I’m a fairly regular reader of the evangelical outpost, and often disagree, even though I respond here infrequently.; Today Joe Carter has a post, The Ruby Slipper Option: Why We Can’t Win in Iraq, that is really exceptionally good, though I detect that Carter is less happy with his conclusion than I am.
I have commented a few times that Americans are, quite fortunately, not ruthless enough to be an occupying power. Carter notes that we tend to be a bit of a homesick power, although the homesickness is heavily the work of the voters who are already home. This is an excellent point with regard to American attitudes.
I would add, however, that there never was a hopeful option in Iraq. There was never any doubt that we could win on the battlefield, and of course we did. But winning as an occupying power with troops required to function as a fairly advanced police force is much less likely. I sense regret in many conservatives, such as Joe Carter, that we don’t have the staying power to make Iraq stable before we leave.
But what solution is there in Iraq that creates a stable country? The fact is that a stable Iraq that is also completely democratic is a fantasy. It’s not going to happen. Iraq is an artificial country combining people with different goals. These facts should have been given more consideration before we went in. One important consideration in formulating foreign policy should be: Is it sustainable? Determining that means considering whether the voters are likely to hang in there for the long haul. If you persuade people to enter the war with optimistic forecasts, you can’t be surprised when they abandon that support when things don’t look so rosy.
I would note, however, that I see no good reason for the voters to have been deceived. I believe the administration painted an excessively optimistic picture, but why would anyone with reading skills have believed it? If anyone supported the war, it should have been with the knowledge that it could have been worse than it is, and that it would certainly involved American lives and resources for a substantial period of time. I credit those who continue to support the war with consistency. I wonder about those who supported it and changed their minds.
In any case, American leaders should consider the Wizard of Oz factor when formulating foreign policy.