May 28, 2004

DANIEL DREZNER WRITES in The New Republic that the neocons were right on the war, but bad managers whose ineptitude has threatened an important cause: the democratization of the Middle East.

As is his custom, he has footnotes and amplifications on the column that are in some ways more interesting than the column itself. But you should read both.

Meanwhile Peter Robinson echoes a point of Drezner’s — that the prewar situation was unravelling and something had to be done — and notes:

Food in Iraq is everywhere available, clean water is flowing, electricity is being produced at levels higher than those before the war, hundreds of schools have been rebuilt and some 30,000 teachers trained—and whereas before the war Iraqi civilians were dying untimely deaths at the rate of 36,000 a year, now even an anti-war group estimates that in the last 14 months the number of Iraqi civilians to die unnatural deaths numbers at most about 11,000.

This represents a record of which George W. Bush is supposed to be ashamed?

(In a later post Robinson notes that the number of Iraqi lives saved is almost certainly much higher than the above number suggests.)This isn’t really in disagreement with Drezner, who notes in his blog post that he thinks things in Iraq are better than generally believed. To this mix you might add this post from Iraqi blogger Mohammed, who seems happier with the situation than either Drezner or Robinson, perhaps because his expectations are lower: “the reason for this is that I have lived under Saddam.”

Max Boot, meanwhile, reminds us that we’re at war, and observes: “The panic gripping Washington over the state of Iraq makes it clear we have been spoiled by the seemingly easy, apparently bloodless victories of the last decade. . . . Things look a little different if you compare it with earlier conflicts.” Read the whole thing, which offers a lot of useful perspective on casualties, nation-building, and mistakes in light of prior experience.

And, finally, you should read this piece by Arnold Kling: “The war in Iraq has produced a battle for hearts and minds — not over there so much as over here.”