Across the desert
Read this pair of point and counterpoint pieces, courtesy of Michael Totten.
Who protects those in Iraq who have no militias? asks Christopher Hitchens. Who destroyed the equilibrium that brought those militias to being asks the Washington Post? (Hat tip: Michael Totten)
Despite the different emphasis of their titles, two arguments in the two essays are not that far apart. In both is the suggestion that following the fall of Saddam the United States did not restrain the external forces which fueled ethnic conflict between the two. Inaction or timidity began a problem which has grown to the point where only decisive action can provide a remedy. But the question of course is whence the decisiveness will come. If there was never enough commitment, even in 2003 for more than a limited foray; with America even then unwilling to finish the job if that meant twisting a number of other countries into line then where will it find the will today?
One school of thought is that necessity will force President Bush to conjure it from somewhere. And the other that since a divided American polity will never have enough will at any time anyway, then the best course is to up stakes and go to Okinawa; and have done pretending to possess the will to see things through. The first has the virtue of hope and the second the appeal of cynicism. But neither really addresses the question. And maybe America has to get a whole lot more hurt before it nerves itself meet the problem squarely.
Right after reading Hitchen's piece I ran into this at the WSJ Opinion Journal, which shows that rightly or wrongly, many Iraqis have bet their lives on America. People tend to do that and occasionally you hear about Rip Van Winkle groups of hill tribesmen in Vietnam still keeping the faith for their old friend, Colonel Joe. What do you tell them? That we didn't mean it, that it was all a mistake? I know that's not true but sometimes it looks that way.
he has risked his life--and lost more than his life--for the cause. In September 2004 he attended a counterterrorism conference in Herzliya, Israel; after which insurgents threatened his family. The following February assassins opened fire on Mr. al-Alusi's car as it approached his Baghdad home. He wasn't in the vehicle, but his sons, 30-year-old Ayman and 22-year-old Gamal, were. Both were killed as their father watched. Still, Mr. al-Alusi was unbowed. "Even if these terrorists try to kill me again, peace is the only solution," he told reporters minutes after the attack. "Peace with Israel is the only solution for Iraq. Peace with everybody, but no peace for the terrorists."