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February 8, 2004

I've often agreed with the views of Thomas Friedman, one of the columnists over at the NY Times. In one of his latest articles in the Times, he talks about the Bush team basically intent on fighting the war alone -- both in a domestic and a global sense. Friedman isn't bothered by the fact of going to war. Like me, he feels it was justified, if for different reasons than what Bush claimed. However, what disturbs him is the seeming lack of a "morning after" plan. He mentions that both sides of the Atlantic erred, and that now is the time to just patch things up and help each other. I think I'm a bit guilty at not worrying too much about the plan after the war, perhaps like Bush; however, I also don't think things are as big a disaster as some say. Democracies don't just happen overnight; nor in a year. But as the article states, having support from other countries will give the effort more strength, finance, and credibility.

Posted by charr at 10:51 AM
Reader Comments

Well, I think Iraq is currently in a state of disaster, but not to the point where all hope is lost. I think a great number of people who initially supported the war were surprised at how long it's taken for things to settle down. We never really got any realistic timelines from the White House, at least not that anyone listened to, as far as I know. I'm not sure whether Bush expected the current state of things or not, but he would have had to be very naive not to, and he might have mentioned it as a likely possibility before going in gung-ho.I agree that we need help from other nations. That was another of my main concerns when Bush pushed the war the way he did. If we'd got support from the international community beforehand, they would already be committed to helping clean up the mess. I was never wholly against the idea of attacking Iraq; I was, however, stronly opposed to the way it ended up happening. The means are sometimes as important as the ends.

Posted by Levi at February 8, 2004 9:55 PM

I think that Iraq is certainly unsettled right now, but I think 'disaster' may be too strong a word for it. How long did it take to prop up Germany and Japan? Quite a long time. I don't think it's reaonable to expect to be able to do the same for Iraq in such a short time. And we had help from the international community going into Iraq. It makes me so angry when people say that we unilaterally went into this. It wasn't unilateral. Unilateral means that we did it alone. We didn't. What about the help we've had from other countries? 19 members of NATO agreed with us. Three did not. How is that unilateral? How is that not having help from the international community? And we do a great disservice to the countries that have helped us by ignoring thier contributions.

Posted by Jan at February 9, 2004 6:01 AM

Jan you are right that we did have support from some other countries, namely England and Australia when we went to battle. Now, we have troops from many nations there. However, the vast majority of the troops are American, and despite the fact that there are other troops, it is viewed as an American occupation. Having significant numbers of troops from some of the other countries, and perhaps some UN involvement would help resolve that.

Posted by Cameron at February 9, 2004 7:47 AM

The latest car bombings are the worst yet. I don't know what the answer is. Marshall law? How can peace be restored? I suspect that even with an elected government, there are groups there that would continue to wreak havok.

Posted by Renee at February 11, 2004 8:11 AM

Security is an issue, and I agree with the US officials about that in the upcoming elections. The apparent Queda-operative's document shows that they are trying to sow insecurity and fear. Their plan is to attack the Shiites and create a civil jihad.

Posted by Cameron at February 11, 2004 8:32 AM

Not to justify his atrocities, but this very issue is likely why Saddam was ruling his people with an iron fist. They don't really get along when you're not threatening them with a severe beating. I don't know if we have the resources to impose a strict marshal law, and even if we did, they'd still be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The average person certainly wouldn't appreciate it, either.Germany and Japan didn't have long-standing internal conflicts between ethnic groups and religious fundamentalist factions. They had significantly different cultures. They were actually making war with a good portion of the world before getting smacked down and were rebuilt with far more world support. I don't think they're great examples for direct comparison with Iraq.

Posted by Levi at February 11, 2004 9:14 AM

Levi, that's it exactly. Germany and Japan weren't rebuilt in a short time (it took years) and they didn't have all the internal strife. So why do some people expect Iraq to magically become stable overnight (when they do have internal problems)?

Posted by Jan at February 11, 2004 11:12 AM

There's an article here by David Brooks that points out Bush's _possible_ thought process. I think it's worth reading, and I like what he points out in the end: if in _20_ years , Iraq is a stable Democracy, no one will doubt that he did the right thing.I still think some UN support might help the image that's it's not an imperialistic venture (which I don't believe). However, even with the violence, I think things will continue to get better. The majority of the violence can't be blamed on the Americans -- rather rebel insurgents.

