March 16, 2007:
Trying to keep track of who is
winning in Iraq is complicated by debates on questions that are not relevant.
If you're going to have a war people will die and stuff will be destroyed.
That's a consequence of having a war. So the issue is not "we shouldn't have a
war because people will die . . . ." but "Is this war necessary." On the other
side of the debate are those who argue that "national honor" is at stack or
"credibility" - rather than "Is this war necessary."
It's difficult to avoid having the war become
politicized. The two major American political parties are always trying to gain
more power, and one way to do that is to criticize whatever the other party is
doing. This is all cloaked in a sense of moral superiority and absolute horror
at the atrocities the other party is committing. This has been the drill for
every American war. The real surprise is
that neither the media, nor most Americans, acknowledge this rather shabby
treatment of what is really happening out there. But that's another story.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, Saddam is gone, the Iraqi
people have elected their own government, and the Sunni Arab minority, that ran
the nation as a dictatorship for so long, refuses to stop fighting. The Sunni
Arabs are aided by al Qaeda, and other Islamic conservatives who see infidel
(non-Moslem) troops in the Middle East as something worth killing and dying
for. This is nothing new. Islamic radicals have been shouting this about this
for decades. Their attempts to carry their anger to the West, in the form of
terror attacks, reached a crescendo on September 11, 2001. Based on historical
experience, these attacks usually recede after the generation carrying them out
realizes they are futile, and when the terrorists themselves get a little older,
and fewer in number.
The cause of the terrorism is Moslem, especially
Arab, frustration at their inability to govern themselves well. Most Arab
nations are run by monarchs or dictators (some masquerading as democrats, in
the form of presidents who keep getting elected until they die in office.) Many
Arabs are unhappy with the corruption and inept administration of their
national leaders. But attempts to use terror to overthrow the Arab tyrants
fails, because the tyrants know how to build and operate effective police
states. Westerners overthrowing one of these tyrannies, as in Iraq, is seen as
an insult to Arab pride. The fact that many of these Islamic tyrants harbor
Islamic terrorists planning attacks on the West, is largely ignored by most
Moslems. Such violence in the West is actually quite popular in Arab counties.
People were openly celebrating the September 11, 2001 attacks in Arab
countries, something Arabs like to play down in the West.
Any discussion of the above in the United States,
or Europe, is considered irrelevant, partisan, wrongheaded, or worse. The
troops on the scene see what is really going on, but their views are dismissed
by partisan critics of the war. There's no debate over how the war on terror is
going, only a shouting match, and attempts to score points with a partisan, and
headline hunting, media. Historians will, as usually, have a good time with all
this. It happens again and again. It's one of those things you can depend on.