December 29, 2006

Worlds Apart

It isn't likely that you needed a litmus test to gauge the widely divergent viewpoints on the Iraq War, but on the off chance that you did, Senator Joe Lieberman provided it in spades in an op-ed published in today's Washington Post calling for more American troops to be sent to Iraq.

Reaction on both sides is as you might expect it, both from conservative bloggers, and from liberals.

Blogging from the right with a soldier-son in Iraq, Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard:

My son and I were talking the other day about troop levels. Frankly, there should have been more on the ground sooner. That is looking back with 20/20 hindsight, of course. It is vital right now not to simply abandon the Middle East to Iran's ambitions. Yet that is what some want to do.

From Dan Collins at the libertarian-rightish Protein Wisdom:

In his opinion piece in the WaPo today, Independent Senator from Connecticut Joe Lieberman says the *gasp!* V-Word! He’s so over the line he's, he's . . . why, he's trans-neoconic! If you've no better source of entertainment today, you can watch the sinistrosphere go ballistic over the temerity of the man...

...If he runs for president, I think he's got my vote.

From Paul Silver at the moderate—what else?—Moderate Voice:

I agree with Senator Lieberman's commentary today in the Washington Post...

...Yes this war has been mismanaged, it is inconvenient, and it is expensive. And yes we may lose it still. But I can't support abandoning so many millions of people that WE put in harms way by surrendering them to ethnic cleansing. I feel shame when the most powerful society in history abandoned so many freedom loving southeast Asians after the Vietnam War, when we ignore those in Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia and other killing fields.

I would be willing to pay higher taxes and volunteer once a week in a military base to allow trained soldiers to go over there, because I believe this is necessary and worth the sacrifice.

From Steve Clemons at the reliably left-wing Huffington Post:

Senator Lieberman just spent 10 days in the Middle East and still does not get it. He's penned an op-ed calling for more deployed American troops in Iraq.

It's a remarkable essay for just how anti-empirical it is and how he can so easily waft platitudes about America's engagement in the region after actually seeing the miserable results of more than three and half years of military occupation of Iraq by us...

...Many critics of this war -- including this blogger -- always worried that our engagement would trigger a regional conflagration and that removing Iran's "balancer" would have huge effects throughout the Middle East and fuel Iran's pretensions as a hegemonic force. Where is Lieberman's confession that he and others were warned of this and didn't see it coming?

And what really irritates is his depiction of the extremists, who he inappropriately ties to Iran. The extremists in many cases are angry Sunnis who want their place back in society, who despise Iran and now the Shiites as well as us.

Lieberman should have seen in Iraq that America is now supporting the guy Iran wants -- al-Maliki. Lieberman's entire depiction of the good and the bad in Iraq are ridiculous and remind one of Soviet era depictions of the enemy in Afghanistan...

...Senator Lieberman, let their be no doubt that the outcome you fear was totally predictable -- and was triggered by you and the other enablers of this war. Where is your humility and your own ownership of the consequences of what you have unleashed? Where is your realistic answer to what must be done to establish a NEW equilibrium of interests in the region?

Glenn Greenwald sees this as a declaration of war on Iran:

In his Washington Post Op-Ed today, the Great Warrior Joe Lieberman predictably endorsed sending more troops to Iraq, in the process dutifully spouting (as always) every Bush/neoconservative talking point. But Lieberman had a much larger fish to fry with this Op-Ed, as he all but declared war on Iran, identifying them as the equivalent of Al Qaeda, as the Real Enemy we are fighting...

...One might question why someone who is one of the most vocal advocates of the Iraq Disaster would seek to expand the war to include Iran, a country much larger and more formidable on every level than Iraq. After all, things aren't going that well in Iraq, and it might seem to a simplistic and Chamberlain-like appeasing coward that the absolutely most insane idea ever is to try to expand "our war" to include Iran. So what would motivate Lieberman to do this?

