May 28, 2004

General Clark in TNR

Now, a commercial for a leftist rag.

You should subscribe to The New Republic. It’s $20/year for a digital subscription. Liberals will find some very intelligent criticisms of the Bush administration, looks at progressive candidates and politicians. And Conservatives: Machiavelli and Sun Tzu both agree on “Know Thy Enemy.” The writing is pretty intelligent.

This week, they print the most insane piece of drivel on Iraq you’ll see. It’s a guest piece from General Wesley Clark. For me it makes Senator Kerry look good. In the same issue, though, they also print an astute and insightful (mirabile non dictu) piece from VDH. Side by side, a stirring argument of ideas.

I’m not going to “fisk” General Clark’s article. Just the hits:

But today, 14 months later, the mission is in shambles, scarred by rising Iraqi popular discontent, continued attacks against U.S. forces, infiltration of foreign fighters, mounting civil strife, and no credible sense of direction.

Shambles is a loaded term. All of his points are very subjective and I would disagree with each of them.

American public opinion has clearly turned against the mission. Some have already pronounced it a failure. Others, giving up on the idea of a unified Iraq, are seeking to salvage some measure of success by suggesting we break up the country, a proposal that would implicitly reward the Kurds--and invite more trouble later. Still others suggest that we reduce our ultimate objective from Iraqi democracy to Iraqi stability. All the critics warn that, if we don't change direction, we are headed for failure.

“Some,” “others,” “still others,” and “all the critics” Quite a lineup – I would hate it if some thought jk was very stupid, others think he dresses funny, still others find his guitar playing trite, and all his critics disregard his economic views.

While our troops should help secure the borders and handle internal threats that are too large for the still-nascent Iraqi forces, they should, as soon as possible, stop policing the country for one simple reason: They're not very good at it. Instead, we need to involve Middle Eastern countries and the larger international community in building a unified Iraq with a representative government that doesn't threaten its neighbors or serve as a magnet for Al Qaeda recruiting and that exerts enough control to ensure domestic stability and promote economic development.

First a quick swipe at the troops from the former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Well, at least he has a plan. Neighboring Arab countries and the UN will lead this inchoate nation to democracy! I mean, that’s what they do, don’t they? It’s funny that President Bush hadn’t thought of this…

First, the United States must correct the "dynamic of conflict" that it has injected into the region. In essence, the Bush administration has scared Iran and Syria into believing that, if the United States is successful in its occupation of Iraq, they will be the next targets. To the Iranians and Syrians, the implication is that their survival depends on dragging the U.S. mission in Iraq into failure. Furthermore, America's perceived pro-Israel bias, and its failure to engage seriously in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has fed the poisonous atmosphere fueling Arab anger toward the United States and its efforts in Iraq.

For thousands of years, these people all lived like brothers, then the US injected a dynamic of conflict onto the region. It really sucks that Syria and Iran are scared. If we had those two human-rights champions on our side…And why hasn’t President Bush turned Yasser Arafat into Saint Frances yet? What gives with that?

Thus far, the Bush administration has been unable to win much backing from European and Middle Eastern states, but addressing fears of U.S. hegemony and spurring the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will help dispel Arab anger and enhance U.S. credibility in the region and abroad…

Has not inspired those shining beacons of human freedom to support Iraqi liberation – man that must be our fault!

Then he proposes a Bosnia-style diplomatic solution for Iraq (fight the last war much?), fights a straw-man about Kurdish independence that nobody’s drumming for (I’d be receptive) and closes like he opened, fatuously and prevaricative:

The last thing we want to do in Iraq is stay the course. We must make a substantial course correction--immediately. What is ultimately at risk in Iraq is not just the future of the Iraqi people, but regional stability in the Middle East and U.S. influence and security itself. Intervening in Iraq a year ago was optional--and, in my view, unnecessary. But we now have no choice about whether to succeed: We must.

We must cut and run – history demands it!

Posted by jk at May 28, 2004 07:22 AM
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