Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Which way out of Iraq?

Congress is home for its August recess, time to explain what has been going on in (Washington) D.C. and what is going to be done in Iraq. All of the easy answers have been exhausted. What do we do now?

Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington's 3rd Congressional District has recently returned from Iraq. Apparently he see signs of progress from the surge effort. Iraqi factions are starting to cooperate and Rep. Baird satisfied that we are moving in the right direction. At least he is convinced that it is a better option than just leaving.

One, I think we're making real progress. Secondly, I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility ... and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security.

Seattle Times August 18, 2007

Here's another quote from the Seattle Times, this one is from David Postman's blog

We have to really remind the American people that we destroyed their civil government, their police force, the military, their infrastructure; we left the borders unguarded and open ... and we also shut down most state industry, leaving people out of work and filled with resentment.

Postman did a follow up piece on some other Democrats who have a view on the war that is not shared by the *ahem* "liberal-blogger-elite" or "netroots" crowd. I think that Rep. Baird is correct in his stance, There are legitimate risks, that are more than just probable, that could destabilize the Middle Eastwe'll have to see if Cindy Sheehan files to run against Rep. Baird as well as Speaker Pelosi.

Meanwhile Sen. Obama has stated that the military cannot win this war. What he actually said was, "there is no military solution to this war." A bit of a gaffe, a little to easy to spin that top. Is he right? Saddam Hussein was able to keep Iraq together by force, isn't that a military solution?

I understand that his point is that a "political" solution is needed, consensus is needed between the factions in Iraq and they need to have a shared stake in Iraq's future. It is a fine line between war and politics. War is the most basic way to establish values, and that is politics. Saddam established values, Paul Bremer established values; the difference is that one of those people established order and stability. At least there was electricity, running water, and the trains ran on time. This is the "political" solution, create social institutions that create stability and provide basic services for the citizenry.

Ol' Tom Hobbes set this out in his classic work Leviathan. Our state of nature is in conflict with each other for resources and survival. Hobbes postulated that all people recognize this on some level and willingly give up a portion of their freedom to the "Leviathan" in exchange for stability. Hobbes' idea of a social contract was a deal with the devil, but it is still the appropriate analogy about life in America and in Iraq post-September 11th.

1 comment:

michael said...

Saddam ruled with the iron fist and succeeded. We went into Iraq with the same approach and failed to establish peace and unity.

The continuous excuse that this is not a "normal" war is old and worn, yet we continue to fight with only slight tactical changes. I feel we need to establish some sort of guidelines and dates to measure progress or failure; so far we have accomplished neither. We also need to establish better ideas in establishing a democracy in Iraq. One silent problem we will face if we continue our blindfolded approach is Afghanistan will be right back where it began post-9.11.