Nation-Building >> democracy: our only hope | return to front page

"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in Bloglines Subscribe in NewsGator Online Add to netvibes

website stats

Previous Posts
Netflix, Inc.
ThinkGeek T-Shirts will make you cool!
illy coffee - 2 cans, 2 mugs for just $26.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


democracy: our only hope

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, August 24, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
Charles Bird posts a litany of demands of the Administration, naming himself a mamber of the "Dissatisfieds", conservatives who supported George Bush but feel that the war is on track to failure rather than victory if there is not change. I feel his pain here, because though he and I disagreed on which candidate in 2004 was going to get the Job Done, we did agree on what a Done Job should look like.

That said, I doubt his critique is going to gain much traction. Here's why:

Donald Rumsfeld fired, to be replaced with someone who can put together a workable and executable plan for helping deliver a free, peaceful, democratic non-theocracy in Iraq.

Who? Names, please. The only person I can think of is John Abizaid, but is that even remotely going to happen? Morelikely is a cosmetic change of leadership at Dod if anything, which will simply reinformce existing policy. The thing to change is not Rumsfeld, but the President and Vice President's attitude towards the threat. See below.

Enough troops (both Iraq and coalition) to mount successful clear-and-hold counterinsurgency operations.

how many? numbers, please. Where do the troops come from? how soon can they be mobilized? Can present recruiting sustain them? What level of incentives are we prepared to offer? Are we going to lower or raise physical and mental standards for new recruits?

A more concerted effort to get Iraq trained to Level 2 status or better

I think Charles is being unfair here. It seems clear that the best possible effort has already been made to do this. The problem is not lack of effort, its lack of resources.

Better border security, keeping out Iranian infiltrators in the east and Sunni paramilitants in the west.

utterly impossible, as pertains to the Iranian border. As far as Iran goes, the Administration is trying its best to paint Iran as an actionable threat. A diplomatic approach, with security guarantees, would be the better route with Iran. Most of Iran's interference in Iraq, and its nuclear ambition, is driven by its need to have a security posture with respect to us and Israel. The Administration is pursuing a direct confrontational approach, which is the opposite of what is required. Diplomacy with Iran would actually help stabilize Iraq, and the threat to Israel from Iran's nuclear ambitions is a deterrable one through conventional MAD (last I checked, blood enemies India and Pakistan have cooled down their animosity once they both joined the nuclear club, despite analogous hateful rhetoric. After all, autocrats are not bred for suicidal impulses).

A better information war.

Better? in what way? how is our information war underperforming? Specifically? Keep in mind that Hizbollah and the insurgency in Iraq have dramatically different organization and goals.

I believe that I have a single counter-proposal that would, if enacted, immediately improve the prospects for our victory in our long term project in Iraq. And that quite simply is, to be willing to treat each threat as a separable one rather than lump them all together. A refinement of terminology is the first step - especially given the damage that the present lexicon in use does for our prospects.

As Kevin Drum states, we don't have good options. I presently believe that despite popular opinion, keeping a significant troop presence in Iraq will lead to the less-horrible outcome. All outcomes are civil war at this point, though some forms of civil war are more uncivil than others.

I believe that the best we can do is to believe that democracy - even when it results in Islamist gains - is genuinely transformative in the long run. Our troops are, for better or for worse now, the only thing that can buy us that time. Maybe.


Post a Comment


View blog top tags
The Assault on Reason

Obama 2008 - I want my country back

I want my country back - Obama 2008

About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.