Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nation Building and Iraq

Iraq, depending on our success there over the summer, will continue to be a talking point through the campaign. And it is one of the few places where there is a clear contrast between the two candidates. It's also a point where my libertarian and conservative views may have a conflict. So let's put this silly sumbitch of a conflict to rest right the fudge now.

First of all: Nation building is a tricky and inherently expensive process, and has a high potential for failure. Let's just look at the process in general. First of all, we go into a country and bomb it. We take down the government, a significant part of the infrastructure, and as a result destabilize the country. Now we have military control of a country that has a mixed population: part glad we've removed their oppressor, part indifferent except for the fact there's more people with guns around, and part pissed off and ready to start some shit to get back what they had before. And true success can only come if the people embrace the opportunity to create a government. This varies by country. For example, Japan after WWII was a mess, bombed to shit, with two cities nuked. However, their people accepted their destruction, were treated well, and embraced the new direction. As a result, they became a powerful economic force. Since WWII though, we have had less success. Therefore, the rule on nation building is that we sure as hell shouldn't do it until we have NO other choice. Because unless the population is ready to toss off the current regime and make a new government, we're getting ourself in to what can generously be described and a grand unholy clusterfuck of biblical proportions that can only end really, really badly.

This brings us to Iraq.

Now, as I have said before, the time for debate over the ifs of going in are well over. That's something for history to deal with now. We are currently in Iraq, engaged in good ol' nation building. The debate therefore is twofold: First, what is our responsibility in Iraq? Second, at what point do we leave?

First, the candidate answers. McCain has stated something to the effect that we will stay there until the job is done, no matter the cost. Obama is leaning toward the cut-and run crowd, although he seems to have softened from a pure retreat strategery.

Naturally, since I don't look to either of these bastard for anything, here's my answer.

When we entered Iraq, we committed ourself to a nation building. That sucks, but we're a few years too late to change that. Success of the operation ultimately rests on the Iraqis. With the success of the surge, we have the country stabilized. Now it's up to the government to get their shit together. And as we get the Iraqi army and police online, we have the best chance for withdrawing now. I don't think we'll fully withdraw from the country in the next decade, due to the need to continue the fight against terrorists. But with the Iraq government finally in place and moving toward theri benchmarks, we have nearly fulfilled the conditions for nation building (yay). So whoever the next president is, they need to balance the need to wean Iraq off our perpetual indulgence with our needs to maintain a base of operations against terrorists (on the Iranian border, maybe).

Did I miss anything?

18 comments:

Toad734 said...

Yes,

A. never vote for a candidate during a war who had already screwed up that war in biblical proportions. That was our first mistake.

B The country if far from stabilized. We are paying off militias to stay home and not kill each other. The surge, along with our bribes, has reduced violence in Iraq for the time being. I think there is an inevitable civil war waiting to happen whether or not we leave tomorrow or 100 years from now as McCain has suggested. Either way, it's going to happen and maybe it should. As we see in Africa, the Brits and other colonial powers were never good at drawing lines on a map. They figured they are all darkies and they should all get along but that isn't the case. Iraq perhaps should be 3-4 different countries and there may be nothing to prevent that. Why use our troops as target practice for the opposing sides?

C. The original terrorists came into the country only because we were there. Us going there created even more terrorists because we all know how much the middle easterners love westerners messing around in their back yard. Us staying there and making Iraqis buttfuck each other in prison and taking pictures of it creates even more terrorists. The terrorists who came into the country recruited the now jobless Iraqi army (thanks Brimmer). What I am saying is that you can't kill all the terrorists because for every terrorist you kill, a few civilians die along with him, the more of those you kill, the more people you piss of who later become terrorists. The terrorists will only go away when we go away. People don't just become terrorists because its fun, they do it because they are fighting for a cause they see as just. They justify being terrorists because we invade their countries and arm Israel who kills their people too. They feel they need to fight back against their enemy and the supporters of their enemies. Just as you would do if Iran invaded Ohio.

The problem is there is no solution except maybe to just let them all kill each other and separate into different countries but that will fuck up Exxon's oil supply so the US won't let that happen and who knows what Turkey and Iran would do once there were three countries.

I know we are there and we have to deal with it but it always comes back to we should have never gone in there in the first place, especially not with the idiots who were running the show and had no idea as to what they were doing.

It's a cluster fuck, thank you GOP.

Dave Miller said...

As the British learned long ago, there is no easy solution for Iraq. There may not be any solution that will be acceptable for us.

I suspect that once we leave, be that in two years, or twenty years, the place will completely erupt.

Thus the mistake of the war is the gift that will keep on giving.

Beth said...

Why are liberals so negative? It's okay to want things to go well in Iraq you know.

