The Corner

A war for stability

I think Stanley’s posts the last few days have been excellent, including the last one. He has also pointed out how breaking down the current intra-conservative debate between realists and neo-cons is simplistic. If you think about it, what are we waging a war for in Iraq at the moment if not that supreme realist value of stability? Or maybe I should say “stability,” rendering it with the sneer quotes that some neo-cons tended to use for the word not so long ago. As Stanley points out, we have created a government with a kind of democratic legitimacy in Iraq, but have not created one with enough sheer coercive authority. If you could magically re-apportion the two right now (but you can’t realistically), you would clearly trade some of the democratic legitimacy for coercive authority. Neo-cons have tended to trumpet the virtues of democracy, realists the importance of order and stability. If both sides have their blind spots and flaws, the strengths of the realists’ position has been highlighted recently. Order and stability look very alluring right now, and are exactly what we are fighting to create in Iraq.

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