He then goes on to make the snide, roundabout case—and no, I'm not be facetious—that Liebermann is doing this because the Israelis told him too:

Initially, it must be emphasized that whatever his reason is, it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the sentiments expressed by Israel's newest cabinet minister, Avigdor Lieberman (whose duties include strategic affairs and Iran) when he visited the U.S. earlier this month and gave an interview to The New York Times:
"Our first task is to convince Western countries to adopt a tough approach to the Iranian problem," which he called "the biggest threat facing the Jewish people since the Second World War." [Minister] Lieberman insisted that negotiations with Iran were worthless: "The dialogue with Iran will be a 100-percent failure, just like it was with North Korea."
Joe Lieberman's desire for the U.S. to view itself as being at war with Iran also has nothing whatsoever to do with this:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday compared Iran's nuclear ambitions and threats against Israel with the policies of Nazi Germany and criticized world leaders who maintain relations with Iran's president...

Israel has identified Iran as the greatest threat to the Jewish state. Israel's concerns have heightened since the election of Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who frequently calls for the destruction of Israel and has questioned whether the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews took place.

"We hear echoes of those very voices that started to spread across the world in the 1930s," Olmert said in his speech at the Yad Vashem memorial.

And yes, he's serious as Glenn Ryan Wilson Ellers Ellison Ellensburg Greenwald can be.

And for a final left-wing viewpoint, Matthew Yglesias:

And what about al-Qaeda? Lieberman appears to be arguing later in the article that Iran and al-Qaeda are collaborating in Iraq since otherwise it's hard to make sense of the claim that "If Iraq descends into full-scale civil war, it will be a tremendous battlefield victory for al-Qaeda and Iran. Iraq is the central front in the global and regional war against Islamic extremism." Needless to say, he's backing the Bush/McCain escalation plan.

One problem here is that to the extent you see the dark hand of Iran behind all events in Iraq, the situation should logically be viewed as more rather than less hopeless. The reason, of course, is that Iran can escalate every bit as much as we can. Whoever's equipping, say, the Mahdi Army clearly isn't equipping them very well -- Hezbollah is much better-armed. Suppose we escalate and the Iranians counter-escalate by giving our foes wire-guided anti-tank missiles, katyusha rockets, Iglas and so forth -- then you're talking about a really bad scene. Obviously, though, that's logic and hawks aren't into logic.

And though I am a hawk—and therefore by definition "not into logic" according to Yglesias—I'll do my best to muddle through these divergent viewpoints and attempt to get to whatever apparent meat remains upon this proverbial bone.

From the center-right, the perspective seems to be that we did not go into Iraq with enough forces initially. We went in with enough military force to destroy Saddam Hussein’s military dictatorship, but not enough military and non-military forces to occupy the country and create stability in which a fledgling democracy could be established. I think few will argue with this perspective, as current events indicate that is precisely what appears to have occurred, as we currently have an Iraqi dictatorship that was quickly toppled in just weeks in 2003, only to fall into a worsening chaos afterward.

From this perspective, many conservatives—but certainly not all, by any means—hope that a influx of American troops can be used in some way to stop the near-constant escalation of sectarian violence in several key Iraqi provinces, and also dismantle various elements of the Sunni insurgency, terrorist groups, the Shia militias, and various criminal gangs. I, for one, agree with something Senator Liebermann said in his op-ed, that, "More U.S. forces might not be a guarantee of success in this fight, but they are certainly its prerequisite." If it is possible to win in Iraq—and no honest person can claim to have God's knowledge and unequivocally say this war can’t be won, or is already lost—then providing stability is indeed a prerequisite, and sending in more soldiers is the only option to help achieve that goal.

The "reality-based community" maintains that it has a crystal ball and that the war is already lost. This, of course is a ludicrous position, speaking of the future as if it is known, but a popular and perhaps prevailing one on the left nonetheless. The fact is, though they are loathe to admit it, that the American left wants to lose the War in Iraq. If the situation is turned around in Iraq, stability is restored and Iraq becomes some sort of non-belligerent representative and economically viable Middle Eastern democracy, then the far Left's rhetoric of the past six years will have been proven false. To maintain the viability of their ideology, the Bush Doctrine, and therefore the U.S. military forces and Iraqi government, must fail. It is a sad position that the Left has backed themselves into, but they are campaigning against victory in Iraq, putting their own psychological and philosophical needs above the lives of 26 million Iraqis.

