Saturday, March 25, 2006

Clarity on Iraq

It's tough keeping up on all the good articles in Reformed Blogdom, but I'm still thinking about the Triabloguer's reflections on "The Lessons of Iraq."

The toppling of Sadaam may have been wrongheaded from the start (which I do not necessarily grant), but this does not give the political opposition (read: Democrats and sundry leftists) an unlimited right to undermine America's efforts to win the war in Iraq.

As the Triabloguer points out, "Bush was never banking on a military solution to the threat of global jihad. Military intervention was intended to be a temporary ground-clearing exercise. The idea was to democratize Iraq and use the Iraqi domino to democratize the remainder of the Mideast, on the theory that the root-cause of militant Islam was political and economic rather than religious or ethnic."

While this theory is flawed, the right and left share its materialistic assumptions. The modern Westerner generally thinks that all problems can be solved by remediating poverty through setting up a political system that either a) redistributes wealth, or b) allows a free market economy to maximize efficiency and profit, or c) a combination of the two. The optimistic Neocons think that a people, given the chance, will vote such governments into power. They are also banking on the capacity of national constitutions based on the American model to diffuse the concentration of sectarian (read: religious) and ideological interests, maintaining an ordered civility. Such a constitutional system with its lauded "checks and balances" allows potentially destabilizing interests to have a voice, without resorting to the ruthless suppression of political opposition.

While I have favored this strategy, it may be that too many Muslims will choke on the rampant modernization, commercialization, and secularization that inevitably accompanies this "new world order." This is why it makes sense that Iraq's new constitution makes a great deal of reference to Islam, while Sadaam's regime was secular in its conception and its workings. The purpose of the Iraqi experiment is to see if a moderate Islamic democracy can survive. It is almost certainly the most humanitarian preemptive war ever fought in history.

The Triabloguer writes,

"Bush was assuming that democracy enjoys universal appeal.

"If it can work here, it can work anywhere.Suppose his vision is flawed. What’s the alternative?

"If the political solution is a bust, then the alternative is not a non-violent solution. To the contrary, if the political solution is a bust, then the only solution is a military solution.

"If we can’t reason with Muslims, if we are unable to even get “moderate” Muslims to stand up for themselves, even when we stand behind them, then the solution is more war, not less.

"If we fail in Iraq, it is only because we chose to wage a war of liberation rather than a war of destruction. American has the military might to win any war of destruction. The only thing that constrains us is conscience, and not a lack of firepower. It has always been within our power to subdue the Iraqis by brute force."

Given the political realities of our day, I think Bush's initiative in Iraq is the most promising solution to the problem of militant Islam. I am unaware of any realistic alternative that has been proposed. John Kerry "had a plan" but he was only proposing tactical rather than strategic solutions to the war. The antiwar nihilists have no solution, and it remains to be seen if they are successful in crippling the American will to win the peace.

The Triabloguer is right: If Bush fails, the future is darker rather than brighter.

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