Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pretty Lady Has No Opinion

Pretty Lady is a firm believer in not deciding upon matters which are outside her ken. She is not, and never has been, a soldier, military leader, military historian, or participant in active combat. (Ghetto streets do not particularly qualify; in any case, when pushed to it, she has acquitted herself poorly.) Truth be told, she does not even know how to fire a gun; she leaves such things to her much-trusted little brother.

But when deciding upon action to take in a circumstance of dire import, she believes in Listening to the Experts; these experts include those who are most closely involved in, and affected by, the circumstances at hand. This is why she is bringing to your attention a recent Salon article about the War in Iraq, and a little New Yorker piece which explores the same theme.

The Salon article examines a growing protest movement within the active-duty military stationed in Iraq, which is formally and courteously registering some extreme reservations about continued purpose there:

"Joining the Marine Corps was one of the best decisions I've ever
made," Madden told me over dinner in Washington, about a 45-minute
drive from his post at Quantico, Va. But he harshly criticized what he
considers to be a botched strategy -- along with the shifting rationale
for the war, its high human toll and the poor prognosis for success. He
said there is "an implied trust" between soldier and government that
the military will not be ordered into a dubious, costly adventure.
"When it becomes blatantly evident that you are being exploited then it
is justified for those in the military to dissent," Madden said. "This
war is not right."
The New Yorker piece focuses upon a meeting of top military minds who openly and honestly discuss the situation, and possible options for coping; unfortunately, these top military minds do not include the White house.

The President’s Iraq war is lost. Plan A—a unified and democratic
Iraq that will be a model in the region—is no longer achievable. The
civil war for which the Administration will not consider new responses
is already at hand. Because no one in power can admit any of this, the
United States is in the position of trying to hold still while the
ground shifts violently underfoot. The resistance to thinking about
Plans B, C, and D means not only that this country remains stuck while
Americans and Iraqis die but that its ability to affect events six or
twelve months away is rapidly diminishing.

In the Brookings war game, the mock National Security Council, functioning the way the National Security Council should, responded to the deterioration in Iraq by making certain decisions, and then responded to the consequences of those decisions. By the end of the day, American policy had shifted from the President’s “democracy agenda” to a focus on stabilizing Baghdad and bringing the warring parties to the conference table, to an effort to stem the flow of refugees, to a policy of countering Iranian domination of Iraq. By that point, the American forces were out of Baghdad and positioned along Iraq’s borders and in Kurdistan. It was the revenge of Realpolitik. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs reminded the committee that the new policy meant greatly increased casualties among Iraqis and “a terrible loss for U.S. prestige, credibility, and legitimacy.” But, in an atmosphere of critical thinking and open debate, the officials had to accept it.

Pretty Lady has never been particularly an Activist. Standing in the streets and screaming simplistic, self-righteous phrases has ever seemed to her to be a singularly ineffective means of promoting communication, goodwill, and responsible decision-making in political matters. What impresses her about these movements is the judicious courtesy with which they are put forward, as well as the credentials of those involved.

She invites your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

We were never going to win. We're a large politically correct military and civilian bureaucracy who has no chance of moving fast enough to deal with insurgents who are constantly changing. The Roman army would have won this very quickly, but we don't have the stomach for that (at least so far). It was never going to be decided militarily.

From the beginning everything hinged on getting the Iraqi army (in the role of the Roman army) up and running the country... but success breeds contempt, and we had lots of both (success and contempt) early on. So the Busheviks decided that we could have it all with our God like powers. The end is inevitable and their will likely be hundreds of thousands of (soon to be) dead Iraqis and Afghans who will pay for our fuzzy thinking. Nation building is for chumps.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think the Romans would have suppressed it but they could never have truly won short of exterminating the entire population which would have been extremely time consuming and also would have greatly reduced the profitability of the region.


Anonymous said...

They don't have anything but oil to offer.

Anonymous said...

The Iraq's are spoiling for a fight, warlords (in this case imams), fighters, rebels, whatever. THAT is nation building. you have to let them build their own nation. We tried giving them western style government and it is failing. LET them fight it out. You follow european governments and thats how they built their own nations, through war.

But that's cruel. Well, yes I would agree. But Iraq is going through a power struggle. The present government is trying to hang on to their power, and there are the imams who want to take it away from them. Religeon is used, but thats now what this is about.