Friday, November 10, 2006

no winners

Yesterday the Reverend Byron Williams wrote a column titled "How would war in Iraq look if it was going well?" While I often enjoy his columns, this one left me a bit befuddled. He delves into the details of the number of troop casualties, waterboarding torture, and lengthy prisoner detention, and translates that into its effect on American disapproval of the war. Had it gone well, he fears we could have become ideologically and politically complacent, that we would accept these things as normal and even good. Williams has a point, but this skates dangerously close to saying that the war's failure is a good thing.

Certainly those are the current realities, but Williams needs to take into account the years we spent treading water. We set up a Kafka-esque bureaucracy that made actual rebuilding impossible. We put a bunch of uncut children in charge of handing out grants and, apparently drawing from their own scant experience, they made the money impossible to get. However, the politics of the kids was properly right-wing; all were hired because they'd applied for jobs at the Hoover Institution. Choosing not to buy concrete from the former regime's factory because it was government-owned and thus ideologically incorrect was disastrous: there were no privately-owned concrete factories, so no concrete. We didn't give our troops enough of {name your military resource}. Because we didn't have enough troop to begin with, we shifted them out of places just when progress was starting to be made. After all this time Baghdad still doesn't have electricity 24 hours a day.

In short, if the war in Iraq was going well, we would either be long gone already, or withdrawing now. The casualty count, the torture, and possibly the detention would have been reduced. The insurgency certainly would have kept their heads down if we'd restored order sooner. We came in, broke their cities, and didn't fix them; we have not given them any practical improvements over the regime. In theory, they are free, as Bush likes to tout. In practice, they hide behind a cracked wall worrying about the next bullet.

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