Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Iraq: The Debate

Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy is offering a challenge about Iraq. I accept.
First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?
People call this the War in Iraq. Its not the War in Iraq, its the Battle of Iraq. The War is against Islamic Terrorists, not a single country.

Most of our military might in mideast was tied up containing Saddam Hussein's Iraq, how can you conclude that Iraq is completely secondary? Two years ago we basically had two options, either withdraw US forces to free them up for offensive action elsewhere or make Iraq the target. We chose the later. I believe it to be the right choice. Saddam Hussein was too dangerous to be left alone especially without containment or sanctions.

Now that the threat of Hussein is gone what do we do? We rebuild the country into one that will put pressure on the terrorist backing regimes in the area, specifically Syria and Iran. We know that freedom is more productive and more attractive than tyranny. If we can teach that freedom to the Iraqis then the other regimes in the region will have to follow suit or fall behind. That is what makes this worth it. That is the heart of the Battle of Iraq and what links it to the entire campaign. If democracy in Iraq succeeds it will force a complete change in the underlying culture of the region. Its a gamble, but I think it can succeed.
Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?
I don't dispute that bad things are happening in Iraq. Its a war. War is hell. Similarly a lot is being made of things not going to plan. A wise man once said that a plan in wartime never survives the first shot.

It think we have a good idea of what is going wrong. The problem with the news is that we have no idea about what is going right. All we get is body counts with no mention of accomplishments. How can you base a decision on just that? You cannot do a proper cost-benefit analysis if all you have is costs.
Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?
Is Iraq a freedom loving democracy, representative of its people? If so we will have won. If Iraq slides into Islamic Fundamentalism like Iran or back into B'aathist Dictatorial Fascism then we will have lost.

It does not matter if they like us. It only matters if they value the same freedoms we do like freedom of expression, self-defense, and religion. That will be enough. That will change their world.

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