Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Iraqi musical chairs

gurufrisbee is out today celebrating his first week off from school, so I'll be "guestblogging" for him. I'm choosing a topic I know is near and dear to his heart, the Iraq War. Specifically can I talk about President Bush's speech last night? Due to my stomach bug, I was up to watch his speech. I was completely unimpressed. President Bush didn't say anything new and didn't offer us any hope for a brighter and better Iraq. At best, we should stay the course because we don't have any other alternative. The pragmatist in me says that is probably the case, but the idealist in gurufrisbee screams out that we shouldn't have been there in the first place and shouldn't be there now. I might be psychofrenic, but I agree with both positions.

As for the speech, there is too much to go through - it was a mediocre speech, given by a mediocre president during mediocre times. So let me highlight two things. My least favorite line and my least favorite line of reasoning.

My least favorite line from the speech last night was, "Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." Doesn't that make this war sound like a game of musical chairs? Isn't that just empty rhetoric? Does that really explain why we are building permanent bases in Iraq and negotiating with terrorists?

My least favorite reasoning is tough. I'd say it was the continually false association between Iraq and the Al-Qaeda attacks on September 11th, but that has been debunked on several occasions. Most famously by the 9-11 commission itself. So for that reason, my least favorite line of reasoning is the "fly-paper" reasoning. It is the justification for the war that goes like this..."And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens – and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there … we will fight them across the world." Basically we fight them there so they don't come here and thus the fly paper moniker. There are just so many holes in this..
  1. It assumes there are a finite number of 'terrorists' who we can kill and be done with.

  2. Added to this, is the idea -- as antiquated as it is ridiculous -- that fighting 'the terrorists' in Iraq prevents them from hitting us in the United States. Have these fools heard about globalization? Our FBI and CIA don't think Bin Laden can spare a couple dozen jihadis to come over here to spring another 9/11 on us?

This "fly paper" reasoning is like saying I'm never going to vacuum one room in my house so I can battle dust bunnies on my own terms.

Clearly that analogy breaks down if taken too far, but point is clear: everyone who is not an utter fool knows that the number of young and disaffected men in the Muslim world who are potentially willing to take up arms against America is, for practical geopolitical purposes, all but infinite. Killing those already bent on suicide missions againt the US is undeniably a good thing. However doing so in a way that is guaranteed to replace them with ten new volunteers is the most foolish way to go about it. It is the classic case of dousing the fire with gasoline.

If America IS the problem over there, maybe we need to consider getting out. For our sake and the Iraqis.