The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Monday, July 11, 2005

OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM IN IRAQ

...is that we are in two simultaneous struggles there, with contradictory strategies required to accomplish each.

One the one hand, we're promoting democracy, and in this struggle, at this stage, it is better for us to recede into the background, even perhaps to have the new Iraqi government know that we'll be leaving soon, leading them to apply greater focus to their efforts in drafting a Constitution and such.

On the other hand, we're fighting "terrorists". Iraq, as Bush often says, has become "a central front in the war on terror." We're fighting them there "so we don't have to face them at home." This is the so-called "flypaper" strategy. For it to work, we must assume two things. 1) There are finite numbers of Al Qaeda terrorists and their sympathizers. Hmm. And 2) We'll be in Iraq for quite a while.

Is the second strategy compatible with the first?

When I say all this, it's important to note that our administration, foolishly, didn't expect to be in that second struggle, either right now or at all. ("We'll be greeted as liberators", "a statue of Bush in Baghdad", "no history of ethnic strife in Iraq", etc) They can't say we didn't warn them.

Remember that book expo in LA from early 2003, the one where Bill O'Reilly told Al Franken to "shut up! SHUT UP!"? Yes, we were all amused. Well, Molly Ivins was on the panel as well, promoting her book Bushwhacked. She was asked by the moderator how she thought the impending Iraq invasion would go, and she said "It'll be a 3-week invasion and then the peace from hell." At which point O'Reilly gave her one of his textbook sneers. (though thankfully, not one of his textbook falafels)

We knew that from a security standpoint we could be tied up in the area for a decade or more, and they clapped their hands like Peter Pan reviving Tink. Now we have two problems when our administration said there would be only one, solving both of them requires contradictory strategies, and with the guys who got us into this still running the show, we may well not solve either.

(And by the way, George W Bush's policies since 9/11/01 have guaranteed that there will always be many more terrorists than our armed forces can kill.)

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