I’m so mixed up and confused

It is said by administration supporters that we must keep our forces in Iraq in order to preserve our credibility. Question: when we invaded Iraq, was our purpose to establish our credibility? Actually, no. Our purpose was to remove a regime that seemed to possess dangerous WMDs, and, secondarily, to plant democracy in Iraq as the model of a new, non-terrorist Mideast.

The above question suggests similar ones. It is said by administration supporters that we must stay in Iraq to prevent the mass slaughter that would occur in that country if our forces left. Question: when we invaded, was our purpose to prevent mass slaughter? Actually, no. It was to remove a regime that seemed to possess dangerous WMDs, and, secondarily, to plant democracy in Iraq as the model of a new, non-terrorist Mideast

Also, it is said by administration supporters that we must stay in Iraq to prevent Iran gaining power over Iraq. But when we invaded, was our purpose to prevent Iran from gaining power over Iraq? No, it was to remove WMDs and spread democracy.

I just don’t understand … Maybe President Bush can explain it to me.

- end of initial entry -

An Indian living in the West writes:

I think the U.S. has no option but to remain in Iraq indefinitely. What are the likely possibilities if America were to withdraw?

I think the answer is simple: the Shiites who are numerically superior would slaughter the Sunnis and rout them out of all influence in the country. Then Iran would step in and through backhanded moves establish a regime that is essentially Tehran’s puppet. If Iraq was any ordinary country, this wouldn’t matter so much. But Iraq has the second highest oil reserves in the world. Recent estimates are that it has twice the amount of oil previously estimated. That is about 10-15 percent of the world’s known oil reserves. There is no way on earth that America can let Iran exercise that amount of control in the region.

Now if the U.S. had not deposed Saddam, he would have controlled the country and remained a permanent counterweight to the Iranians. Between Saddam and the Iranians, Saddam was the lesser evil. He was a brutal dictator but he was no Islamic revolutionary. And he was far less likely to attack Israel or Saudi Arabia or disrupt the Middle East after the hammering he took in 1991. But Saddam’s departure has left a power vacuum which will be filled one way or another if the U.S. leaves.

LA replies:

So the U.S. simply has to keep an army in Iraq forever, to prevent the possibilly of Iran gaining hegemony over Iraq. It seems to me ILW is treating one possibilty as a certainty. Further, his argument is based on the premise that the U.S. is responsible for organizing the Muslim world, maintaining power balances within the Muslim world, and so on. This is like a death sentence for the United States.

It seems to me that if Iran is such a terrible threat and the prospect of Iran gaining power over Iraq is so unacceptable to us that we must keep our forces in Iraq forever to prevent that from happening, then the logical conclusion is that we must destroy such a dangerous regime.

A reader offers another suggestion below.

Andrew E. writes:

why don’t we just take the oil fields? what are they—Iraqis, Iranians—going to do about it? Why ruin our entire army if it’s merely the oil weapon we can’t lose? Isn’t everyone—Democrats, Republicans—always talking about finding ways to end the wealth transfer to the Middle East? Problem solved.

Mark Jaws writes:

You cannot possibly be confused as President Bush is. In him is a man, who throughout his tortured presidency has claimed the following: (1) Those who opposed the nomination of Harriet Miers must have been “anti-women;” (2) Those who sat guard on the border with binoculars and cell phones to assist the beleagured Border Patrol must have been “vigilantes;” (3) Those who insist the federal government actually enforce our immigration laws must have been “xenophobes;” but (4) those Mexicans who illegally snuck into our country in violation of our sovereignty and who will undoubtedly drop out of school, go on welfare, have illegitimate children, and commit crimes at rates far above the national average, must have been driven by “family values.”

This political doctor gives you a clean bill of health, Mr. Auster. But as for El Presidente Boosh, I diagnose a severe case of inverted cerebro-rectum dysfunction.

M. Jose writes:

While I agree that I don’t think we ought to stay in Iraq, I do not agree with your column’s implication that there is something illogical about the reasons for staying in Iraq being different for the reasons for invading in the first place.

