+ Jaq writes:
I also reject any notion, really, that fighting in Iraq constitutes any kind of convincing theater in a "Global War on Terror", or "Global Struggle Against Extremism", or whatever it is they're calling it these days. Iraq had an odious regime under Saddam, but it wasn't connected much at all to the more pernicious worldwide Islamic extremist terrorism that's the real problem these days.
I think that the war in Iraq has helped to localize terrorist activity in the Middle East. This goes along with the other positive correlations I argue for and that you disallowed in your first comment.
+ My email response yesterday to what John has posted as comments 4 and 5 today:
Thank you for your long reply. Sure is difficult to see how we're going to find common ground to even agree to disagree.
I don't see anything in your response that I flat-out disagree with. You may be right all the way around.
I hope it won't come to inevitable withdrawal and civil war.
You are right: the insurgents don't need to 'win'. Makes this kind of war even harder, which the Bush Admin. obviously vastly underestimated.
On the Turks and Kurdistan I can only say that Tom was not joking.
America is over-proud. More American decision-makers should consider the Law of Unintended Consequences. Bush was wrong when he campaigned on no more nation building (b/c he's done it big-time in the end - you could argue 'nation destroying' - and on subsequent lack of preparedness). He was wrong about the WMDs (and I think he 'shepherded' the CIA conclusions). Rumsfeld was wrong in his lack of and wrong preparations and lack of troops for the occupation.
Still, with all of those mistakes (you can probably add to the list), I hope something good can result. It may be all wishful thinking. I hope, for the sake of the Iraqi people and the Americans who have died and those bereft, that you are wrong. We will certainly see. I will be willing to say you were right if things go as you say.
+ Concerning John's comment #6: regarding a 10-point plan for pulling out:
I just don't think we can pull out and say the Iraqis have to sink or swim. We need to try a lot more, a lot harder before we make that decision.
Tom Barnett argues that new governments should not be substantially armed because of the temptation to tip back into civil war. He argues that it is better to have peackeepers who can stabilize security until the new government can get its feet beneath it.
I'm already on the record that we don't need more concessions to the Sunnis. They need to cooperate some. They had lots of years of favoritism on their side. Their fall from 'grace' will be hard and we don't have to ameliorate it.
Cole's goal is extraction of US troops without civil war. Then he's resigned to complete US withdrawal in acquiescence to the Ayatollah of Najaf. That's an unacceptable 'goal'.
+ By way of rejoinder, and something that will probably make Jaq and John really mad, though that's not my goal, I give you Christopher Hitchens' A War to Be Proud Of (via kottke).