Saturday, August 14, 2004

Crystal Ball

fred kaplan has a fantastic column today regarding the ever deteriorating situation in iraq. some highlights:

This is a terribly grim thing to say, but there might be no solution to the problem of Iraq. There might be nothing we can do to build a path to a stable, secure, let alone democratic regime. And there's no way we can just pull out without plunging the country, the region, and possibly beyond into still deeper disaster.

Even if our re-energized allies agreed to send more troops, they would be but a beginning, a holding action, and who knows how long they'd have to stay? What kind of country Iraq becomes, what kind of politics it practices, what kind of alliances it forms—all are mysteries. You don't hear Paul Wolfowitz waxing lyrical these days, as he did a year ago, over the universal truths of Alexis de Tocqueville. Even he must realize that the best we can hope for, at this point, is an Iraq that doesn't blow up and take the region with it. The dismaying, frightening thing is how imponderably difficult it will be simply to avoid catastrophe.

Kaplan is more or less conceding that the situation in Iraq is utterly hopeless. but what makes kaplan's column all the more interesting is his initial support of a war in iraq. i've gone back to some of his pre-war columns and read through his early cheerleading for a war. here are some excerpts:

Still, even if the weak points remain weak, the strong ones are strong enough. Unless you believe Iraq's dismissal that the photos and tapes are fabrications, many of Powell's conclusions are nearly irrefutable. (my highlights)

Hans Blix, the chief U.N. inspector, and Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, are making one last trip to Baghdad this weekend, at Saddam Hussein's invitation. As of today, it's two minutes to midnight. If Saddam doesn't get that message at last, how can any objective observer, or any world leader, continue to make a case against war?

And another column:

But now Bush is in a serious fix. He has pledged to oust Saddam by force, with a "coalition of the willing" if the Security Council does not come along. . But, as some officials privately admit, this is a risky business. Almost certainly, the ad hoc coalition (which, militarily, consists of the U.S. armed forces and a few units from Britain and Australia) will be enough to win the war, but—given America's standing in the Arab world these days—it may lack the diversity, the clout, or the resources to keep the peace afterward. If the war goes spectacularly well, this may not matter; France, Germany, and Russia can be expected to scramble onto the postwar brigades to avoid being deprived of a share of the spoils. But if the war goes badly, we'll be out there on the cliff with no cover. If it inspires terrorist reprisals, we (and London) will take the hit alone.

It's easy to criticize these liberal war supporters in HINDSIGHT, but if you take a look at Kaplan's most recent column, it could have easily been written PRIOR to the war. there were enough legitimate, moderate, sensible experts, writing, prior to the war, who warned of exactly the situation that kaplan is describing in the PRESENT tense. kaplan is an ass and he was an ass to have faith in the bushies to carry out the war like HE would have waged it. going back through these pre-war columns is almost comical. that is, if the whole damn situation wasn't so tragic.



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