Tuesday, June 01, 2004

And in other news, we're winning.

Andrew Sullivan posted a very good question today...and about time. I quote in its entirety:
"If someone had said in February 2003, that by June 2004, Saddam Hussein would have been removed from power and captured; that a diverse new government, including Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, would be installed; that elections would be scheduled for January 2005; and that the liberation of a devastated country of 25 million in which everyone owns an AK-47 had been accomplished with an army of around 140,000 with a total casualty rate (including accidents and friendly fire) of around 800; that no oil fields had been set aflame; no WMDs had been used; no mass refugee crises had emerged; and no civil war had broken out... well, I think you would come to the conclusion that the war had been an extraordinary success. And you'd be right. Yes, there are enormous challenges; and yes, so much more could have been achieved without incompetence, infighting and occasional inhumanity. But it's worth acknowledging that, with a little perspective, our current gloom is over-blown. Stocks in Iraq have been way over-sold. I even regret some minor sells myself. Now watch the media do all it can to accentuate the negative."

I particularly liked his own admission that he himself got squeamish... he did, a number of times, and it pissed me off. I like sober analysis, particularly critical ones; but when anyone starts proclaiming the war has been lost and all hope has failed, I just roll my eyes. And at times, Andrew did just that. Here however, as he more often does, Sullivan puts things in proper perspective and things look pretty good. Notice, however, that he still can't help but feel that "so much more could have been achieved without incompetence...". Sorry, but I just don't get that. Let's not equate mistakes, human imperfection and the unpredictability of war with incompetence. What has been done to date in Iraq is extraordinarily competent, in my opinion. That it is hard and messy is more a truism about such conflicts than an indictment on our abilities...though there are many who obviously like to make the latter point. Despite massive setbacks and casualties (on the order of 800 soldiers every two days), I don't think anyone would ever characterize what we accomplished in Europe or Asia in WWII 'okay' but how much more would have been accomplished but for our 'incompetence'. That people say such things today about Iraq results not only from our proximity to the conflict but also from the influence of those who want this administration to fail desparately.

It is too early to say what we have in Iraq is a clear victory. I think that, despite hardship, loss and harsh realities, things there are actually quite good and the possibilities for the future are encouraging. Yet we really won't know for sometime. It will take years before we will see the fruits of this remarkable labor. But the same holds true for those who so quickly would proclaim defeat. They have no idea what the future holds and what the ultimate outcome will be. None. And with every instance that they ignore important victories in favor of apparent setbacks (or mischaracterize the former as the latter), the efficacy of their opinions become ever more questionable.


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