Thursday, December 14, 2006

When Reality Bites, Make Lemonaide

Many people are upset about the Iraq Study Group's report because it paints a bleak picture in Iraq. Like a child, they close their eyes and believe that reality is the darkness of their mind's eye. It's simply shocking to Ann Coulter to believe we are losing in Iraq because only about a thousand Americans are dying each year (she, of course, does not mention the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties or the 1.6 million displaced Iraqis). Heartened by the metric of American vs Iraqi deaths she then says 6,000 American deaths by 2010 would be perfectly acceptable to prevent another 9/11.

Yes, 6,000 American deaths to prevent 3,000 more. Such is twisted logic of a mind's eye long since gone blind. Such is the emotional pull of September 11.

I don't mean to start anything here but I'm sick of 9/11. How many people are we going to ask to die to prevent another 9/11? How much money are we going to spend to do it? Are we going to irrevocably cripple this country to prevent another 9/11? Are we going to suspend more civil rights to prevent it? Taken together, are we, in fact, doing more damage to this country than willful terrorists ever could?

Of course it pains me to say these things. I would love to live in the America of my childhood, an idyllic notion far detached from reality. But that does me no favors, just as believing in Santa will produce no extra presents under the tree on Christmas morning. When faced with future marginalization, debt, and possible attach, best to dwell in the house of reality.

The worst thing that could happen is not another 9/11, but an organization acquiring a nuclear device to use against us. How are we preventing that by being in Iraq? Has Operation Iraqi Freedom slowed down the development of WMDs in other countries? No. In-fact, Iraq has undoubtedly exacerbated tensions, given countries a reason for extra deterrence, and accelerated the process. Continuing, it has inflamed anti-American passions with people who would use such a device against us. And I'm not just talking about rogue terrorist organizations, although we have certainly widened their recruitment pool. North Korea, Iran, and other countries around the world really, really dislike us. Taken all-together, we have a serious problem.

So, the Bush doctrine to prevent another 9/11 has, in-fact, increased the chances that a 9/11 x 10,000 could occur.

Yes, actually, there are worse things than another 9/11. One of which I've just expressed. Another is losing our credibility and standing among countries who don't yet hate us. I know there is a strong feeling of unilateralism but that can only take us so far. We are mired in debt. We need intelligence that requires cooperation among countries. We also require that cooperation to deter future large-scale terrorists attacks.

The world is shrinking, whether we like it or not. That is a good thing if you know how to play well with others. It's a bad thing if you think your power can by the playground. We simply cannot afford to have a rogue attitude in a world where more countries are acquiring nuclear weapons, and the ability to conceal and deliver them increases.

Terrorism must be undermined with subtlety, something sorely lacking in this administration. Israel has not been able to destroy terrorism, with force, against a people it occupies. How are we supposed to stop it from germinating in a foreign country? We do ourselves no favors with large gestures of force which only lend credibility to a terrorist's belief that we are a dangerous country that must be stopped.

9/11 was a horrific event, no doubt. But are we going to take this ship down for it? No one likes the idea of resignation, but even George Washington had to retreat once in a while. He lost battles but his goal was to win the war. This was accomplished not with a dramatic charge, but with a bit of concession and a lot of strategy. George Bush, and so many of us, so badly wants to win this battle in Iraq, even if it costs us the entire war. That seems to me an anathema. It seems un-American to sacrifice the future of America at the alter of pride.

1 comment:

JoeC said...

Good analysis from a lot of different angles. I'm tired of 9/11 too. It was horrible. So were all those Barbary Pirates driving the Jefferson administration crazy a couple of centuries ago. So are people dying in automobile accidents, but not many people are wearing safety helmets in their SUV driving to work each morning...why do we accept death from cars and cigarettes, but can't accept markedly fewer deaths due to terrorist acts? Oil? Maybe...