Friday, August 26, 2005

A Little Thing We Call Realism

At the risk of seeming like a nonstop pimp for the General, this Op-Ed is fantastic. Some of you may wish to shop my (admittedly dubious) liberal cred after this, but I'm not generically anti-war. I'm actually a rather fervent interventionist. Sometimes you need to give peace a chance, and sadly sometimes you actually do need to beat the plowshares back into Bradley Fighting Plows. I fully supported Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan -- my main bitch with the last being that we needed to stay there and do it right, not bugger off and leave it unfinished. I think we should be in Darfur. With the right alliance and leadership in place, one could sweet talk me into invading North Korea. (Yep, that's the sound of my friends' jaws dropping)

My main problem with the IraqWar2 always was that it was obviously going to be a brutal reconstruction, and nobody seemed to be talking about that. I'm not against armed intervention; I'm against armed intervention by people who I suspect will fuck it up. Badly.

In this, Wes Clark points out how grown-ups pursue multi-pronged plans of attack on their enemies, details how the Administration failed to do so, and how those compounding failures have led us to the point where we may have no alternative to pulling out, not from loss of nerve but because, strategically, there's not much more we can do with the manpower available, and that manpower's in a bad spot.

You can always ask the American public to show resolve in support of a detailed strategy. You cannot ask the American public to make that resolve take the place of a nonexistent strategy.

There are a million ways to paraphrase this, but I can only urge you to read the article. (Kos has a pretty good summary if you haven't the time.) I don't much like to write about specific policy here, keeping my commentary on satires/rants on larger societal issues, but I feel this is worth at least a pointer.

Wes Clark needs to be President. At the very least he should be Vice-President to a more domestically oriented nominee (although he does have a degree in economics, he can handle that stuff). I can only urge some of my disaffected Republican friends to examine his website and look around. This is the internationally savvy yet centered, pragmatic type of man who you thought you'd have as a candidate when you became GOP. My liberal friends -- there's no waffling here, his policies are the progressive policies of personal rights and privacy, and he's able to distill his opinions down into common sense with insight and, thank Christ, humor.

I've pre-ordered my bumper stickers.


Justin Cognito said...

If they take your cred away, John, they'll have to rip mine away, too. I'm a big-ass interventionist, myself. Hell, I was actually for this war when it started. Mind you, I didn't buy any of Bush's excuses for a second, but I thought, "Ah, well. As long as we're stopping the oppression of innocents." And we did... and exposed them to wide-scale terrorism because we didn't have a reconstruction plan.

Thad said...

I was for interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan -- and Rwanda, and now Darfur -- as well -- and I'm a big Wes Clark fan, but this op-ed is just disappointing. It reads like it was written two years ago, and it's bizarrely disconnected from today's reality. I mean, check this paragraph:

On the political side, the timeline for the agreements on the Constitution is less important than the substance of the document. It is up to American leadership to help engineer, implement and sustain a compromise that will avoid the "red lines" of the respective factions and leave in place a state that both we and Iraq's neighbors can support. So no Kurdish vote on independence, a restricted role for Islam and limited autonomy in the south. And no private militias.

And a pony.

The Republicans have already lost the war in Iraq, okay? The war is over, and the GOP lost. It's time to face up to that and get the fuck out, because our presence there does more harm than good to all involved.

Mark said...

When we invaded Iraq we assumed responsibility for the aftermath. As a good liberal I don't believe an American life is automatically more valuable than an Iraqi life. We broke it, we bought it we need to fix it.

Now some argue the best way to fix Iraq is to leave, that our presence causes more harm than good. Could be, but I don't think so. I think if we just upped and left the country would fall into a civil war far worse for the average Iraqi than what we see now.

Exactly what to do now is not obvious, nor do I feel qualified to have the answer, but I trust the General.

(If only Clark had gone to Iowa... Or if our Sodbuster campaign actually worked... No, stop that Mark! Deal with the present, deal with reality...)

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jay said...

John, the smpammers have found you.

Where's that Bradley Fighting Plow when you need one?

fbg46 said...

Clark's plan is for domestic consumption, not implementation. He knows there's no chance Dear Leader would pay any attention to him.

However, Clark is now positioned for three or six months from now to say that he had a plan, which had it been implemented way back in August '05 would have worked.

As a substantive matter, his plan would not have worked, because Iraq is Over. The only plans that work are those which say it's time to pack up and leave.

Mark said...

As a substantive matter, his plan would not have worked, because Iraq is Over. The only plans that work are those which say it's time to pack up and leave.

You may be correct, but I don't believe so. I'm not even 100% sure the Iraqi people can't pull this off even with Bush's non-plan in action -- I'm just 90% sure.

Both Juan Cole and Wes Clark have recently come down against immediate withdrawal and neither was a fan of the initial invasion. We owe it to the Iraqi's not to let the country fall into a full-fledged civil war.

But given the reality Bush is in charge... yea, perhaps pulling out is best. But I'm still not convinced. Not yet. If they get the constitution right (rights for women, Islamic law minimized, etc.) I'll continue to think that way. If they get it wrong, well, to hell with them.

Curt said...

John, I was thrilled when I first found out Wes was actually running for president. I don't know what went wrong, but he really lost his stride almost immediately. His kung fu stopped being strong. It was dismaying. I'd be happy if he got it together and kept it together this next time around.

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