The Corner

Derb On Iraq

A few things:

1) What made the full-scale civil war fizzle was not an absence of war materiel. You don’t need heavy equipment to go kill your neighbors. Rifles will suffice. There wasn’t a full-scale civil war because all the major political players calculated their interests and realized it would be a disaster and worked together to pull the country back from the brink. That’s just the fact. Will it hold? No one knows.

2) Perhaps moral infrastructure wasn’t a great phrase for Peters to use. But is is true that Saddam decimated Iraqi civil society, so when we got to Iraq, after the regime collapsed all that was left was the clerics and the tribes. I believe Tom Friedman has written about this, and it too is pretty much accepted as a fact.

3) When it comes to Iraqi battalions, it would be nice if they could operate independently. They can’t. The important thing to look at is how many can operate with the kind of help from us that we can give fairly easily–advisers, logistics, air support, etc. That number is growing, and even the mainstream media has been reporting progress on that front.

4) Discounting the economic activity in Iraq as Iraqis getting tired of sitting at home after a year or two is unfair. I’m pretty sure that all this stuff–driving cars, opening businesses, etc.–began to shoot up immediately after Saddam’s toppling.

5) On what it takes, mostly what we need to muster now is a little more patience. We aren’t going to pour more troops into Iraq, we aren’t going to irradiate anything, and we aren’t going to maintain the current level of our effort–130,000 troops–forever. We are going to keep trying–with mixed success obviously–to keep the security situation reasonably in control, while trying to foster a rough political consensus and building up Iraq security forces (with more focus now on the police, I hope). Derb might be right in the end that it doesn’t work, but having come this far, it would be folly simply to throw up our hands.

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