This most certainly is the case, as that is the only way that Greenwald go to such extremes as to “blame the Jews” in almost Sheehanesque shrillness, while purposefully ignoring the fact that Iran has escalated the disagreements between our two nations to the level of conflict, and on multiple occasions.

In Bob Woodward’s State of Denial, he states (via NRO):

Pages 414-415: "Some evidence indicated that the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah was training insurgents to build and use the shaped IED's, at the urging of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. That kind of action was arguably an act of war by Iran against the United States. If we start putting out everything we know about these things, Zelikow felt, the administration might well start a fire it couldn't put out..."

Page 449: "The components and the training for (the IEDs) had more and more clearly been traced to Iran, one of the most troubling turns in the war."

Page 474ß: "The radical Revolutionary Guards Corps had asked Hizbollah, the terrorist organization, to conduct some of the training of Iraqis to use the EFPs, according to U.S. Intelligence. If all this were put out publicly, it might start a fire that no one could put out...Second, if it were true, it meant that Iranians were killing American soldiers — an act of war..."

From the same column, former FBI director Louis Freeh:

It's not the first time we have had information about Iran's murder of Americans. Louis Freeh tells us that the same thing happened following the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. On page 18 of Freeh's My FBI he reports that Saudi Ambassador Bandar told Freeh "we have the goods," pointing "ineluctably towad Iran." The culprits were the same as in Iraq: Hezbollah, under direction from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. And then there was a confession from outgoing Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani to Crown Prince Abdullah (at the time, effectively the Saudi king): page 19: "the Khobar attack had been planned and carried out with the knowledge of the Iranian supreme ruler, Ayatollah Khamenei."

As Freeh puts it, "this had been an act of war against the United States of America."

According to ABC News, Iranian-made explosives of recent manufacture have been captured at the Iran-Iraq border. Iranian fighters have recently been captured northeast of Baghdad after a skirmish with U.S. and Iraqi soldiers.

Greenwald is welcome to his own opinion, but he seems intent on creating his own reality as well, where Iran is not acting against us. Clemons takes the exact same approach, stating, Liebermann "inappropriately ties" Iran to some of the violence in Iraq. This takes a strong adherence to ideology over facts, and yet, this seems to be precisely their shared position. It is just one example of many they ignore or bend to bring "reality" to their "reality-based" community.

I offer only this.

I do not claim to have a crystal ball. I do not pretend to know where the war will lead. I do not pretend to know the outcome. What I do know, however, is that we further broke an already failing nation-state, and did much to create the situation in which the citizens of Iraq find themselves in. When someone creates a problem as we have done with the botched occupation we have witnessed so far, we have an obligation, a responsibility, to do everything within reason to help rectify that mistake.

If sending additional forces to Iraq in a so-called "surge" to attempt to break the militias, insurgents, terrorists and thugs is what the situation calls for, then we owe it—yes we owe it—to the overwhelming majority of the 26 million Iraqi people that simply want to live peaceful lives.

To do otherwise is to dishonor our nation, and the lives of those who fought and who are fighting in Iraq.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 29, 2006 01:51 PM | TrackBack

Greenwald has been sniffing too much glue. His mind is gone.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at December 31, 2006 12:53 AM

I thought the unspoken deal with Iraq was: we get rid of Sadddam and give the country a shot at democracy and prosperity/BUT the country becomes a war zone where fanatics from all over can come to attack Americans (who might otherwise come West),we improve our intelligence by inserting people into Iran(the longer we're in the neighborhood, the better our intellegence must get},we've bracketed Iran with troops in countries on either side in case they do anything funny. Maybe the president has slowed down the war because he realizes the media/CIA/Democrats aren't going to let him fight--so he's handing it off to them. The CIA/state dept. guy who was just interviewed by Jim Angel had the same talking points offered by Belmont Club today.

Posted by: Bob at January 1, 2007 08:14 PM