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?
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?
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?
I'm always up for a challenge.
***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?***
Yes, the invasion of Iraq was a good idea, for several reasons. One, we removed a brutal dictator that we should have removed over a decade ago. If the USA had done what we needed to do in 1991 this entire question would be moot. As it is, G.H.W. Bush gave in to "multilateralism" and left Saddam in power. The end result was thousands of people slaughtered, murdered, raped, terrorized, and held under his thumb for twelve years. His defiance of international law, his refusal to disclose his weapons programs, the ecological destruction committed by his government, and the hundreds of mass graves that we've uncovered are all examples of why we did the right thing.
Furthermore, the rift exposed between the USA and some EU countries has opened the eyes of many Americans about just who our friends are, and who our enemies are. The connection between France, Russia and the UN in regards to the UN "Oil-for-Food" scandal cannot be ignored, although many people on the Left wish it could be
And last, the strategic importance of where we are in the Middle East cannot be ignored. There are few who doubt that Iran is the major sponsor of international terrorism, and we're going to have to deal with them sooner or later. The hate and bloodmoney pouring out of Iran must be dealt with in order to curb terrorism. We now have American military troops stationed on both sides of Iran.
Let me restate that: WE NOW HAVE AMERICAN MILITARY TROOPS STATIONED ON BOTH SIDES OF IRAN. When (not if) we deal with Iran, we have several divisions of troops a stone's throw away from the Iranian border. This could not have been accomplished without the invasion of Iraq. It was not the primary goal or focus, but I'm sure it was a consideration of the administration when looking at how to deal with terrorist enabling dictators in the Middle East.
***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 think that the Mainstream Media is doing anything and everything they can in order to get John Kerry elected. Were this not an election year, I don't think we'd hear half as many horror stories, and we'd be seeing much more positive news coming out of Iraq. As it is, the US troops who have access to the news wonder if those journalists are even living in the same world as the rest of us. The stories that make it back to the USA do not tell the truth about what is happening in Iraq.
All one has to do is read the words of the Iraqis who now have their own blogs to see the discrepancy between the Mainstream Media and reality. Reading what our own military members have to say vs. what the Mainstream Media puts out just widens that gulf. As evidenced by CBS's memo scandal, mainstream journalism is no longer interested in facts or truth. They only care about ideology and John Kerry in the White House.
***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?***
The coming months? The continued rebuilding of Iraqi infrastructure in the form of schools, water treatment plants, hospitals, roads, bridges, oil pipelines, and the like. The fact that there are more hospitals open, with more types of treatment than when Saddam was in power shows that we are already successful in part. Over the long term, a free, democratic Iraq would be the indicator of success. I don't think that Iraq as an American protectorate (much like the American Samoas or Guam) would be a success. Iraq must be free and democratic, perhaps in several partnerships with the USA, or with American military bases (like Germany, Japan and South Korea). One of the goals of this war was to make Iraq free. Anything less, and we've failed in that goal.
However, this may take years. It took over a decade for Germany and Japan, and it may take close to that long in Iraq. I myself predict that it will happen in five years, but that's a quick guess. I'm probably wrong.
If any other blogger wants to answer Mr. Volokh, answer the questions in a single post and email the link to orinkerr at yahoo.com. If anyone wants to leave their quick answers in the comments, I'll do my best to update this post and put your answers up.
UPDATE: A few people have given their answers, so here they are:
From a commenter calling themselves "That said" -
This is my answer. It is how I feel. (In two parts) 1) There is, or there should be, a nobility in helping the oppressed. Not nobility in a regal sense but nobility as it relates to honor. For me our intervention serves to validate the principles our country was founded on. With apologies to Burke, good men are doing something and evil should not prevail for it. It gives me pride that we intervened. That pride has been tempered somewhat by sadness I feel for the families who have lost loved ones in the conflict.
2) We hear the question, “Is it worth it?” being asked of late. I believe that the real question, hidden between the lines no-one really wanting to ask openly is not, “Is it worth it?” but rather, “Are they worth it?” Who are “they”? They in the question are the Iraqis in particular and Muslims in general.
Criteria for success, in my opinion, is whether or not “They” can prove that they are indeed worth it, with all of the implications, nuanced or not, that that implies.
That said; failure in the end will not detract from the nobility of the attempt. It will however, bode ill for all of our futures.
Jason Kallini answers #2 and #3 -
2)Despite the increase in frequency in terrorist attacks in Iraq, there has been no evidence of an increase in sophistication or deviousness.
The terrorists seem to be attacking anyone, anywhere.
Successful insurgencies throughout history involved the insurgents targeting military targets, and then forcing the occupying power into retaliating against the civilian population. Doing such a thing inspires more civilians to join the insurgency, or at least aid them, until you have a fullblown rebellion on your hands.
No insurgency can work without the support of the general populace, and that the terrorists do not have. They are busy alienating and scaring the civilian population, which will only drive the people closer to Coalition forces.
3)As the Iraqi National Guard grows and secures the border, the supplies of terrorists will dwindle. Simultaneously, 3 other things will happen.
1. The US will crush the major pockets of resistance--Fallujah--before the upcoming election, destroying the major safe havens and power bases of the terrorists.
2. Iraqi police will grow in number, securing the cities themselves from local, small time criminals, and their intelligence networks will build until they can bust safe houses and other undergound networks.
3. Elections will happen in January, solidifying Iraqi loyalty behind their own government, and every future attack will prove that there is no patriotism behind terrorist acts. This will be even more apparent if the elected President is not a big fan of the US.
If you throw in the potential Iranian rebellion that my brother blogged on today, the terrorists' support may be pulled even more quickly.
And Bullshark answers all three -
1) We do what is right because it is right. In 1991 we gave in to the "allies" and look what it caused. I was on the tip of the spear at that time. 3Bde, 82nd ABN.
2) When the dog bites man it is not news. So every story from Iraq is man biting dog.
3) We are currently talking about pulling out of Germany, after 59 years. So success will come but I may not live to see it. The measurement will be not if they love us but if they never again attack their neighbors or harbor those who attack us.