Niall Ferguson is a good egg, but I found his WSJ piece on the need for us
to stay in Iraq (“Woodrow Wilson didn’t try hard enough…”) underwhelming.
He says we shall have to police the place for 10 years. It might as
easily turn out to be 20 (rather as GWB’s 400bn Medicaid package is now at
700bn plus, and counting…) Does anyone really think that Arabs will
tolerate a 10-year occupation? Even assuming that the U.S. electorate will.
And what if something REALLY IMPORTANT happens in those 10 years? (I do not
consider the future of Iraq an important matter.) What if Saudi Arabia goes
pear shaped? What if Pakistan blows up? Can we deal with that, while
coping with Iraq?
And I don’t think U.S. troops are well suited to a 10-year occupation.
Armies are designed to break things and kill people. The U.S. armed forces
do those things superbly well, God bless them, as they demonstrated in 2003.
But holding the line between Shias and Sunnis?
We hear a lot about the good things our troops are doing for the Iraqi
people. I don’t doubt the truth of these stories. However, I get, and I’m
sure my colleagues must get, a lot of other kinds of e-mail from guys in the
field in Iraq–though generally with an attached plea not to print them.
It ain’t all sweetness and light out there. A lot of our guys are
frustrated and disgusted. A lot of them really, really dislike the Iraqis.
I hate to be the one to break this news.
Personally, I neither like nor dislike the Iraqis. I just couldn’t care
less about them. My touchstone is Winston Churchill’s fine statement of
Tory foreign-affairs philosophy: “I have lived for 78 years without hearing
of bloody places like Cambodia.” I want my country to be secure, proud and
prosperous. I don’t believe a democratic Iraq is a necessary condition for
our security, pride, or prosperity. And an awful lot of things can happen
in 10 years.