Posted by Cameron at February 11, 2004 11:40 AM

I don't know why they expected it to be easy. A lot of people knew it wouldn't be, and thus opposed the war on those grounds. Indeed, this was part of my opposition to the war, along with the fact that I didn't believe for a moment that Iraq was a credible direct threat to us. Again, the reality of it was never presented to us very clearly by the White House. Sometimes I think they believed it would be relatively quick and easy, but maybe that was just media filtering or something. In any case, I think it was reckless and irresponsible to act in the manner we did, regardless of evidence of Iraq's wrongdoing. What's even more frustrating to me is that it would now be incredibly irresponsible to just pull out, so we're stuck sinking more and more money and lives into it. How many people would have supported this war if we knew up front how many billions of dollars, years of time, and American lives it would cost? Shouldn't we have at least had a good estimate up front? But all we got were cries about impending chemical weapon doom, and the necessity of taking immediate action. Am I the only one that sees this as irresponsible and a betrayal of trust on the part of our leadership?

Posted by Levi at February 11, 2004 12:01 PM

I think betrayal of trust is a bit strong, but I agree that they should have presented a more responsible case of front -- both of the reasons to going to war and the buildup afterwards. However, even with that, I was never really concerned with a threat they might attack, but saw other (little-mentioned) reasons to replace Saddam.

Posted by Cameron at February 11, 2004 12:07 PM

I don't think that the White House ever presented reconstruction of Iraq as quick or easy, so I'm not sure how they supposedly misled us about that. I will agree that they more or less avoided the issue of reconstruction, but I don't see it as a betrayal of trust. I see it more as a crossing of wires.As for the reasons why we went to war, well, I don't feel betrayed by the leadership in that either. That is more than a bit strong. I do have some regret about the way the situation was handled, though. I wish they had been clearer as to why speed was so necessary. In many cases they left us to connect the dots ourselves, which I think was a major PR blunder at the very least. And I think that they didn't share enough intelligence with us, to clue us in to thier thought process. Or at least they could have told us thier thought process themselves. So, we were left out of that process, which in hindsight was a mistake. I understand that they didn't want politics to get in the way of the process (which it would have), but they could have been a little more up front. Something I found interesting: I read the other day that people had these same misgivings about Germany and Japan. And they used many of the same arguments we're using.

Posted by Jan at February 11, 2004 1:47 PM

Yeah, but Germany and Japan were actively going out and attacking other countries. They went and started a world war by their aggression. Our involvement there was direct response to aggression against us in the case of Japan, and response to aggression against our allies in the case of Germany. How does that compare directly to Iraq? How do we justfiy preemptive aggression against a nation who was not currently offering a credible threat to us? Where's the precedent for that?I agree that there were good reasons to remove Saddam. I don't agree that they were worth the tremendous cost in money, lives, and international reputation. I trust the government to make sound decisions. I find the decision to attack Iraq unsound, and therefore a betrayal of my trust in the government. I don't think it's an overly strong assessment at all.The whole point of our government, with checks and balances and all that, is precicely so that politics will get in the way of action. I am a strong supporter of that principle, especially when it comes to wars of aggression.

Posted by Levi at February 11, 2004 3:08 PM

I think I've been misunderstood. Twice.I wasn't comparing the reasons we attacked Germany and Japan with Iraq. I was comparing the reconstruction of Germany and Japan with Iraq.When I said 'politics' I didn't mean the political process of checks and balances. I meant the manuevering and posturing that goes on in front of the camera for political gain. Democrats have made no secret that they want 'anyone but Bush.' They are, at this very moment, selecting a presidential candidate based on whether or not he can beat Bush; they're not basing thier selection on anything but that. Can you believe that, with that mentality, they're going to work with Bush on anything? Honestly, I don't trust them anymore to do what's right for the country because of this mindset: they're going to protest anything Bush does whether or not it's a good idea just because they don't want him in office. That's what I meant by Bush wanting to avoid politics. I should have said that he wanted to avoid political posturing and manuevering by an opposition that has nothing more in mind than 'taking back the White House.' Dangit. I hate being put in the position of defending Republicans.

Posted by Jan at February 12, 2004 4:39 AM

I never had any arguments against reconstruction, except that I didn't think it was necessary to blow it up in the first place. I'm just lamenting the fact that we're stuck with it now when it could (and should, I think) have been avoided for now.Bush should be behaving with the best interests of the country and the world in mind, not his political career. To some extent, I'm sure he is, but I worry that repeatedly sticking our hands in a hornet's nest is a bad idea. Democrats want to remove him because (among other things) they feel his strategy of democratizing the Middle East is wrong and extremely dangerous, and that he will continue to pursue it if left in office. Concentrating their campaign on removing him (which will probably mean electing someone who is moderate enough to capture enough of the conservative vote rather than a total lefty idealist) is a logical response to that position. I don't totally agree with this position, but I don't think it's unreasonable.Anyway, as our attempts to meet the debate points of one another seem to keep missing the mark, leading us around in rhetorical circles, I hereby make an end of my arguments.

Posted by Levi at February 12, 2004 9:14 AM

Yeah, I think we've been talking past each other for a while. I'm done, too.

Posted by Jan at February 12, 2004 10:22 AM

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