Karl Gallagher (libertarianhawk) wrote,
Karl Gallagher

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That's a picture from the Move America Forward rally in Dallas I'm the guy near the center, holding a sign. It says "WE MUST WIN IN IRAQ" and got a good response from people. That "MUST" sums up my attitude and explains why I'm not taking seriously most of the noise over General Petraeus's report.

Most of the people saying "We're losing and the price is too high!" opposed invading Iraq in the first place. The ones delighted with reports of success consider Iraq just one part of an integrated global war. None of the facts Petraeus delivered are doing a damn thing to resolve that disagreement.

The argument in the USA is over assumptions. Islamofascist terrorism is a growing menace that wants to replace democracy with sharia law worldwide, or it's symptom of other issues that will randomly cause damage if not intensified by our actions. Our strategy for dealing with it should be to change the repressive order of the Arab nations, or isolate ourselves to minimize the provocations we make*.

Pick one set of assumptions and you get a policy for Iraq. I think the technological run-up to the Singularity provides such powerful weapons that the "Death to America" crowds can't be ignored and must be dealt with before they stumble on a way to shatter our nation. Given the alternatives--isolation, empire, genocide, and liberation--I favor liberating Arabs so they can have better things to do with their lives than launching suicide attacks on children**. Given those assumptions, some place has to be first and Iraq is a logical choice. I've never expected it to be quick, easy, cheap, or clean. We've tried different strategies. If Petraeus's doesn't work we can try another, or bring more resources to bear***. But avoiding the other options, and avoiding defeat, is worth a lot of American blood and treasure.

For someone with the opposite assumptions liberating Iraq could be a good thing if it can be done effortlessly, or for some a bad thing because it would enrage otherwise placid Arabs into becoming terrorists. Either way the invasion was a bad idea and no amount of hopeful signs now would change their mind.

That's the important dispute. Until we settle it the other arguments are just noise.

* Yes, there's a bunch of other strategies suggested, from a laser-beam focus on killing Osama as the end of our problems to the "nuke them now and get it over with" spasm. I'm concentrating on the most seriously advocated ones.

** True Jeffersonian democracy for Iraq would be nice, but what's needed is to provide useful choices for young men and eliminate the repression-driven anger that regimes deflect outwards. Something like 1950s South Korea, 1980s Mexico, or modern Turkey would be a success.

*** Keeping more troops in Iraq would require increasing the size of the Army, yes. I've been advocating that since 2002 and don't think a draft would be necessary or even helpful.
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