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

HDhouse: The collective posts here indicate your ilk is the 21st century incarnation of Hitler and Goebbels with a little Joe Stalin mixed in to lighten the load.

You sound more like inhuman thugs than citizens of the US. Where are your values? Where is your regard for life and democracy.


It's sad when a man who has the capacity and years to understand history's evils uses such terms as Hitler and Nazis to decribe his fellow citizens. Maybe you've forgotten what truly inhuman evil is. If so I invite you to look at what sprang up in Southeast Asia after a nation decided to give up the fight.

Khmer Rouge

When you use terms like Nazi and Facist you do the world a disservice by cheapening and fading the memory of what true evil is.

Your words are the hollow words of a bitter man. I do feel pity for you.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh...Hdhouse, you remind me of Otto (Kevin Kline)in a Fish Called Wanda yelling at the John Cleese character:

John Cleese: My, you are a true vulgarian
Kevin Kline: You're the true vulgarian, you fuck.
------------------
You still don't believe in bringing democracy or capitalism across the Middle East or Africa. Hdhouse, if a dictator says they hate Bush, you will support them. I have always said, scratch a democrat, find an aristocrat.

By the way, do you actually know what neo-con means? It means Jewish democrats who became republicans who believe in spreading Democracy to stop Terrorism. What do you hate more? Jews or Democracy?

Hdhouse, you are a hater. For the sake of civility, go. If you have no shame, answer the above questions. I doubt you can.