Monday, October 17, 2005

Secretary Rice tries another Iraq war rationale...

This is Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on Sundays Meet the Press.
I'm quite certain, Tim, that when the American people see every day what they see on their screens, which is violence and, of course, the deaths of Americans and coalition forces, it's very difficult to take. We mourn every sacrifice. But the fact of the matter is that when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al-Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al-Qaeda and perhaps after the Taliban and then our work would be done and we would try to defend ourselves.

Or we could take a bolder approach, which was to say that we had to go after the root causes of the kind of terrorism that was produced there, and that meant a different kind of Middle East. And there is no one who could have imagined a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein still in power. I know it's difficult, but we have ahead of us the prospect, and I think the very good prospect of a foundation for a democratic and prosperous Iraq that can solve its differences by politics and compromise, that becomes an anchor for a Middle East that is changing.
This is just about the closest I can think of any administration official justifying the Iraq war because of 9/11, while admitting Iraq had nothing to do with it. And to be honest Secretary Rice makes an admirable attempt to connect the dots here. But the fallacy of her reasoning should be apparent to anybody who cares to look at the issue beyond the sloganeering being generated by this administration, which is a disappointment because the answer by Secretary Rice appears to be an attempt to go beyond these pat answer talking points and intelligently address the issue.

First, when Secretary Rice says, "when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al-Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al-Qaeda and perhaps after the Taliban and then our work would be done and we would try to defend ourselves...", she proposes an either/or solution. Either we tackle the broader issue of democracy in the middle east immediately, or we just take care of the Afghan issue and then defend ourselves. What's wrong with taking care of the Afghan issue first, then broadening our goals? It now seems we are engaged in the course of taking care of neither problem, by not finishing the Afghan mission and making a horrible botchery of the Iraqi democratization campaign. Furthermore, our handling of the Iraqi issue has not resulted in the weakening of the terrorist cause but is a source of recruitment and training for them. Therefore the Iraq invasion has resulted in exactly the opposite outcome Secretary Rice argues is our goal.

Also... who is the we Secretary Rice refers to here? If our (the administrations) argument for going to war was to democratize the middle east as part of a long term goal to fight terrorism, they should have made that case prior to launching the invasion. By making our (the administrations) case originally that war was justified based on WMD's and then shifting the argument continuously, we (the administration) have weakened the argument of Secretary Rice. If the Iraqi democratization case had been made up front, and we (the people) had approved the plan and proceeded under those conditions then we (the people) certainly would have been better prepared for a protracted engagement. To throw us into a conflict against our sworn enemy in a way that is guaranteed to generate controversy (read lying) is to set us up for internal conflict and acrimony that can only weaken the effort as we proceed. This applies in the international arena as well. The nature of the war on terror is such that international support is indispensable in the struggle. To blithely toss that away with you're either with us or against us, when we in fact are wrong in our course of action is foolhardy.

Onto the most glaring deficiency in the argument of Secretary Rice. It is just common sense to deal with the leadership of the movement that struck us on 9/11 as the first step in the war on terror. It sends a signal that we are irresolute in our cause when we allow Osama to escape the noose around Tora Bora, and then shift our goals before he is dealt with. This war is truly the greatest strategic blunder in American history. To promote such a disastrous policy, before the actual perps of 9/11 are brought to justice no less, is simply mind boggling and I can't imagine the justification that can be made for this. The equivalent would be to bomb Japan in response to Pearl Harbor, then to invade Chiang Kai-shek controlled China in an effort to set of a wave of democratization in Asia in response to Japanese tyranny. If President Roosevelt had felt the need to set up an office of disinformation and lead a propaganda blitz to lead us down that road, he may have been able to get the political muscle to go there. But history would have shown it was a tremendous blunder, as is the invasion of Iraq in relation to the war on terror.

Lets face it. This flowering of democracy argument is from the pre war on terror planning script of the neocons. The notion was that we would be welcomed as heroes, the military conflict would last for several weeks tops, Iraqi oil would pay for the entire operation, and once the rest of the mid east saw the shining example of their Iraqi brethren the desire of the people for democracy would sweep the region. American military might would be proven and our status of lone world super power would be cemented for decades to come. The need for international support was actually to be discounted to show that we could, in effect, do as we wish in furtherance of our declared interests. Things have not quite panned out as the neo con map had predicted. In the process of the real world debunking of the neo con Iraqi myth we have dealt a grievous blow to our cause in the war on terror. I wonder if Secretary Rice has any notion about how "we" can get ourselves out of this one.

I'm a student so I don't have a lot of time as to immediately writing a response to your last comment, but I'll get around to it.
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