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Iraq Chaos: Enemies Must Be Defeated, Not Policed

Over a decade later, and we're still working on "hearts and minds" in Iraq. How about we consider how our grandads did it?

Walter Hudson


June 16, 2014 - 7:00 am

Iraq war vet J.R. Salzman expresses understandable frustration regarding Iraq’s collapse into chaos brought on by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Salzman and so many others have been told for years that their sacrifices were offered to establish a free and orderly Iraq. My PJM colleague Austin Bay summarizes the conventional wisdom which has informed the effort when he writes:

The US has a vital interest in helping Iraqis create a stable, democratic state. Would-be isolationists will quickly rediscover that economic links bind the 21st century world, once they see the oil price hikes spurred by the battlefield successes of the [ISIS].

What if the Iraqis don’t want a stable, democratic state? What if they lack the philosophical and moral base upon which to establish it? Wouldn’t that largely explain why their nation descends into chaos without Americans there to impose order?

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The interests of the United States are properly defined by the individual rights of its citizens. We have a right to defend our lives, our liberty, and our property. If ISIS presents a threat to those rights, they should be engaged as an enemy and utterly destroyed.

But that’s the old fashioned, pre-WWII, pre-UN way of looking at foreign policy. And it’s not very popular today. Day suggests:

To stabilize, Iraqis need confidence; a long-term US security presence inspires confidence. America kept a security “nightlight” in Germany and Japan for half a century.

Of course, Germany and Japan were first militarily defeated in total war, their cities and civilian populations devastated to the point of unconditional surrender. Unless we’re willing to first defeat our enemies, we can’t hope to police them.

Part of the problem is that Iraq doesn’t have a unified national identity. You can’t expect the natives to fight for something they don’t believe in. But that raises the question: if they don’t believe in it, why are we there? If it’s not to neutralize an objectively defined threat, then fifty years of more sacrifices like Salzman’s are hard to justify.

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, and as president of the Minority Liberty Alliance. He hosts a daily podcast entitled Fightin Words, proudly hosted on Twin Cities Newstalk Podcast Network. Walter is a city council member in Albertville, MN. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

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Seriously, it's NOT simply Iraq not having been defeated enough. You can't convince me that after a decade of sanctions and all the warfighting, complete disruption of civilization and widespread looting, that somehow Iraq hadn't felt the scourge of war and that was its problem.

No, it's that Germany and Japan were, for reasons fair and foul, largely homogeneous societies when they were defeated, whereas Iraq is a winner's game and the previous losers took over, systematically sought to dominate all elements of politics, and while they did not succeed in squishing the Kurds, they have succeeded in criminalizing Sunni politicians and driving them out of civilized society. (And yeah, some probably were in cahoots with Jihadists as accused, but Sinn Fein is in politics today, and Maliki's no saint, so let's not be too impressed by that concession.)

So it's not that Iraq wasn't squished enough, it's that the new leadership wants it all, and those disenfranchised, who used to be on top, resent it a lot. And these are our would-be allies.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not sure invading Saudi is going to go down well.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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