Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Give and Take

I will place myself among those to acknowledge that the Bush administration has reached a major milestone with the recent elections in Iraq. This is a major blow against those who would have Iraq remain a fundamentalist regime, and it deserves to be treated as such.

There's been a noted absence of commentary on the left regarding this event. I think a lot of people are genuinely shocked that it went as well as it did. I know that I am. But at the same time, I am grateful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I am pleased with Canada's contribution to the process.

Things are rarely black and white. I do not believe that President Bush is an evil man. I do, however, believe that many of his policies are misguided, and that he has executed them poorly and at great expense to the American people. I hope that he has learned from his mistakes, and that progress in Iraq does not embolden him to strike at Iran. And I hope that Iraq is now on the path towards long-term democracy and stability. But were I an American, I would be pushing for his impeachment. When you look at the intelligence that was presented before the war, the man is either a liar or an incompetent. Neither option bodes well.

My criticisms remain the same. The war was launched for the wrong reason. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, despite what we were told. Although the US has succeeded in installing a popularlly elected government, there were many humanitarian crises around the world that were even more dire than what the Iraqi people faced at the hands of Saddam Hussein. Not enough effort was made to internationalize the conflict, and the war itself has been managed with ham-fisted inefficiency and needless loss of life. War was the first choice, rather than the last resort. And it was far too expensive for the gain that's been realized. The end does not justify the means.

But these complaints do not change the fact that we are seeing positive developments in the region. Just because the war was immoral does not mean that the current deployment of American soldiers in Iraq is unjustified. As much as we may wish that they hadn't gone there in the first place, I doubt any of us would like to see what kind of a security vacuum would form if these forces were to withdraw immediately.

The election itself was impressive, though not without flaws. Voter turnout was substantial, and the security situation was as good as could be expected, given the insurgency. Sunni Muslims did not get the same opportunity to vote as their Shia counterparts, due to a shortage of voting slips and the continued instability. These are major issues that must be addressed for the next election.

The bottom line is that the Iraqi people now have some manner of democratic channel through which they can express their opposition to the actions of the foreign army that now resides upon their soil. This will drastically reduce the legitimacy that resistance fighters previously enjoyed. No longer are they fighting against an occupying force - they are now fighting against a force that is present at the request of their elected government. Iraqi security forces are fighting for their fellow citizens, not for the Americans. The difference may be subtle, but its importance cannot be understated.


At 10:04 AM, Blogger Channing said...

You forgot one thing in your criticism. One hell of a motive for starting the war in the first place.

While Michael Moore may be a fanatical left wing fundamentalist (who can tick me off sometimes) I do agree strongly with him on one key issue.

After accepting his Oscar for Bowling for Columbine, MM used his "thank you" speech to speak out against Bush and the (then) recently started war. Many saw this. What many did not see, was the 14 minute long speech that MM gave during the post oscar winning media circus off-stage.

During the speech, a reporter asked something along the lines of "What did you mean by 'fictitious reasons for starting the war'?"

MM looked at the reporter and began with his usual somewhat playful "I'm a bumbling fat guy who's trying to poke you repeatedly in the right direction that will deliver you to the answer a la some kind of Columbo episode" routine but then quickly became serious and got straight to the point. "This war is about oil... Nothing else. Iraq has the second largest reserve of oil in the world and that's why we're going in. Nevermind WMD or overthrowing a dictatorship... Its all about oil. Wouldn't it be amazing if they'd just admitt. Then at least you'd know that your corrupt government was at least being honest about their corruption."

I completely agree. I feel that in the end (cause the war ended a long time ago), the war was a great big magic trick. A lot of hocus pocus, lights and a big illusion and now the Bush adminstraition has a ton of oil it didn't have before.

I remember reading an article back in the day about how the original proposed name for the Operation in Iraq was OPERATION IRAQI LIBERATION. Much like the Canadian Aliance Reform Party, someone realised that it needed more thinking through and they changed LIBERATION to FREEDOM.
Dunno if it's true or not, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Anyways... sorry to pick a small part of your post and comment on it solely, but it's just my pet peeve about Iraq... I felt it then... And I still feel it. The war was, is and will always be a sham no matter what great steps are taken now to "stabalize" the region. Progress now is good, but I think that progress would be best to come from sources not linked to the initial problem. However, nobody else is either capable or willing to try to fix the America's problem (and for a good reason)... So America's stuck with it. Maybe by the time Bush is done his second term, enough Americans will be fed up with the conflict (the war's over remember?) and be glad to see him off. But will he ever have to be accountable? Likely not.

I think of it as on parrallel to this:

A drunk driver speeds home because theres an emergency at home (not really, but that's what he'll tell everyone at first - WMD). Then he hits a young female pedestrian killing her, but tells the parents not to worry cause the upside is that they don't have to feed her anymore ("we're here to overthrow a regeime" - a bonus but never the mission). Then after prolonged greif by the parents, the motorist in question offers to help fix the continuing problem, by offering to personally impregnate the mother and help rebuild the family.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Ryan said...

Channing: I mentioned the error in going to war in the first place in the article, but didn't quite spell out oil as being the primary motive. Truth be told, I think it's more than just oil (or the U.S. would be in Venezuela and Sudan right now). It's also about revenge and strategic position.

Just because the war was started for the wrong reason, doesn't mean that Iraq's going to be better off if the U.S. pulls out immediately. That would create a massive power vacuum, which would be rapidly filled by different factions jockeying for power and a hell of a lot of money. Voila, civil war and anarchy.

Bottom line: It's the U.S.'s mess, they should clean it up. In the mean time, they need to be watched like hawks to make sure that they don't pull any fast ones. But if they don't do it, who will? Europe and the rest of the world aren't exactly lining up to help reconstructing Iraq.


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