Maybe the United States really can establish a peaceable democratic government in Iraq, and if so, that would be worth something.No, I don't think that will happen. If Sep 11, 2001 taught us nothing, it taught us that there are some in society who will find any reason, no matter how tenuous, to oppose those with whom they are ideologically incompatible.
Would it be worth all the money we've spent? Certainly.
Would it be worth all the lives that have been lost? That's the more difficult question, and while I reserve judgment on that score until such a day arrives, it seems probable that history would answer yes to that as well.
I don't want to get carried away in the moment.
Going to war still sent so many terrible messages to the world.
Most of the obstacles to success in Iraq are all still there, the ones that have always led me to believe that we would eventually be forced to leave the country with our tail tucked between our legs. (I've maintained from the start that if you were impressed by the demonstrations in the streets of Baghdad when we arrived, wait until you see how they celebrate our departure, no matter the circumstances.)
In and of itself, the voting did nothing to end the violence. The forces trying to regain the power they have lost -- and the outside elements supporting them -- will be no less determined to disrupt our efforts and to drive us out.
Somebody still has to find a way to bring the Sunnis into the political process before the next round of elections at year's end. The Iraqi government still must develop the capacity to protect its people.
And there seems every possibility that this could yet end in civil war the day we leave or with Iraq becoming an Islamic state every bit as hostile to our national interests as was Saddam.
But on Sunday, we caught a glimpse of the flip side. We could finally see signs that a majority of the Iraqi people perceive something to be gained from this brave new world we are forcing on them.
Instead of making the elections a further expression of "Yankee Go Home," their participation gave us hope that all those soldiers haven't died in vain.
Obviously, I'm still curious to see if Bush is willing to allow the Iraqis to install a government that is free to kick us out or to oppose our other foreign policy efforts in the region.
So is the rest of the world.
For now, though, I think we have to cut the president some slack about a timetable for his exit strategy.
If it turns out Bush was right all along, this is going to require some serious penance.
Maybe I'd have to vote Republican in 2008.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?
Liberal columnist Mark Brown asks, "What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?"