January 28, 2007

AT STRATEGYPAGE: Top Ten Myths of the Iraq War. Excerpt:

10- The War in Iraq is Lost. By what measure? Saddam and his Baath party are out of power. There is a democratically elected government. Part of the Sunni Arab minority continues to support terror attacks, in an attempt to restore the Sunni Arab dictatorship. In response, extremist Shia Arabs formed vigilante death squads to expel all Sunni Arabs. Given the history of democracy in the Middle East, Iraq is working through its problems. Otherwise, one is to believe that the Arabs are incapable of democracy and only a tyrant like Saddam can make Iraq “work.” If democracy were easy, the Arab states would all have it. There are problems, and solutions have to be found and implemented. That takes time, but Americans have, since the 18th century, grown weary of wars after three years. If the war goes on longer, the politicians have to scramble to survive the bad press and opinion polls. Opposition politicians take advantage of the situation, but this has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with local politics in the United States.

Indeed. (Via Austin Bay, who observes: “In twenty years its common sense assessment will be the conventional wisdom.”)

UPDATE: Some related thoughts from Robert Kagan:

It’s quite a juxtaposition. In Iraq, American soldiers are finally beginning the hard job of establishing a measure of peace, security and order in critical sections of Baghdad — the essential prerequisite for the lasting political solution everyone claims to want. They’ve launched attacks on Sunni insurgent strongholds and begun reining in Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia. And they’ve embarked on these operations with the expectation that reinforcements will soon be on the way: the more than 20,000 troops President Bush has ordered to Iraq and the new commander he has appointed to fight the insurgency as it has not been fought since the war began.

Back in Washington, however, Democratic and Republican members of Congress are looking for a different kind of political solution: the solution to their problems in presidential primaries and elections almost two years off. Resolutions disapproving the troop increase have proliferated on both sides of the aisle. Many of their proponents frankly, even proudly, admit they are responding to the current public mood, as if that is what they were put in office to do. Those who think they were elected sometimes to lead rather than follow seem to be in a minority.

Perhaps we should abolish Congress and run everything by poll. I doubt there’s much support for that idea in Congress . . . . Read the whole thing, and especially this point: “Of course, most of the discussion of Iraq isn’t about Iraq at all. The war has become a political abstraction, a means of positioning oneself at home.”

And TigerHawk writes: “There are, I think, two groups of people who are afraid that the ‘surge’ might work.”