Even if we invaded for the purpose of destroying what we perceived to be a dangerous regime, to destroy WMDs, and for implanting democracy, once we invaded the situation changed, and therefore the strategic options involving Iraq changed. So new reasons to stay might pop up.

For example, when we invaded Germany in World War II, our purpose was to destroy the Nazi regime. However, by the 1950s, the main reason we stayed was not to prevent another Nazi takeover but to defend Germany from the U.S.S.R. and its allies.

It is debatable whether or not preventing mass slaughter, maintaining U.S. credibility, or preventing Iran from getting power over Iraq are worthwhile reasons to stay in Iraq. It can certainly be argued that some of these reasons only exist because of the initial invasion. But I do not see anything fundamentally incoherent about the reasons for staying in Iraq being different than the reasons for going in.

LA replies:

When the very people making these arguments never mention how we got from “there” to “here,” i.e., from invading Iraq for WMDs and democracy to having to stay in Iraq to prevent mass slaughter, an Iranian takeover, and loss of U.S. credibility, then it does become confusing. Of course you and I know how this happened in reality. It happened because we destroyed Iraq’s only existing form of order, evil despotism, and replaced it with “freedom,” i.e., chaos and sectarian civil war, thus leading to the possibility of mass slaughter, Iranian takeover, and U.S. loss of credibility. So, the fact that this happened is not what is incoherent or impossible to understand. What is incoherent and impossible to understand are the arguments of the people who are saying we must stay in Iraq. My mock-plaintive title, “I’m so mixed up and confused,” is a humorous expression of the befuddlement of a reasonably rational person trying to follow on its own terms a debate that has led us from “We are the instrument of God, spreading democracy over the earth!” to “We can’t leave Iraq or there will be mass murder!” with nary a word as to how the first led to the second or even any reference to the fact that the first led to the second. The title is a gesture of protest against the quasi-Orwellian reality in which we now live. “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia!”—“We’ve always been in Iraq in a desperate effort to prevent mass slaughter and an Iranian takeover!”

And that “always” is no joke. As I’ve pointed out about 136 times since 2003 (though it may have been 142 times), the logic of our involvement means we must stay there forever, because we have no strategy to win, and if we leave the bad people will take over. But, in another Orwellian twist, the bad people we’re concerned will take over are, uh, the Shi’ite government we’ve helped create and are backing. It used to be we were afraid that our Sunni insurgent enemies would take over and slaughter people; but now we’re afraid that our Shi’ite allies will take over and slaughter people. I’m so mixed up and confused….

Mark Jaws writes:

I agree wholeheartedly with Andrew E.—we should ultimately be only concerned with the oil fields and be prepared to seize and hold them—forever, if necessary. That task is a whole lot easier than trying to bring Arab Moslems into the 21st century. I personally could not care less if Iran took control of most of Iraq because it would result in thousands of fatwas being decreed throughout the Arab Sunni world calling for jihad against the non-Arab Persian usurper. With any luck, Iran may become hopelessly bogged down in Iraq, and see its own stability shaken. All that matters is the oil. Let’s simply say so and admit the Arab Moslem is not worth the sacrifice.

LA replies:

What you say about the possibility of Iraq becoming Iran’s Vietnam illustrates how weird is the idea of our trying to “game” the Mideast. No one can say how anything would work out over there. Something that may seem calamitous, like an Iranian takeover of Iraq, may turn out to be positive. We cannot even begin to direct or organize the internal affairs of that world for our own benefit. We must aim at what is indispensable—eliminating intolerable threats, gaining control of oil fields on a temporary basis if that is necessary—and not concern ourselves with anything beyond that.

Leonard K. writes:

Taking the oil fields in the Middle East is a brilliant idea, not only in Iraq and Iran, but in Saudi Arabia. That would be the real “war on terror” because, without funding, terror would cease to exist!

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 28, 2007 01:19 PM | Send

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