Thursday, July 26, 2007

Introducing the Blog-o-mat: Some questions for the reader

As I near the end of an engaging but tough course on environmental law and policy, I’ve regrettably let the weeds grow up around The Influence Machine. Rather than yet another post of accidental art or what amounts to a "Will return in…" sign, I’ll turn intellectual control of the blog over to the reader for a while. I am well-aware that this is analogous to when banks got rid of most of their tellers, installed ATMs, but still charged everyone the same fees (or more) for self-service. To the reader, whether well-read and opinionated or casual and curious, I pose these questions and ask for comment:

Can the United States win the war in Iraq? If so, how do you define victory? How do you think the US can achieve that? What happens to the Iraqis and the region if the US withraws in the immediate future?


twotymer97 said...
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twotymer97 said...

Our idea of victory would be have to be defined by the United States' ability to exit from Iraq with its traditional values intact, while maintaining our position as a dominant world power. This exit can in no way be interpreted as a retreat or as a forfeit of our good intentions for Iraq and its people.

Unilateral victory must include Iraq's ability to police and govern itself. This would have to recognize that the Iraqi’s idea of just government may in no way resemble our present judicial methodology. This acceptance of Iraq’s sovereignty may require turning a blind eye to the potential repeat of atrocities committed due to racial and religious/political feuds that have existed for centuries.

At this point in the war, it is clear that the Iraqi's are perhaps decades away from achieving a level of civilized society and government such as we enjoy in the here in the Western World. The Middle East is has, for centuries, been a region of violent instability; we must recognize the possibility of collapse or overthrow of any potential ruling body. We must be ready to deal with any outcome of such a collapse that could threaten the security of the United States and its allies.

The only alternative would be a complete overthrow of the Iraqi government and liquidation of the destructive elements of Iraqi culture, coupled with forced adherence to liberal Western values and an equitable justice system.

The reality of achieving an acceptable level of support for either option seems improbable.

But don't take our word for it-we're just a couple of optimistic little American girls!

Optimistically Yours,

Charise and Michele

Pat Jenkins said...

the oppostitons ambigous question of how is victory defined erd, and each may define it differntly. success can only be measured on the meeted objectives of the goal. a democracy in the middle east. done. an american presence creating stabilty in the region. (which has been quite frequently demanded) done. the only failure of this engagement has been the inability to curtail bombers who have themselves killed innocences beyond compare. for failure they are to blame.

E. R. Dunhill said...

Charise and Michele,
Thank you for such an articulate comment on the situation in Iraq. I understand where you’re coming from with the goal of the US maintaining its dignity and its principals in the exist strategy, but I wonder if this is still possible. Having recently been in Europe (and from reading Le Monde on an off-and-on basis), I can say from my own limited experience that anti-American sentiments are deep and wide, at present. I’m not sure our detractors will interpret any exit favorably at this point, nor do they want us to remain in-theater. A conundrum, that.
I also agree with you that the US will have to respect Iraqi sovereignty. This may mean a completely new flavor of democracy, or quite possibly some brand of socialism. Broadly socialized public wealth has served other Gulf states fairly well. I also think that the US, Iraq, and other interested parties need to once again address the possibility of a multi-state solution. It may be necessary to undo the clumsy boundaries that the Brits drew in cobbling together Iraq.
With respect to "…liquidation of the destructive elements of Iraqi culture, coupled with forced adherence to liberal Western values and an equitable justice system.": This sounds like a recipe for WW3. I think any such effort would be interpreted as a war against Islam.
Thank for reading.

E. R. Dunhill said...

The question of defining victory in Iraq is not an ambiguous one; the situation is ambiguous, and the question seeks to disambiguate it. And, while I wholeheartedly agree with you that everyone is entitled to their opinion on how victory should be defined, I think a clear set of objective, measurable goals are essential to any outcome that might be called success.
Regarding your assertion that democracy is “done” in Iraq, I have to disagree. The Iraqi government is tenuous at best. Beyond the bureaucratic and legal machine that they are still creating, the government is plagued by infighting as well as fiscal and external pressures that could easily cause its collapse. I think the work of building a stable, sovereign state is just beginning, and its entirely possible that all parties involved may have to start with a clean slate.
I agree with you that the insurgency is a central destabilizing influence, but I think the broader Iraqi civil war cannot be discounted. Also, these factors may be the problems, but I’m not sure how the US will claim "victory" without being a huge part of solving them.