| |

Eleanor Swift on Cheney and Iraq

Some time ago I blogged on the danger of using insufficient force and of not completing the solution to a problem. The result of that procedure, used all too often in goverment and international relations, is that people suffer and die, but there is no real cause and no conclusion.

Now in a column Eleanor Swift (Holding Pattern — Rumsfeld’s Senate testimony underscores that there are no good options on Iraq. Meanwhile, where’s Dick Cheney?) evaluates Rumsfeld’s testimony before the Senate armed services committee as indicating that there are no good options:

The best any of this trio of apologists could come up with is that U.S. forces need to keep doing what they’re doing to keep from losing. They offered no strategy for victory, only a holding pattern to prevent a worse defeat than that America is already experiencing. An honest reckoning would acknowledge there are no good options in Iraq and that the road to failure began with Rumsfeld’s bullheaded determination to keep the number of invading troops to a minimum.

She’s right on part of this, but I actually think she hasn’t gone quite far enough.

I would like to ask whether there was an outcome to the war in Iraq, based on any number of troops we might have been able to assign to it, that would have been good? Was there any possibility that we could have an outcome that would let us come home satisfied and victorious? As I think of that I’m reminded of the scenes yesterday on television of Shiites protesting in favor of Hizbollah in Baghdad. They were yelling “Death to Israel,” but also “Death to America.” These are the people we put in power. Indeed, they are the only people could possibly have expected to see in power.

I don’t say any of this out of any desire to respond weakly to terrorism, or any unwillingness to use force. I believe force is necessary and justified. The question is how we apply that force in order to accomplish realistic and useful goals. Going into Iraq to hunt terrorists may well have been a good thing. Going into Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction, had there been any, might well have been a good thing. But going into Iraq in order to replace a despotic and tyrranical secular regime with a despotic and tyrranical religious regime is silly. And I’m going on the record now. If we get out of there Iraq is either going to collapse into chaos (provided one can tell the difference!) or it will have a tyrranical Shiite regime and we will have another substantial enemy in the region.

In order to establish a government that would be friendly to us and stable enough to maintain a watch on terrorism there for us we would have to put in power people we chose, and then back them up with an enormous number of troops. I’ve said before, I don’t think the United States is ready to be a real occupying power, and that would be what would be necessary in Iraq.

Swift continues the same comment regarding the invasion of Lebanon:

The Israeli government just made the same mistake in thinking they could disable Hizbullah without committing sufficient ground forces in Lebanon. Three weeks of an air bombardment that resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths brought Israel no closer to rooting out Hizbullah guerilla fighters in the south of Lebanon.

But one of the problems here is that Israel is trying to live within the world community’s view of force, which says using a minimal or proportional amount of force. What is needed is either no use of force or a sufficient use of force. Anything in between simply kills lots of people. The irony here is that people pursuing peace are actually causing death and destruction. By not actually solving a problem, we lay the groundwork for the next stage of violence. Lebanon needs to have Hezbollah rendered ineffective, and then they need to have their own government take control of the entire country. While they would certainly prefer it not be Israel that did that, if Israel is successful, there will be people who will be privately thanking them, even while publicly condemning them.

I would add that I am also not suggesting the full use of force in each situation. As I said of Iraq, I don’t think there was a practicable level of force that would have made the invasion a good idea. The problem was that there was no reasonable outcome to be expected. I’m suggesting limited goals and sufficient force to accomplish them.

Similar Posts