The Corner

Re: Iraq and Today’s G-File

From a reader:

Terrific column!

Some points:

1. I haven’t heard anyone arguing with the proposition that we must take the fight to the Islamicists. The question is, where is that fight? For those of us who say that a good part of it is on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, we’d have to admit that we’re getting more-than-expected cooperation from Musharraf. How’d we manage that? Whatever we’re doing to get Musharraf to cooperate, we ought to be doing more of that in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, etc.

2. Our “war burden” in Iraq is far higher than you acknowledge. We had to be 100% dead-on accurate in our reasons for war, and supermen in the way we prosecuted that war and the recovery afterward, because we were playing for the world’s acceptance and cooperation in future wars of preemption. In an hour, we’ll see an example of just how poorly our prosecution of the war and the recovery played throughout the world (when Bush addresses the U.N.).

3. Point #2 is critical because we don’t want to have to draft 20 million Americans to fight wars against Islamicists. We want the Pakistans, Jordans and Egypts to do it for us. Yeah, we can go it alone if we have to — but we’ll be in WWII again, or worse.

4. On a different note, I am always amazed by conservatives’ descriptions of Soviet mentality. You describe the Soviets as “rational.” If the Soviets were rational, they would have recognized that the US was never going to attack them with nuclear weapoons, right? Why, then, did the Soviets arm themselves to death? You don’t see France arming itself to the teeth against us.

Me:

1. Fair enough. However, this notion that al Qaeda — never mind the Islamist threat — can be destroyed if we destroy those guys in Afghanistan is, I think, fanciful. We just saw an American beheaded by the al Qaeda chief in Iraq. That al Qaeda chief has made it clear that the battle for Iraq is vital to al Qaeda’s cause. Moreover, the source of the problem isn’t Afghanistan it’s the Arab Middle East. You cannot fix the problem without fixing the source. Also: I think Pakistan and those Arab countries are apples and oranges, alas.

2. That just doesn’t wash. It was clear from the begining that the war was unpopular with the rest of the world and would have been even if we found WMDs.

3. That’s a pretty far reaching hypothetical. And it misses the point. I for one still believe in the reverse domino theory. If we stand-up a prospering and democratizing Iraq, it will be very difficult for the neighbors to stay tyrannical for long.

4. I think you over-read my use of the term “rational.” The Mafia is rational in that it approaches issues with a cost-benefit mentality. That doesn’t mean a “rational person” would choose to join the mob. As for France, I have given up trying to explain when, where or why it chooses to pick fights and when it doesn’t.

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