David Brooks Cribs haystack;Doomsday Crowd and 'Stay the Course' Crew Offer No Iraq Alternatives but Continue to Deny Reality
Like haystack (and many others on the right side of the political spectrum), David Brooks paints a scary doomsday scenario in his column today, portraying a future Middle East in chaos under the control of radical lunatics.
We have been told numerous times by the right that we liberals and Democrats "just don't get it" on Iraq and the Middle East; that we are staring down the barrel of a caliphate, world terrorism on an unimaginable scale, lost control of oil resources, world economic collapse, etc.
Yeah, maybe. And maybe if Vietnam falls, all of Southeast Asia will instantly become communist and then communism will spread and be knocking at our door!
That is why I call all this handwringing and doomsday predicting, "The New Domino Theory."
What is absent from every single one of these nightmare scenario presentations is any attempt to discuss the current realities in Iraq in rational terms -- not unlike those who clung desperately to the Domino Theory in Vietnam while failing to address our steady bloodletting there.
I posted a diary over at Daily Kos on Friday, "Let's all pretend there's an Iraqi army. So we can bring our troops home" , in which I outlined how the Big Lie of training an effective Iraqi fighting force was perpetuated in the ISG report, continues to be peddled by Bush, and even has Democrats desperately clinging to it as sheepskin to cover our exit and its inevitable ugly aftermath. (And, yes, it will get even more ugly.)
Ender kindly dropped in and asked questions (but offered no solutions, par for the course from the handwringers).
And I responded with questions of my own. Ender and I agreed that I would post my questions here for discussion rather than carry on a dialogue in my dkos diary that had passed into archive oblivion.
Don't we have some responsibility to iraqis to not just let them twist in the wind? Even if their military will not be ready anytime soon.
Of course, his faux concern for the welfare of Iraqis is belied by his own comments further down the thread:
yeah the situation sucks and I do not trust their government, so the only opinion we should trust is our own. Which is why we are going through this phase of examining the situation. So I guess the point is, Iraqi public opinion is not the final determining factor. And dem leaders seem to agree.
In the space of just a few minutes, Ender goes from caring for Iraqis to dismissing their opinions as invalid because only our own opinion matters.
So I asked him the following questions:
What do you have to offer?
What are your thoughts?
Do you think we are actually training an Iraqi army? And if so, do you have cites to back up your claim?
What information can you provide from credible sources that suggests the situation in Iraq is improving due to our continued presence? What metrics do you suggest we use to measure improvement?
Do you want to send more troops? If so, how many and for how long?
You say that Iraqi public opinion is not defining. How does American public opinion figure into your calculus given the results of today's AP poll on Iraq?
Is it possible to sustain an American presence in Iraq over the long term when public opinion in both the U.S. and Iraq is overwhelmingly opposed to our presence?
Ender returns to being all about the welfare of Iraqis in this comment:
we are occupying a nation and we screwed some stuff up. Because we screwed some stuff up, or at least played a part in creating the current situation, I feel we have some responsibility to the people there to leave them in a better situation than now.
Based on our own estimates, if we leave right now, there is a great possibility of degeneration into a much more violent situation. If the people there want us to leave but we think that it would cause more death, we are acting in their own best interests by temporarily ignoring the public opinion.
So to me, morally, this is comparable to someone who wants to do something that will potentially lead to his death, and I am ignoring his wishes while trying to save him.
This from a guy who is all about our interests. Amusing, really.
My questions to this comment:
This is too easy...
... I feel we have some responsibility to the people there to leave them in a better situation than now.
Given that the trajectory of the situation has gone steadily downhill over the course of our time in Iraq to the point now where the country is producing less oil, there are fewer hours of daily electricity, the number of civilian deaths continues to climb, the stability of the government and government agencies has continued to decline, our casualty rate has gone up, the cost to us has steadily risen per month, and all of these trends do not show any signs of reversing direction, how, exactly, do you propose that we "leave them in a better situation than now?"
Please be specific.
There's the crux of the matter. If one really believes in the doomsday scenarios offered by many on the right, what do we do in Iraq, given that training an Iraqi army has been a failure and, in the very best case by our military's own estimate, will take 10-12 years and the only real alternative to more trained Iraqi troops is an overwhelming U.S. force, an increase of three to four times the troop levels we have there now?
Finally, Ender offers this:
well not necessarily Bush but a lot of our leaders (including dems) and military say that if we pull out now, the civil war would grow much worse and the whole place might blow up.
Do Iraqis understand the repercussions? Their government seems to understand it in begging for us to stay (though of course they also care about their own survival). But it is clear that all that is standing between the current situation and an abyss, is the US military.
Nevermind the implication that the Iraqis are too stupid to understand the consequences of a U.S. pullout (even though more than 70% of Iraqis want us out).
Let's follow your logic here...
... if we pull out now, the civil war would grow much worse and the whole place might blow up.
So what are you suggesting? That we stay indefinitely because "the whole place might blow up?"
And if you're not suggesting that, then what are you suggesting, exactly?
That's the ultimate question for the doomsday crowd, isn't it?
What are your suggestions on Iraq?
John McCain proposes some ass-covering window dressing (20,000 more troops) so that he can later say (when we eventually get out), "See? I wanted to send more troops and no one would listen!" We need 400,00 to 500,000 troops to quell the insurgency, according to military experts.
So what does the doomsday crowd have to offer on Iraq? An indefinite continuation of the status quo? A hundred Americans killed every month, hundreds more injured, an ever-rising tide of Iraqi casualties, and a never-ending flow of our tax dollars (now rolling out at $8 billion a month and increasing) for as far as the eye can see?
And please spare me the "train up Iraqis with more American trainers" baloney. If you go read my dairy, you'll see that the Marine in charge of training our trainers said any such program would take a decade, minimum, to have the desired effect.
So, please, Ender, haystack, Steve, GoRight and any other rightie lurkers, share your ideas on what we do in Iraq.
Because short of anything reasonable or based in reality, I say it's time to get out. We are doing nothing to improve the situation. By every metric, the situation is deteriorating.
Bring our people home.