Friday, November 18, 2005

One reason I haven't posted recently, besides being busy with the Spain Herald and all--I think we've improved it, I really do--is that I've been having a debate with myself over the Iraq war. I don't like blood and killing and death and terror and I think it's a terrible thing for both the civilians and the Allied troops, not to mention the now-legitimate Iraqi government and military.

I suppose what we did was trigger a civil war, mostly pitting two ethnic groups (Shiite Arabs and Sunni Kurds) against one (Sunni Arabs). The Sunni Arabs had run the place since it stopped being an Ottoman colony in 1917, which it had been for the last about four hundred years, and became a British colony. I'm really not sure exactly when it stopped being a British colony, though the year 1932 comes to mind; I remember that the British invaded Iraq in World War II and overthrew a pro-Nazi regime. And grabbed the oil. I do know Iraq had governments somewhere between lousy and horrific between the end of World War II and the overthrow of Saddam by the Allies in April 2003. And those governments were all run by Sunni Arabs for Sunni Arabs. Obviously, in a democratic Iraq, the Sunni Arabs would no longer run everything. Therefore, many Sunni Arabs oppose the democratic government, and a fraction of them are willing to kill.

So we have an ethnic civil war on our hands--again, most Sunni Arabs don't want to fight against the democratic government, only a few do, but that few is enough to cause lots of trouble, which we see every day on the news.

Meanwhile, there is a separate but linked war going on between the Allies and Al Qaeda and its terrorist allies. That war is being fought all over the world, as the explosions in Jordan and Pakistan and Spain and Britain and Morocco and Indonesia show. It is also being fought in parts of Afghanistan, on the ground, against Taliban loyalists. And Al Qaeda has joined in the Iraqi civil war on the side of the violent minority of Sunni Arabs.

So how do the Americans fit in here? Well, one of the mistakes we made in Vietnam was to bail out and ditch the South Vietnamese and Cambodian governments. Just look at the horrors that led to. We can't ditch the democratic Iraqis, no matter what. Doing so would undoubtedly lead to much greater horrors than those we see on television news now. So we're effectively in a civil war on one side. I think if we admit that this is the situation, it might clear up a lot of our thinking. We've got to fight Al Qaeda around the world, because not doing so is suicide. And we have to fight antidemocratic forces in Iraq. Let's make sure we can keep the two separate.

Al Qaeda is basically an ideological movement. The Sunni Arabs are basically a nationalist movement. They're fighting on the same side in Iraq. Al Qaeda is also linked to nationalist groups in many Muslim countries, including Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and the Philippines. They're fighting on the same side in those countries, too.

I suppose this means that no matter how much we dislike seeing the results of the latest bombing in Baghdad, and knowing how much people are suffering, bailing out of Iraq would mean giving a victory to Al Qaeda, which would then have a home base even more convenient than Afghanistan to plot terror, and giving a victory to the insurgent Sunni Arabs, who would then certainly genocide the Kurds and Shiite Arabs. I think, practically and ethically, looking back to examples such as Munich and the Vietnam pullout, the West has to beat them here and now in Iraq. This means no American pullout. Even though two thousand of our guys have been killed, and I would guess at least 15,000 Iraqi civilians. Not to mention large quantities of terrorists, both nationalist Sunnis and Al Qaeda, who will bother us no more.

What's our exit strategy? Well, let's admit we don't really have one, just like Roosevelt really didn't have one in 1942. Whatever we have to do to win the war, because we don't want to fight it in New York and Washington. And Madrid.

Does the end justify the means? I don't think so in the case of torture. I think it's pretty clear that nobody's being tortured in Guantanamo. As for those bleeding hearts who seem to care more for terrorists' rights than for Westerners' simple right to live, what do you want us to do with them? Turn them loose? That's not going to happen. If people are being tortured in secret CIA prisons, well, that would be very wrong if it were happening. Although I haven't seen the slightest real evidence that it is. I also think it's clear that the Abu Ghraib tortures, from which apparently no one died, were an aberration and an isolated incident.

Also, let me make this clear, if it turns out there are secret CIA torture prisons, we can't do that. That wouldn't make me want to stop the war or bail out of Iraq, but it would make me want to fire lots of our intelligence, military, and political leaders and get us some new ones who can win the war without torturing people.

And the Iraqi people are going to suffer less if we stay than if we go. So we have to stay now that we touched off the fuse. The fuse was going to blow sometime, Iraq couldn't go on as it was under Saddam, but we lit it and we need to be honest with ourselves about that. I, personally, was in favor of lighting it back in 2003.

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