“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Road Home, and The Road Less Travelled

Splashed across yesterday's New York Times's editorial pages:

It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit. . .We can go on allowing Mr. Bush to drag out this war without end or purpose. Or we can insist that American troops are withdrawn as quickly and safely as we can manage — with as much effort as possible to stop the chaos from spreading.

Debating or criticizing the errors, incorrect suppositions, missteps, and false assumptions that turned the occupation and later (attempted) reconstruction into the morass that it is today is low hanging fruit (c.f. most of Congress, the Democratic Presidential candidates, Doonesbury, et al), so the venerable Times opts for cutting the whole tree down, and shredding it in a wood chipper for good measure.

Let's venture into the scenario marginally sketched out in this populist editorial for a moment, and see what the world looks like:

the Pentagon needs enough force to stage effective raids and airstrikes against terrorist forces in Iraq, but not enough to resume large-scale combat. . .Meaningless strategury; this combat force is too big, this one too small, but this package (poised on the airstrip and ready to venture forth from Okinawa or something) is just right. Why advocate utter withdrawal from a besieged nation, where your forces have provided nearly all of the stability and rule of law (marginal though it may be), only to leave military units to strike with little to no effect at the terrorist camps and jihadist vacation areas that sprout in the wake of your departure? The cruise missile strikes of the booming nineties did little to deter Bin Laden and his ilk, or to weaken Sadaam Hussein for that matter. This paragraph was likely inserted after much editorial hand-wringing to appeal to the dozen or so Times subscribers who feel guilt pangs when they ponder abandoning Iraq (whose evil but functioning government we overthrew in 2003). Ignore it and keep reading down. . .

Iraq’s leaders — knowing that they can no longer rely on the Americans to guarantee their survival — might be more open to compromise, perhaps to a Bosnian-style partition, with economic resources fairly shared but with millions of Iraqis forced to relocate. . . Or they might not be willing to compromise (c.f. the former Yugoslavia before intervention, Rwanda, Afghanistan, et al), and a precipitous withdrawal may well lead to an exponentially higher level of death, suffering, and deprivation for the Iraqi people and neighboring countries as well. A responsible editorial page should be critical of wishful thinking disguised as a solution, not proffer it up like it is a sure thing.

One of the trickiest tasks will be avoiding excessive meddling in Iraq by its neighbors — America’s friends as well as its adversaries. . . Tricky indeed, since many of Iraq's neighbors are already meddling in the country, DESPITE the fact 160,000 U.S. troops are there now. The problem of influencing the regional powers and transnational terrorist groups with designs on Iraq only increases with a U.S. withdrawal, and our ability to influence them (or anyone else in the region for that matter) is marginalized. Once again, the Iraqi people (did I mention that the U.S. overthrew their evil but functioning government in 2003 yet?) are left to pay the bill.

The Times could have saved gallons of expensive ink and sold a heck of a bunch more ads by deleting this unreasonable editorial and simply written 'We cannot stand George W. Bush and his stupid Iraq War and want them both to go away, and the sooner the better'. Wishful thinking on their part once again, but at least no one could fault them for their honesty.


  1. I am continually amazed by the idea of leaving Iraq without regard to the future. Even here at the EB, I can't get much response when I ask "What will happen if we leave?" It's as if no one really knows or cares. One thing is for certain though, the war on us will not be over just because we leave Iraq.

    On the other hand, how do we define victory in Iraq?

  2. No one dislikes the war in Iraq than I do, but we are there and it is no longer a choice of should we have or not. I simply do not see how we can exit without leaving a disaster behind. Every scenario I go through ends up with us having to come back. The problem as I see it is that we have committed ourselves to an unlikely outcome. The best that can be hoped for is stability and that will take alot more form the Iraqis and neighboring states.

  3. On the previous thread desert rat said...

    westhawk, writing under the nom de plum Robert Haddick asks the very real question "Will America Stand By While Chaos Swirls?", at TCS Daily

    Mr. Haddick points out that the television images beamed around the world will be of US soldiers standing idly by as the carnage devolves to new lows. The question is will the fundamentalist jihadi world be reinvigorated by their perceived victory? And if so, will they allow US to remain in Kuwait as Haddick says? And what about Afghanistan? Does anyone believe that there will be any more will to stay there? I don't think so, first we retreat from Iraq and the dominos of Pakistan and Afghanistan fall into the hands of the death cult. I know by using the domino analogy I invite the SE Asia example of Vietnam but we're talking about irrational people, the death cult bent not on reuniting a country but world domination. I could be wrong, I know that but before we all decide to say to hell with Iraq, the country needs to know the possible consequences of staying or leaving.

  4. PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A Florida soldier who enlisted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks plans to sue the military, fighting his fifth order to combat, according to a Local 6 report.
    Twenty-six-year-old Erik Botta, who is a Port St. Lucie reservist, signed up for the service days after the Sept. 11 attacks. He did a tour in Afghanistan and three in Iraq, but he said enough is enough.
    Botta plans to file suit this week, asking for an exemption or delay so that he can complete his engineering studies.

  5. As the Senate debate began, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee arranged to run television commercials in four states, beginning Tuesday, to pressure Republicans on the war.

    The ads are to run in Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire, according to knowledgeable officials, but the DSCC so far has committed to spending a relatively small amount of money, less than $100,000 in all. Barring a change in plans that means the ads would not be seen widely in any of the four states.

    The targets include Sens. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Collins of Maine, Sununu of New Hampshire and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. All face re-election next year.

    Missed all Targets

  6. With or without the US, I just can't see Federal Iraq holding together. Once the Iraq Federal Project is dead and buried, so is the problem of the Sunni Arab insurgency and the Sunni Arab insurgents that make up the insurgency.

  7. This is why I'm so Goddamned mad at Dubya. He let that idiotic fucking open borders, bullshit immigration bill sap what little support he had left. Now, at a time when we dearly need leadership, he's in position to offer absolutely NONE.

    This is a Really Tough Call, right now. What most of us want to do is, almost certainly, not the Right thing to do. There has never in the history of the world been an uglier bunch of worthless motherfuckers than the bunch that's in charge of Iraq, right now. Every bone in your body screams to let the motherfuckers sink, now.

    We need a strong, respected leader; and, we've got a moron that pissed away what credibility he had left trying to turn NA into Euro-land.


  8. "The Late Great U.S.A. is a real winner that sounds a clarion call to this nation. This book uncovers the careful deceptions of a powerful elite who want to undermine our sovereignty before we realize it.

    I consider this a must read for every American," said Hal Lindsey, best-selling author of "The Late Great Planet Earth."

    "Dr. Corsi has 'connected the dots' between the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the sale of toll roads and other infrastructure to foreign companies, and proposals for a North American Union with open borders between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. 'The Late Great U.S.A.' is an essential read for anyone concerned about the future independence and sovereignty of the United States," added Phyllis Schlafly, president of the Eagle Forum.

    Sovereignty Endangered

  9. I am amazed by the people who, from one side of their mouth, advocate (or have advocated) U.S. intervention into humanitarian disasters, civil wars, genocide, and the like in the midst of the crises, and yet propose courses of action in places like Iraq that will lead to such events. Is a difficult, unpopular course for the nation acceptable ONLY if one's favored politician or party proposes it?

    The one bit of silver lining on this cloud is that the New York Times is no longer as relevant to the political dialogue as it once was. Good riddance to those days.

    Whether it advocates withdrawal, escalation, intervention, or the like, the fact is that fewer and fewer people are reading the Times' editorial section, and even fewer people than that care what the editors have to say.