Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

This article from Dave Kilcullen recently came to my attention. He has an articulate position on his opposition to the Iraq war, and I love to look at those things to trace them back to the basic assumptions that were made in the chain of logic that must differ greatly from mine to come to some a strange (to me) viewpoint.

Here is where I found it:

"When we invaded Iraq, we took on a moral and legal responsibility for its people’s wellbeing. Regardless of anyone’s position on the decision to invade, those obligations still stand and cannot be wished away merely because they have proven inconvenient)."

We supposedly have some obligations.

When Saddam was filling mass graves, we apparently didn't have any obligations to stop it. When women were being raped, still no obligation. But when we invade a country, ostensibly on a weapons hunt, we incur all sorts of responsibilities? Why isn't it the Iraqi people who have a responsibility to pay for the entire cost of the weapons hunt?

Something that really irks me is people insisting that if the Iraqi people didn't wan to end up in mass graves, it is them who have to rise up against, we don't need to, and indeed, shouldn't, be involved. When I point out to them that that is a technical impossibility against a modern military, they insist that it can be done, and then cite examples that usually involve a glorified military coup. When I then point out to them that just for their amusement, the Iraqis did do exactly as they asked, in 1991, and 100,000 of them died, without achieving a damn thing, they normally just get angry. It'd be nice to occasionally hear someone say "hmmm, you got me there", but I've lived with humans for too long to expect that to ever happen.

Regardless, there is no shortage of people who insist that the Iraqis are the only ones who have a right or responsibility to obtain their freedom, regardless of whether that is technically possible or not. So there are no circumstances, not even institutionalized rape, that will goad them into action, or even give permission for others to go into action. They instead insist that it's the fault of the "gutless" males in that country for not acting. A truly cruel position to take. Adding insult to injury, and at the same time not even protecting women. What sort of man does that?

My opinion differs from that, but it also differs from Dave's where he thinks we have taken on a responsibility for general population protection.

No, no, no. The primary responsibility for general population protection is on the Iraqi males themselves. It always was. It always will be. Our obligation should be restricted to ensuring that it is technically possible for them to provide that protection. With Saddam's weaponry, that wasn't in reach. After the invasion, it was. And FAR from being "gutless", we saw long lines of Iraqis trying to join the security forces to ensure that they could do that. It truly was a beautiful sight.

However, there was an even bigger, unmentioned, obligation. We have an obligation to protect ourselves - the existing free world. Iraq was merely a potential member of that club, and quite frankly, if things hadn't worked out, and played out differently, they might have simply been a glass desert instead.

In order to protect ourselves, it was necessary to find out what was causing the Arab Muslims to be hostile towards us instead of towards a butcher like Saddam, at least if media and election results were to be believed. And simply sending in heaps of troops to impose a new political order on the Iraqi people would not have answered that question. We needed what Mao instituted, with some of the same nefariousness that he mustered. We needed the Iraqi people to honestly say what they thought so that we knew whether to nuke the entire place or get a handle on whether we could turn it around, or how much effort would be involved. And the only way of extracting that information was to make them believe that they weren't being controlled by anyone and that they were free to do whatever they wanted. And how did we get them to believe that? Simple. We made it true. Insufficient troops were sent in to ram something down their throats. Just enough were sent in to ensure that there would be no ramming. Only majority opinion would prevail.

So we got the information we needed in order to protect ourselves from future terrorist attacks. The blueprint - message 666. That information wasn't available in Afghanistan. It was locked up in the minds of Arab Muslims and we needed to hear a lot of them speak freely.

But that's something specific to Iraq. Iraq enabled us to fulfill our obligations to ourselves.

The other countries, and indeed, Iraq also gets the same rights in this, have a right to expect us to at least take the monkey off their back - the monkey being their armed forces - when we can do that relatively easily. After that, it's over to them. No reconstruction money. Nothing. The Iranians, North Koreans, Burmese can pay for their own rebuilding. To give those countries rebuilding money, when other countries still have monkeys on their back would be extremely discriminatory policy.

Monkeys first. Any foreign aid for reconstruction is a distant second. And the foreign aid is not an obligation. It should be given freely. The way things are currently set up in the west - social respect being given for charitable donations, not wealth, - is the way to do that. Rather than trying to force it on people like communism tries, which takes away any soul-satisfying attempt at making the world a better place.

Unless the foreign aid is part of an effort to fulfill our government's responsibility to protect its own citizens, anyway. Then that gets priority over other monkeys in the world.

And with those orders of priority, an obligation pecking-sequence if you will, the way the Afghan and Iraqi wars have been done politically is an absolute work of art. At this point it doesn't really require any further political manoeuvring. People like Dave are the right people to be in charge. We have democratically-elected governments in both countries we can go to for approval for anything (meaning they take responsibility), and we just allow our professionals (like Dave) to do what they're best at. Making sure we can blame subsequent cockups on the locals is another important political thing that was done. We only give advice, and make sure the locals are the ones that take the rap, when our professionals basically just carry out their orders. (In effect, they give orders, even though obviously no-one is so stupid to give them legal authority over our forces - but defacto control is fine, and desired, so that we can use the "only following orders sir" excuse no matter what happens).

I don't follow world events much more these days. Even if Pakistan were to be invaded tomorrow, the only thing I'm interested in is whether there's any problem with nukes. I already know that it's a nation full of religious bigots.

Iran has something of great interest to me - I want to know if a country can be liberated with far fewer troops than were used in Iraq, by just allowing the military to change sides, or be annihilated from the air. I'm also interested in hearing what they have to say about Islamic Paradises.

North Korea, Burma etc - all need to be freed - we have an obligation to do so - but until we get permission to do so, there's nothing to see, nothing to do, and post-liberation, there is nothing to actually learn from it. May as well be rerunning the liberation of Haiti. Of course I'll be happy, indeed, ecstatic, to welcome new members of the free world, and watching them line up to vote. Truly wonderful. But no further analysis is required. Historians will be able to produce a documentary on all the atrocities in North Korea etc. But my input is not required for that. And it'll just be a rerun of Iraq, Iran etc etc. They may as well be showing the same car crash on the Hume Highway that I swear they've been showing for the last 2 decades.

My talents are best utilized in other arenas at this point in time, as indeed they were before 9/11 and the Iraq War provided an opportunity to finally solve the important problem of conflict in the world.

And that's the ultimate answer to the ultimate question, on this very day.

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