The Corner

Excellent Hoagland Yesterday

He argues that we are not tough enough in Iraq. Two central points:

1) We need to show that hostile forces will pay for their opposition: “From May 1 through yesterday, 149 American soldiers died from hostile fire in Iraq. Juxtapose against that grim statistic this number: 0. That is the total of legally sanctioned executions or lengthy prison sentences announced for anyone aiding, planning or carrying out these attacks. Those arrested in American roundups disappear from public view. While there may be rough battlefield justice in U.S. operations, there is no visible retribution against Saddam Hussein’s dead-enders or foreign jihadists for Iraqi civilians to see and to take into account. There is instead the appearance of a cat-and-mouse game in which American troops, who know little of local conditions, personalities and languages, stumble endlessly down blind alleys or into ambushes.”

2) The Sunni areas need tough love, not soothing lectures about democracy: “But for the Sunni areas that seem to have willingly become the sea in which the insurgent fish swim, democracy is a code word for domination by the country’s Shiite majority. The Sunnis fear that democratic elections would enable the Shiites to do unto them as they did unto the Shiites under their co-religionist, the dictator Saddam Hussein.

The United States has failed thus far to develop a strategy that convinces them otherwise and splits the Sunni population from the killers based among them. The Sunnis still respond to the efforts to construct a fair and free political system in Iraq with the age-old question: What’s in it for us?

Emphasizing the wonders of democracy will have much less immediate effect on them than will emphasizing the price they will have to pay for continuing to let the killer fish swim in their midst. The Baathists have not yet accepted that they have lost power forever. Forcefully convincing them that they are wrong is the first urgent step toward democracy in the Middle East.”


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