Spectator Rebuttal

Time to rebut another article.

"You win a war by smashing up the enemy, by so overwhelming him but that he has no choice but to surrender or die."

In the case of Iraq, the enemy was 5% of the population. The only smashing up that there was to be done would have been smashing up conscripts who wanted nothing more than to leave (or to sign up to the new Iraqi Army). Fortunately Bush wasn't as cruel as you, and gave the conscripts a chance to go home, which almost all of them did. And the war was won in 3.5 weeks, even without needing to smash people up. There is a difference between a war of liberation and a war of conquest.

"Yes, losing would be a bad thing -- and the Bush administration should know, given that it has managed to lose both houses of Congress, alienate its own supporters, and convince the American people by a whopping majority that we cannot "win" in Iraq."

The fact that the American public are as ignorant and as lacking in morals as you is indeed a problem. Smashing large numbers of allies up is probably not going to change that.

"it appears that Iraq is indeed a meat-grinder -- for the insurgents"

Yep. You got that right. And we're even organizing the Iraqis to do "our" killing for us. And you have the audacity to say that Bush doesn't know what he's doing???

"A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week"

There is no-one to use violence against. You seem to want to use violence for violence's sake. Violence should be calculated. The US doesn't even need to be the one using the violence. It is merely enough to enable pro-freedom Iraqis to use the level of violence they deem necessary to enforce Iraqi law. The US is just there to assist them.

"But more fundamental than this, if we are to win in Iraq we need to start with the recognition that we have already won."

Yep, you are correct again. So what are you whinging about? Just assist the Iraqis in consolidating their victory.

"But since when has it been a wise policy to subordinate America's national interests to those of a foreign government, let alone an Iraqi government that has taken to vetoing or protesting American military policy?"

It is in America's national interests to help the democratically-elected Iraqi government enforce the rule of law. The more Iraq runs according to the rule of law, the more it will resemble a European country. And America desperately needs an example of an Arab country that looks like a European country rather than something from Mad Max. Quite apart from doing something decent to help others. What religion are you again?

"THE NUB OF THE ISSUE is that transferring political power to the Iraqi "government elected by the people" means transferring military power at a rate not far behind; otherwise, our troops are not only hostages to a government we didn't elect, but we will increasingly find ourselves at odds with our putative ally."

There is nothing seriously wrong with Iraqi law. US troops helping enforce Iraqi law does not make the troops hostage to anyone. It is in the US's interests that current Iraqi law is enforced.

"He doesn't care a whit about the rights of Sunnis"

The Sunnis in Iraq have parliamentary representation. If they believe they are being treated as second-class citizens in their own country, then they should be the ones publicly asking for US protection. The US should see Maliki's reaction to such hypothetical complaints before throwing its weight about. I do not know of any Iraqi law that discriminates against Sunnis, which is perhaps why the Sunni aren't actually complaining. Perhaps you can fill in the details?

"And while there is no inherent military reason why our troops cannot train the Iraqi army to defeat the insurgents"

Right again. And this is the optimal use of US resources. Merely train local "revolutionaries" to secure their victory over Saddam.

"Our little brown brothers should be turned loose to take the scimitar to their enemies -- without American referees -- as soon as politically possible, which should be early 2008"

This is already the plan. What are you whinging for?

"We should never have pledged to uphold a unified Iraq. We should instead have created an independent Kurdistan, an independent Shiite Mesopotamia, and an independent (and largely Sunni) rump state of Iraq."

No. The US needs to be able to say in good faith that all it is doing is converting a dictatorship into a democracy, and no-one should stand in the way of that happening. Turkey was extremely angry at the thought of an independent Kurdistan, but put its trust in the US that the US wouldn't do that, and allowed the US to use its air bases (and air space). The reason the US has a long list of allies is because it takes the allies concerns into serious consideration and doesn't backstab them. In addition, there is nowhere to actually draw a line between Shia and Sunni Arabs. And more importantly than all this, is we want to turn Iraq into a normal European-style country, ie that is tolerant of different races and religions, rather than just entrenching racism and religious bigotry via partition. A cultural change is required to achieve this, and that cultural change is the key to preventing another 9/11.

"we should have reinforced our initial victory with a doubling of our troop strength to stem the inevitable initial chaos"

No. We need to prove going into the future that we don't need a large force in order to execute a war of liberation. We also needed to find out what forces would emerge from the chaos. It was important that the Iraqi people did not feel conquered, so that they would do what they really wanted to do, instead of being forced to do what America told them to do. It was vitally important to find out what was really in their heads. The War on Terror will only be won by changing their mindset. You addressed that problem when you said:

"Assassination, whether through roadside bombs, decapitation (by hanging or knife), a random spray of bullets, militia street battles, or government hit-men, is a traditional form of Middle Eastern greeting that we are not going to eliminate"

But you're the one who is giving up without trying to win the larger war. Why do you think that we can't eliminate this "greeting"? These people are homo sapiens. It should be possible. Failure to eliminate this mindset will lead to future 9/11s. By using minimal force, Bush is allowing us to collect data on this mindset. Just because you have spent no time at all analyzing the problem and have just declared it unchangeable, doesn't mean that Bush is so defeatist. And nor am I. If you want to be safe, you need to change the individuals who have this alien mindset, not just the government. And I have already proposed a solution, which you can see on my blog. No-one has been able to fault it yet.

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