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Sunday, February 18th 2007

Mission Iraq: Hyperbole

Call it hair splitting but, my view,

  • * Iraq wasn’t in America’s best interest
  • * It displayed poor foresight and planning
  • However,

  • * There’s always a moral argument for action to remove a human rights criminal and dictator
  • * Unilateral? Coalition building? There’s no hard and fast rule against acting unilaterally, we need only to weigh it against what it costs us in international standing
  • Whatever your views, I hope we can all raise an eyebrow at the claim that Iraq is the worst foreign policy mistake of all time. Not only does it show poor critical reasoning skills to even try to make such a determination without the subjectivity of time, but it just doesn’t seem like there’s any facts to back it up.

    After months of heated rhetoric slamming President Bush’s Iraq policy, the Senate’s top Democrat moved into new terrain by declaring the Iraq war a worse blunder than Vietnam.

    “This war is a serious situation. It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country,” Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.”

    Vietnam cost more than 58,000 American lives, achieved nothing, and was based on as faulty evidence as anything Bush put forward for the invasion of Iraq.

    And Iraq RIGHT NOW is worse than Vietnam? That seems like a huge stretch.

    One of the problems with this sort of bizarre hyperbolic rhetoric while the situation is ongoing, is not only that you don’t have the perspective of time, but also that you don’t know the absolute outcome. Iraq hasn’t achieved what we hoped, but Vietnam achieved nothing, can we truly say that about Iraq yet?

    As an example, consider the war from a utilitarian perspective: the situation in Iraq is arguably worse than before America arrived, but let us imagine we leave and it stabilizes out into even a semi-democracy, and more importantly one without Sadaam Hussein. What is it worth that you may not have another Halajaba? I don’t think we can measure the total effect yet, as our troops’ hardships and that of the Iraqi people drags on we lose sight of the damage Sadaam brought over the totality of his regime and may have continued to bring had he remained in power.

    Opponents of the war may imagine a turn around in Iraq unlikely in the near future, but they certainly can’t say for sure what Iraq will look like in a few years. So refrain from comparing your predicted Iraq to other trials of American interventionism.

    The point is, until the story is told we cannot judge the effect.

    I understand the very limited argument that former Governor Bill Richardson articulates in defense of Senator Reid’s claim,

    “I do agree with that because our obsession with Iraq has cost us enormous amounts of prestige … around the world.”

    A legitimate argument, if you want to limit your claim to this one point. I challenge that it is the worst hit to American prestige over ALL of history, but that it has cost American influence more than Vietnam…fine.

    Personally, I think such is overvalued. As well, anti-Americanism was on the rise throughout the world before 2003 and I think Iraq just allowed for the overflowing of feelings, which are partially based on jealousy. As I’ve said, American power was a benefit to the western world for more than fifty years. I defy anyone to claim that any country would’ve acted less intrusively or beneficently if endued with America’s strength. And as stated, I personally don’t find any credence in the opinion that having power centralized in a single nation wasn’t a good thing for the world. Such a claim is revisionist history.

    As an example, I am utterly convinced that more of central Asia, the middle east, and maybe even further parts of Europe would’ve fallen under the influence/control of the USSR if not for America’s strength through the 1980s. I buy that the true military might of the Soviet Union was played up in military intelligence to justify defense spending through the 60s, 70s and 80s but that only relatively inflated the risk of World War with the Soviet Union, it does not diminish the fact that the USSR was an entity that committed unspeakable horrors during its existence. Across the decades I am convinced that American strength protected, merely by the threat of war, millions from an untimely death directly or indirectly at the hands of Soviet policies.

    We’ve opposed democratically favored governments, and caused quality of life to suffer in some instances, but I don’t see how anyone thinks the sum total of American influence hasn’t been positive. Those that act as hard headed activists against the whole of American interventionism, without conceding the benefits American power has allowed the world, enjoy a sad and narrow view of the world.

    Let me make it clear: I enjoy the fact there’s a debate (or there should be one in the Senate if Republicans weren’t being such pains) over what to do in Iraq – over the troop increase, over the need to bring our troops home. I even have major concerns about a troop increase and sympathize with the Democrat’s positions. What I ask, from both sides, is to choose your words carefully and keep things in perspective.