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About that Civil War…

May 4, 2006

I am about to emerge from an especially intense month at work, and will begin posting more frequently when I am unemployed and in my pajamas– the natural state for blogging!

My Lenten break from blogging has alas, become a habit (or non-habit) unto itself. I keep hoping to break forth with a new burst of energy, but y’know- this is kind of hard to even approach the way I want to do it.

Until then, I highly recommend this post from The Belmont Club (surprise, surprise). Honestly, I do read other things… but in view of recent events, this one is an absolute must read. In fact, I would recommend digging back into the Belmont archives for March and April (c’mon, use up all that time you’re not spending on reading Strange Monkey Doll!). Wretchard has been on an amazing roll.

“The McCaffrey Trip Report” deals with comparing two reports on Iraq by one General Barry McCaffrey (USA ret), described as an early and outspoken critic of Donald Rumsfeld and the War. Short version: McCaffrey now sees much reason for optimism in achieving our goals in Iraq. This is not some op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Times, but a report to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

One of the major factors in our success in Iraq is how much the American people support the effort there. That’s why I blog. But I don’t want to berate anyone for their lack of support- just go over to Belmont and grapple with it.

It’s still a mess, and it won’t be easy (never has). But we are doing well, the Iraqi people are doing amazingly, amazingly well, and success can do much to ease the effects of mistakes past and ongoing in the War. Do tell me what you think.

***

When I stopped blogging, the big thing at the time was the Samarra Mosque bombing, followed by the serious threat of Civil War. Turns out, not so much on that… but it was close, and a dark dark hour to be sure.  Then there was a parade of Generals with grim assessments and a call for Rummy’s head. I’ll admit, the bombing left me with a awful sinking feeling in my gut, a sense of the coldness and finality of defeat. But it also seems that these things always, always pass, and in a few more days or weeks, it’s some other panicky moment, some crisis for the administration, typically with some truth to it, but amped up my the media and those that would seek political damage to the President. There’s a temptation to just blow it all off, but I might miss something important in it… at least that’s what I keep telling myself. In practice, it’s more and more just a maddening, tedious waste of time. I really don’t want to get to caught up in this crazy game where the goalposts are constantly moved not just maliciously, but to simply get a better shot. But I digress.

About that civil war: the people that I read- you know those right wing partisans- have been saying it’s a civil war since 2003. So it was odd to me that suddenly this “revelation” became another reason why we’ll fail etc. Never mind that it appears that the insurgency has been defeated. Or that Iraqis keep coming out to vote, or join the Army, and that the government is not failing… on and on it keeps coming. I have no doubt that the whole thing could be a resounding success and there will always be those who dwell on the failures and the costs.

***

BTW, Belmont has such excellent comments (most of them at least). Wretchard responds to one of them regarding the “turning the corner” mentality that is so easy to fall into, whether towards defeat or victory:

The one-corner path. One of the problems with the metaphor of “turning the corner” is the hidden idea that in the long tortuous path to victory there is simply one corner to turn. There are a succession. That fact blinds many media commentators into thinking the “corners” which have been successfully negotiated are illusory because there is often another one ahead. For them as for many, war is an L-shaped room with One Big Corner which is turned now and forever.

It was probably LBJ’s fault, withi his image about seeing “light at the end of a tunnel”. It’a valid comparison but it only goes so far. From the very beginning we knew that the War on Terror — as opposed to the war in Iraq — was a generational effort. After Iraq there is much more. It will be possible for critics to say “even after we’ve secured Iraq it seems we’ve turned the corner once again and just a bit more time and victory will be ours …” and still cast that as defeat.

Victory is never assured, nor is defeat, by the simple turn of events. More important is one’s will and the ability to adapt to new circumstances.

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