It warms the cockles, it does, when I read an alternate evaluation of the situation that smacks more of truth and intelligence than sheer belief and “please let it be so” that you read in the papers or hear on television news casts. When the evaluation comes from an ex-military officer with experience in Iraq, I pay a lot of attention.
You can see for yourself whether the recent interminable stories of the “success of the surge” in Iraq hold water after reading Douglas Macgregor's piece in Mother Jones, “Will Iraq's Great Awakening Lead to a Nightmare?” Macgregor's piece has the ring of truth about it precisely because he accepts the facts that the Bush Administration is gloating about. He just interprets them in a way that makes common sense, rather than the self-congratulatory enthusiasm rapidly coagulating into smug truculence.
You can't argue with people who are doctrinal acolytes, but see if you think this makes some sense:
We don't know much about developments within Iraq. Military officers who have recently served in Iraq tell me they don't truly understand Iraq's complexity or the duplicitous nature of the Iraqis they work with. In my conversations with them, they raise troubling questions that don't lend themselves to sound-bite answers on talk radio or the evening news. Is the Great Awakening inside the Sunni Arab community the road to Iraq's stability, or is it just a pause for Sunni rearmament and reorganization?
all we can say with certainty is that unrelenting Arab hatred of the U.S. military presence in Iraq and the nature of the Sunni-Shiite struggle will make it unlikely that the cash-for-cooperation strategy will buy Iraq genuine stability, let alone the legitimate political order that is needed.
And finally, for me, at least, a most fitting conclusion for the benefit of the less and less impressive leading Democratic candidates:
if the next administration fails to disengage its forces from Iraq and renews the determination to hold on to the country, if it does not renounce the myth that America's mission in the world is to impose American concepts of political order on foreign peoples burdened with undeveloped economies and dysfunctional societies, all bets are off.
I have left out some interesting remarks on the regional players—what he says about Turkey alone should make great sense to anyone with an open mind. Visit the article and read it. Keep it with you for lunch time reading.
Mother Jones has done some fine things on the war over the past four years. One project that is invaluable is their great reference time line on the war—which is great to consult when trying to research the facts on the ground—when did Bremer come aboard, when did he leave, or when were the two elections held, when was Sergio DiMello killed, for instance—but also other great articles drawing on a wide range of input, such as this article in October 2007 “U.S. Out How? The Moral Dilemma of Leaving Iraq” which gives the results of interviews “with more than 50 experts, from General Petraeus' advisers to antiwar activists.” It's worthwhile reading, and then you can really start to make up your own mind.
My mind was made up long before the war started. I didn't think we should invade, and yet I could see the great folly--as Barbara Tuchman would call it in The Guns of August--as the troops were massing on the borders, the ships steaming to the Persian Gulf, the Turks pissing off Donald Rumsfeld as they refused to let us use their airbases to stage the invasion from the north, and then you just knew that the movement would never stop. The dogs of war were straining at the leash, and you don't say "down boy" and tell Saddam Hussein he had one last chance. There's moments like that in everyone's life, so why shouldn't there be in a nation's? It's that moment in love when you just know that it's going to happen, and you nuzzle into that warm neck; and I am sure for a killer, it's that moment when he knows he is going to pull the trigger.
The great international crime, as we Americans established in the Geneva Conventions, in the United Nations, and at the Nuremberg trials, is the war of aggression. No facts or arguments will change that for me. We did wrong and we refuse to admit it, convincing ourselves that if we just fight a bit harder, a bit smarter, throw some more money at the problem, WE CAN WIN THIS WAR.
I can't wait for the Bushit to be flushed down the toilet of history on January 20, 2009. I just can't wait.