Friday, May 26, 2006

Losers or victors?

Tony Blair and George Bush are in terminal decline are they not because of the Iraq war? A typically spot-on piece by Frank Devine in The Australian suggests perhaps not.

Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations, writes:
'President Bush has not made the most crucial mistake: he has not lost his nerve in difficult times. Thanks to the President's fortitude, the Iraqi people's resilience and the skill and bravery of the coalition armed forces, victory is still the most likely outcome'.
And will those who trumpet every setback to the cause of the Coalition express regret for their efforts to thwart this effort? Or will they then move onto their next misconception and fashionable cause?


PatrickG said...

It seems a little naive, surely, to claim that victory is still possible, when victory, by many definitions has now well and truly past with the absence of WMDs the shocking loss of civilian and military life, and the prospect of real democracy still no closer.

This, perhaps, was never a conflict that should have been framed in terms of victory, but it was - and I think by that reference it was and remains a failure. I'm not advocating a withdrawal of troops, but in ignoring three years of realities in favour of a, frankly, nebulous future, I think administrations are still playing with the spin and wishful thinking that took them to Iraq in the first place.

Castigating people who draw attention to the many failures and setbacks in Iraq is a straw man in this context. Whether they criticise or not, the failures are still real, and still problematic.

Furthermore, you seem to be arguing that critics have no right to criticise, because victory (whatever that is) - according to some - is still possible. By that definition, I have no right to criticise anything that impermanent, that contains the capacity to change. Unfortunately victory in Iraq will not bring back the people who are already dead.

hc said...

I think Devine is drawing attention to the fact that the prospect of real democracy remains a plausible outcome.

The killings in Iraq are an attempt to defeat the will of the Coalition because the terrorists know the high casualty-sensitivity of the US public. The standard David versus Goliath tactic.

The killings are horrific and a consequence of the Americans going into Iraq but are not in the main killings carried out by Americans.

I don't think criticism is out of line - Abu Ghraib is totally appalling and there were many mistakes.

But constantly pointing to the deathtoll as an American failure seems to fall for the terrorist line. Its the outcome they seek.

I think resolve and not pressuring for a quick withdrawal is sensible.

civitas said...

The killings in Iraq are not an attempt to defeat the will of the coalition, they are an attempt to defeat the will of the Iraqi people. Very important difference.

Any attempt by the Iraqi people would have resulted in the killings, the are not the result of the Americans going into Iraq. Killing was going on in Iraq long before the Americans got there.

There are always mistakes in war, name the war that had no mistakes. Can anyone imagine what would be said now about the deaths of US servicemen in Japan? We could certainly criticize the many thousands of mistakes made during WWII, but what would be the point?

The deathtoll is on the tab of those responsible for it, no one else. Including the coalition.

Withdrawal will happen when the Iraqi people can stand up on their own, both Blair and Bush have said this all along.

civitas said...

Abu Ghraib would bother me more if no action had been taken against those responsible. I don't hold the entire US military responsible for the actions of a few. On the grand scale of torture, Abu Ghraib is actually pretty tame if you think about what actually happened there.