Wednesday, December 21, 2011

OP-ED COLUMNIST: The End, for Now by Thomas Friedman

    • Rob DL
    • Connecticut
    • Trusted
    An honest and levelheaded assessment of the current plight of Iraq, free from the normal hysteria and emotional outbursts that we've come to expect whenever the subject is mentioned.
    I never considered Tom Friedman necessarily to be a brave man, but after writing this piece in waters full of sharks ready to chomp if someone acknowledges Saddam was a "homicidal dictator", I suppose he deserves the designation.

    It is certainly possible to have opposed the war and/or it's conduct while at the same time acknowledging the obvious: Saddam was a brutal megalomaniac who went as far as gassing a whole race of people, and Iraq is certainly better off without him. The fact that many of us can't mention this without being accused of warmongering, speaks to the irrationality the Iraq War instigates even when all we're trying to do is assess the odds of success moving forward.

    Much of Iraq's chances of success rest on it's ability to put aside religious/sectarian differences for the sake of working together. Based on this criteria, I have little hope for a long-lasting solution for Iraq.
      • beethy
      • CA
      • Trusted
      We sure grossly "over paid" for our groundless involvement in Iraq. Even the promoters, known apologists for the war, agree (though grudgingly) how wrong we were.

      Now that we are out, just think of what we left behind: Now, the highest ranking Sunni in that 'democratically' government has fled to Kurd part of the country in face of an arrest warrant against him for planning to kill people (which he denies).

      We cannot be involved in 'nation building' unless people of that country desperately want it but cannot by themselves: We sure can help, while we have crying needs at home.

      We cannot force-feed democracy on a country, unless people in that country want it, nurture it and protect it when they get it.

      We have learned some hard lessons, but have we really learned anything, and would do better in the future???
        • Tim B
        • Seattle
        • Trusted
        You write about strategic decisions as if the U.S. were playing a game of chess. Any country as a sovereign nation is going to resent the invasion of its borders by any foreign power, especially one as drunk on power as we were prior to going into this war. A fiasco.

        I knew there was something seriously wrong with decisions coming from the Bush administration when there were already murmurings about Iraq just days after 9-11 ... and Cheney early on said that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. I also recall Saddam desperately trying to appease the United States by attempting to comply with demands that one of its types of missiles, as I recall which had a range only slightly longer than that 'allowed', be destroyed. News accounts pre-invasion related that those missiles were being mechanically crushed.

        There was no appeasing the hawks of the Bush administration, intent on going in and doing their 'shock and awe' presentation, and attempting to remake that country into one acceptable to the neo-cons philosophy. And allowing us unfettered access to their oil. Anyone who bought into that line of blarney about the necessity of that war was not paying attention at all to the events leading up to it. Your reasoning then was seriously flawed, and from what I read in today's column, it still is.
        1. No that we have left the world will witness firsthand the hatred between Sunni and Shitte. Iraq is destined to fall into a power struggle between Islamic forces unfriendly to the U.S. and friends with Iran. Or a regional power of its own with internal strife going on for decades. We left it better than we found it, the only problem is no person ever asked the question. How many Iraqi's must die to free Iraq. The answer is over one million died. A high price to pay to jump from the frying pan to the fire. Naively George W Bush said God told him it was his place to free the Iraqi people. I think it was Dick Cheney playing God and Bush buying it.
          1. Mr. Friedman, given that you were someone who loudly cheerleaded for what we progressive knew was the bad idea of invading Iraq, and later described the Iraq War as simply a way to tell the Middle East to "suck on this," I don't think you really have any credibility left to talk about the lessons of that misguided folly.

            You ask and offer a few reasons why the cost of the war was so high in comparison to the results, but you overlook the key one - that invading another country is not a way to bring democracy to it. War is, unfortunately, necessary at times. For example, it can be an appropriate response for halting genocide, is necessary to stop the invasion of one country by another, and can provide critical limited support to a democracy movement that is under threat of being brutally crushed.

            But using war as a way to promote democracy is sheer folly, as the difference in the results of President W. Bush and President Obama's foreign policy has shown. There is still a far way to go in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, but the progress made there through President Obama's patient approach of supporting the will of the people in those nation's and using force only when absolutely necessary has been far greater than the disaster that was caused by the neocon fantasies that led us into Iraq and are trying to get us into Iran.



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