Thursday, September 14, 2006

Just war in Iraq?

Tony Snow, the former commentator -- thus formerly above the moral fray, really set me off at yesterday's press conference:
Q You said earlier on one of the television networks that the U.S. goal in Iraq is not to subdue every bad guy in Iraq. What does that mean exactly?

MR. SNOW: What it means is that it has always been the strategy of this administration to work with the Iraqis so that their military and police forces are able to provide safety and security within Iraq's borders. It is not America's job to settle every dispute or to fight every insurgent. Indeed, what we want to have happen is the United States supporting the Iraqis in such a way -- you know the formulations, Steve -- stand up, stand down. And that hasn't changed.

Q Is the U.S. goal also to defeat the insurgency?

MR. SNOW: The U.S. goal is to have the insurgency defeated. Let me repeat what I said before. If the United States says it is our sole responsibility to defeat each and every insurgent, then we will not have done what we set out to do, which is to create a nation that's able to sustain, govern, and defend itself. So I repeat, that's merely a statement of administration policy and it really goes back to the beginning.
There is a difference between what is our job and what we are capable of accomplishing. With this, Tony Snow and the administration want us to believe that we can leave the insurgency in the field and we will have still completed "our job". It just occurred to me, based on comments from General "Shide" Zilmer, that "our job" is not the end of the Iraqi insurgency or the prevention of sectarian bloodshed. (Hat tip: Chad):
Zilmer would not discuss specifics of the Devlin report, but said he did not want more U.S. troops as long as his mission did not include defeating the insurgency.
However, if we are conducting a just war, then the end of those two severe problems is essential.

Lawrence Kaplan noted something very interesting in The New Republic this week:
Withdrawal advocates who wear the position on their sleeves as if it were a badge of heightened moral awareness seem to forget that, as theologian Kenneth Himes wrote in Foreign Policy, "The moral imperative during the occupation is Iraqi well-being, not American interests." Having invoked just-war tradition to oppose the war's cause, they completely disregard its relevance to the war's conduct--namely, the obligation to repair what the United States has smashed. The particulars of that tradition mean leaving Iraq with something better--or, at least, not worse--than what went before. That does not mean staying in Iraq forever. It does mean staying until Iraqis have the means to restrain the forces unleashed by our own actions. The bloodshed overflowing Baghdad streets, after all, comes as a direct consequence of U.S. action.

Why is it, then, that so many of those who demanded action in the Balkans, and now demand it in Darfur, cannot accept that our role in having created Iraq's humanitarian crisis imposes a special obligation to do right there?
We have a moral obligation to Iraq, and I think that should be part of the job description. If we cut-and-run and/or leave the Iraqis to wage their civil war, we have not left the country in better shape.

Of course, what we really arrive at with this analysis is the point that morality runs a distant second to political calculations with both this administration and the middling set of "leaders" in the opposition.


Post a Comment

<< Home