Toad734 said...

Beth,

It is ok, It's also ok to admit that Bush is an idiot and things are worse there than they ever were under Saddam and all his nuclear and chemical weapons he was building, hiding and going to use on the US.

Dave Miller said...

Beth, your question is one with which I have wrestled. It does seem as if libs, myself included, sometimes sound less than positive about certain things political, for instance Iraq.

But let's think about that for a moment. Okay, a few moments.

Were conservatives positive and happy when Bill Clinton was in office? Are they happy and effusive in praise for John McCain?

Simply being positive in the face of factual evidence to the contrary is just fooling yourself.

For instance, strong conservatives who disagree with McCain, for example Dee at Conservatism at Heart, is hardly positive about the upcoming Presidential Elections.

She could ignore the facts, facts that say McCain is more to the liberal side of the GOP ledger. But that would be intellectually dishonest.

Simply hoping for good things does not make them happen, no matter how much we hope.

Simply hoping that the Iraqi's would stop killing people did not make it happen. It took a wholesale repudiation of the Bush war fighting plan and the introduction of more troops. Just as his generals, Sec. Powell, and many others advocated "before the war" said it would.

It takes more than positive thought. It takes real action to affect change. We can hope for the best, but that does not make it happen, for liberals... or conservatives!

Toad734 said...

Dave:

But doesn't that make us realists?

Beth said...

I agree, we cannot just hope things go well and so they will, but when it comes to Iraq, I sometimes get the impression that liberal leaning folks want things to go badly there so they can say "Told you so" to Republicans. I for one do not like to root against America, no matter which party occupies the White House. Was I happy with Bill Clinton in office? No, but I didn't hope for his failure. The phrase cutting off one's nose to spite one's face comes to mind.

Patrick M said...

Toad: Such vitriol when we're looking at the future, not a past that can't be changed. It's no wonder you have problems convincing people you're right about anything.

Toad and Dave: Enough on what is wrong. What are your solutions to Iraq, such as they may be? It's far too easy to point out what we have done wrong. Coming up with a viable solution is a whole lot harder.

Beth: Wow, I go to play with the kids and the liberals gang up on you. Guess I'll have to be more vigilant.

I pose the same question to you: What's the exit strategery?

Toad734 said...

Beth:

It's already gone bad, we have already won that argument. There were no WMDs, war profiteers and Exxon has made billions, Bush has secured his place with one of these companies he has made rich once his term is over, Iraq is fucked.

Just like we said it would be. That time has come and gone. Now we just want to stop spending 500 billion per year there and getting back 500 dead Americans in body bags.

Pat:

So the past doesn't matter and I supposed it doesn't matter that you all still discount the crazies like Obama, Kucinich and Paul along with the Sean Penns and Michael Moores but still trust Republicans like John McCain. If you can't learn from history why even try to do anything. By listening to people like me in the past and not people driven by other motives we wouldn't be in this mess. That sounds pretty convincing to me.

As far as what do we do, how the fuck should I know? Who am I to say what would work, or shall I say, which course will be the least disasterous? I don't know. All I do know is that having our soldiers stand around and wait for someone to blow them up serves no purpose, neither does spending 500 billion per year (unless you are Halliburton or Blackwater). The country is tearing itself a part with us there and it probably wont change when we leave no matter when that happens. So the opposite of all that??

So the obvious choice here is to continue to support the new government and their security forces if they so desire, perhaps even protect their source of revenue (the oil fields and pipe lines) so they can afford to provide services, infrastructure, schools, medicine, pay their troops etc., you know, all the socialist stuff, and take the majority of our troops out of harms way. Oh, and perhaps take out Sadar before we go. And if it does turn into civil war, stay out of it and then deal with the government that emerges, even if its three different governments.

Mike's America said...

A. If Toadbat had his way we would have never gone into Iraq. The consequences of Saddam remaining in power would now be evident and Toadbat would be screaming the loudest asking why we didn't do something.

B. If Toadbat had his way we would have pulled out of Iraq the minute it stopped looking like a cakewalk and the consequences of that would be a rogue state with Al Queda in charge and Toadbat screaming that something needs to be done about it.

C. If Toadbat has his way we will do nothing about Iran and they will continue killing Americans throught the Middle East using Hezbollah as their proxy until finally, they nuke Israel. And Toadbat will be screaming the loudest demandind to know why we didn't stop it.

P.S. What makes Toadbat scream the loudest is that he was so very , VERY wrong about Iraq. Now that Victory is in sight and Iraq can now defend itself, govern itself and be an ally in the war on terror the naysayers have been exposed as the fools they are.

Thank GOD the government has been in the hands of adults for the last 7 years.

