Saturday, January 20, 2007

I am still a neocon

And so it seems is Neo-neocon

In an interesting post that includes the history of the rise of Saddam and his war with Iran and the part the US played in that history, Neo-neocon concludes with the following statement:

I wish the world were otherwise. But it's not, and pretending the lion has already lain down with the lamb is an absurdity, or worse. There are plenty of lions out here, about to devour huge herds of lambs, and sometimes all we can do is back the lion who seems less voracious.

The funny thing about the whole thing (and I mean funny-strange, not funny ha-ha) is that it is the neocon philosophy that represents one of the only strategies offering a possible way out of the realpolitik dilemma. And yet those who criticize our realpolitik decisions to back dictators also criticize our neonconnish decisions to overthrow them and try to institute a better and more democratic form of government. Odd, isn't it?

Make no mistake about it, however: the neocon notion that we should attempt actions designed to transform these countries into something better is not an easy one to execute, as Iraq has demonstrated (and, by the way, it does not always involve our waging war--sometimes it involves our supporting internal forces within the country itself, as suggested presently for Iran).

I'm disappointed in the missteps of the Bush administration while occupying Iraq (examples: not stopping the looters, not taking Sadr out, way back when). But I don't believe any of these to be insurmountable even now--if we had the political will in this country to understand how important it is to succeed at the task.

This is the stark choice we face: (1) realpolitik business as usual, "he's a thug but at least he's our thug;" (2) inaction, allowing totalitarian Islamism (or Communism before it) to take over most of the world; or (3) trying to transform these regions into functioning democracies that protect human rights.

The latter is the neocon agenda, and I'm all for it. I consider it the best alternative of the lot. But I don't consider myself naive about how difficult it is to do this and how much of an investment in time, energy, money, blood, and will it would cost to succeed. But the alternatives would ultimately demand a greater human sacrifice, and entail even more suffering.

I have never understood why people think the idea of modernizing the Middle East is a waste of time. We have tried everything else. What is left? Isolationism? I am not sure they would even let us build a wall and hide.


Reliapundit said...

what's left?

well, seriously...

if iraq fails and
if ther dems get the white house
and if we're meg-attacked again,
then the uamerican people will demand we ANNIHILATE the enemy: no smart bombs, no regime change, no occupation: nuke 'em and forget 'em.

alqaeda knows this so after the dem dove lefties abandon iraq (they way they did south vietnam and the contras) alqaeda will focus on secondary targets: israel; kashmir; south thailand; philippines; egypt... etc. - thinking that this way they encourage us to be more isolationist.

terrye said...

I don't think so. I think they will blame Bush who will be down at his ranch and then they will try to appease the enemy, who of course will have no fear of us.

Barry Dauphin said...

Realpolitik was an understandable product of the Cold War, given that the Soviets had about as many ICBMs as we did and controlled Easter Europe and was supporting communist revolutions all over the world and was competing with us in the Middle East.

Given the fall of the Soviet Union and that it will take China a couple of decades to our genuine rival, if we can't veer away from realpolitik now, we never will be able to. If anything like a transformation in the Middle East was going to happen, it is now. If we can't actively promote free (enough) market democracy with institutions to support it now (as the world's only superpower), then when can we?

Iraqis have voted thrice. It's a start. They need time for the institutions to develop that will support and expand democratic principles and respect for minorities. The military and police (ultimately answerable to a democratically elected and representative group) must be in the forefront of that, because there is no democracy possible without security.

I think we keep our troop levels where they were for many reasons, philosophical and practical. I think we were concerned about having too big a footprint, and I think we were concerned about stretching our forces too thin elsewhere. Historians will judge down the road whether those were mistakes. But if we couldn't remove that b@st@rd Saddam at this point, when was he going to go, after the sanctions were lifted?

terrye said...


As the former President Clinton said, if we fail to deal with Saddam he will question our strength of will and assume we lack the courage to do anything about him. That means new weapons would have been built, new damage done to the country of Iraq and more complications than we have now. Sometimes there just are not any good answers.