The Therapy Sessions
Friday, December 09, 2005
The Arab civil war
I've said this many times before, but I never seen it expressed so eloquently (Via Best Of The Web):
Writing in the liberal New Republic, Harvard law prof William Stuntz draws an interesting analogy between Iraq and the Civil War:
Toppling Saddam and seizing his chemical and biological weapons probably wasn't worth the sacrifice of 2,000-plus American lives (as long as nuclear weapons weren't in the picture). Similarly, control over the Mississippi wasn't worth the bloodletting across the length of the Confederacy's border that took place in Lincoln's first term.
Thankfully, Lincoln saw to it that the war's purpose changed. George W. Bush has changed the purpose of his war too, though the change seems more the product of our enemies' choices than of Bush's design. By prolonging the war, Zarqawi and his Baathist allies have drawn thousands of terrorist wannabes into the fight--against both our soldiers and Muslim civilians. When terrorists fight American civilians, as on September 11, they can leverage their own deaths to kill a great many of us. But when terrorists fight American soldiers, the odds tilt towards our side.
Equally important, by bringing the fight to a Muslim land, by making that land the central front of the war on Islamic terrorism, the United States has effectively forced Muslim terrorists to kill Muslim civilians. That is why the so-called Arab street is rising--not against us but against the terrorists, as we saw in Jordan after Zarqawi's disastrous hotel bombing.
The population of the Islamic world is choosing sides not between jihadists and Westerners, but between jihadists and people just like themselves. We are, slowly but surely, converting bin Laden's war into a civil war--and that is a war bin Laden and his followers cannot hope to win.
Yes, this war stinks.
I hate seeing all the lives that have been cut short by its horrors. I read the stories of shattered lives almost masochisticly, reminding myself all the time that good people are dead because of the war I have supported from the outset.
I remind myself that Iraq was just as violent before this war; it is only that the gunshots were muffled and the victims were silent. People who think Iraq was at peace prior to the war need to take a good look at the hundreds of thousands of boides that fill the mass graves of Iraq.
I'll take responsibility for the dead of the war.
But for just once, I'd like to see them take responsibility for the dead of the peace.
They weren't silent about these dead before the war. Organizations that screamed about "5000 children a month dying in Iraq" under the UN's Oil For Food Program are today decrying the war that ended that senseless loss of life.
But enough of the past. We are here now: the only way Al Qaeda can win is if we give up, and the price of that will eventually be far worse for the US.
We couldn't see the effect that our retreat from Somalia would have on Al Qaeda in 1993: they became the heroes of the Arab world, and our reticence in acting against them led directly to September 11th.
So we cannot see the effect that our withdraw would have on them now.
It may be politically expedient.
After all, Americans would love to go back to halycon days before September 11th. The biggest news in Washington was Gary Condit, everyone wanted to meet Regis and get their chance to be a millionaire, Pets.com was a company worth billions, and people fretted over whether there were too many shark attacks in Florida.
Nobody was paying attention to the murderous regimes in the Middle East. Osama was biding his time unmolested in an outlaw state.
Political expediency does not make withdrawal right. Or smart.