Patrick M said...

Mike, Toad: Iraq has been a mixed bag. Here's all things necessaryu, and bullshit free to boot:

Our justification and the necessity of going in will be questioned until we are out. By then, we should have this settled. In that sense, our past actions are not important there right now.

There were many mistakes made, including the initial intelligence, the assumptions of what would happen when we did go in, and our deployment plans for several years.

Saddam is dead. And more important, an assload of terrorists who came to Iraq to fight are dead. Yay.

We have rectified most of our problems and the situation is becoming more and more dependent on the Iraqis. Good.

Finally, it's time to focus on other things (Iran) and stop playing the finger pointing politics.

Toad734 said...

Mike:

Right, Saddam may still be in power and would have been as insignifigant as he was the day we invaded Iraq and still be just as much of a threat to the US as he was the day we invaded Iraq which was zilch. Yes if I had my way we would have put those resources into Afghanistan and would have Bin Laden by now, who by the way, was and still is a threat...You really can't be this stupid.

Al Qaeda would not be in charge with Iraq, in fact, there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq before we got there.

In case you hadn't noticed, were not currently doing anything about Iran, you know, the country that is actually developing nuclear technology.

You moron, you talk about victory in sight, describe victory. What does victory in Iraq mean? And by the way, this victory, was supposed to have happened 5 years and a trillion dollars ago. Don't pretend Bush was some genius if at some point in the next 10 years Iraq can govern itself. I mean, its great that we took out the only secular regime in the middle east and replaced it with a theocracy but gas would b $2.50 per gallon if we would have never gone into Iraq.

So what was I wrong about?

Pat:

An assload of terrorist may be dead but they weren't terrorists until we decided to invade Iraq and by killing them we have created new ones to step in their place. Remember when we got al-Zarqawi, it was supposed to be a big deal, guess what, terrorism and deaths in Iraq didn't diminish one bit after that. YOu kill one another steps in his place. ONly by staying out of their business and cease sending Israel its welfare checks will terrorists stop rising up against us.

When you say focus on Iran, what does that mean? Invade them too?

Patrick M said...

Toad: Let me answer you, then you and Mike can get back to playing Pissing at 20 Paces.

First they were terrorists at heart. So we shoot them. And those that come after, then those who come next, and we keep doing so until they're all dead. It may take decades. It may never end. But at some point they'll stop or die out.

And as for Iran, I think my issues with nation building come in there. Iran is not Iraq, and they do have something of a legitimate government. Plus, they'd ALL start fighting if we sent ground forces in. But they have infrastructure and they have Internet. I don't think we're at the point where we have to invade. Let's hope we don't.

Toad734 said...

Traitor, it almost sounds like you think we should hold discussions with the leadership of Iran. Everyone knows that the only way you can get a nation to do what you want is to bomb them.

Patrick M said...

Toad: Of course we're going to talk to, with, and at Iran. We're doing that now. Unless you mean something along the lines of a state visit, which is what Obama briefly suggested until he realized how dumb that idea was.

The fact is, even when we're on the verge of turning someone's country into a giant sheet of glass, we're communicating with them. What matters is how you talk to them and in what position and posture. Even Mike doesn't have problems talking with the Iranians. It's just easier to conduct diplomacy when you have the bigger gun. Not a position we like to be in, but it beats smooching with commies.

Beth said...

As to the comment that we were suppose to win the war years ago, may I remind you President Bush said a long time ago that the war on terror would be long and hard. Our fast food, high-speed Internet society wants instant gratification these days, and keep forgetting that sometimes good things come to those who wait.

Simply leaving Iraq is not a stratgey for peace, it would be a stragey for disaster. Especially when the surge has proven to be effective.

We need benchmarks, not timelines. And we certainly need to stop arguing about whether we should have gone into Iraq in the first place, really, what good does that do now?

President Bush warned that you are either with us or with the terrorists, I wonder Toad which side you would have put Saddam pre-invasion?

Toad734 said...

Beth:

Bush also said "childrens do learn".

Just because he said you are either with us or the terrorists doesn't mean that is a true statement. There are no absolutes.

The war on Terror was and is in Afghanistan. The people in Iraq weren't terrorists until we turned them into terrorist.

By the way, with your logic, if Iran invaded the U.S. and you fought a guerilla war against them, you would be a terrorist. Then they would waterboard you and stack you up naked and take photos of you but would never "torture" you.

Beth said...

Toad, I was referring to the fact that Saddam was supporting terrorism by paying suicide bombers, and also we have discovered training camps within Iraq for terrorists. That I believe showed the state was sponsoring terrorists before we got there, and properly do belong in the war on terror.