Thursday, June 16, 2005

Pretty much everything I write here these days seems to be a criticism of America Abroad. Great blog, though I have yet to be satisfied with a single post they've written.

James Lindsay concludes that the only available action for the US is to "stay the course in Iraq." He arrives at this (startling!) conclusion by the process of elimination: withdrawal would embolden the insurgency, a troop increase would alienate Iraqis.

This just goes to show you why we need foreign policy experts. Where would we get incisive analysis like this without them?

Meanwhile, Lindsay's post illustrates why I have trouble forming opinions about Iraq. Now those who trust Bush should have no trouble deferring to his judgement; but because I belive that Bush had misled the public on many occasions, I feel the need to form an independent opinion. And its hard, because its entirely unclear what consequences each action would produce.

A troop increase would alienate Iraqis. OK. How much? Enough to give a substantial boost to insurgency? Enough to alienate them from the political process? Enough to create problems for the US even after the benefits an increase in security would provide?

Troop withdrawal would embolden the insurgency. OK. How much? Enough to win the war against the Iraqi troops we have trained, of which there are, according our illustrious defense department, hundreds of thousands? And what exactly are the chances of a civil war in Iraq after an American pullout?

The public needs expert answers to these questions, answers that are not being provided by our cheerfully optimistic (insurgency is in its last throes!) administration. Unfortunately democratic foreign policy experts are not providing them either.

Update: Anne-Marie Slaughter writes a must-read followup to the Lindsay post.

7 Comments:

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Very interesting and thoughtful posts.

Here's a question. Who do you trust more on the issue of Iraq -- the Bush administration or the American public?

I'm not sure, for instance, that I disagree with John Derbyshire's assessment of the public mood, though I myself disagree with the sentiments he attributes to the general public. You could, perhaps, argue that if the Bush administration had been more trustworthy, the American public wouldn't be so wobbly, but I don't really buy that (I suppose because, sad to say, I ultimately trust the Bush administration more than I trust the public).

I also don't really buy the notion that the U.S. should have spent more time persuading the world that intervention in Iraq was the right course of action -- or rather that responsibility for the failure to persuade the world rests solely with the U.S. Norman Geras had a really interesting post about that issue. I'll try to find the link.

 
At 1:04 AM, Blogger angela said...

"This just goes to show you why we need foreign policy experts. Where would we get incisive analysis like this without them?"

so why are you so mean to ir scholars? did you have a bad experience with one or something?

 
At 1:08 AM, Blogger alex said...

"Who do you trust more on the issue of Iraq -- the Bush administration or the American public?"

I can't say I trust either - I see no reason for why the public opinion on this issue should be coherent. Especially since public opinion on Iraq, and most other issues, tends to be so sensitive to how you phrase the question. For example about more people consistently say that it was "the right decision to use military force against Saddam" than "it was worth to go to war with Iraq."

I suppose if you put a gun to my head and made me choose, I'd choose Bush.

An interesting question is how much the slide in Bush's approval rating post election (from 51 to 42) is due to Iraq and how much is due to social security. My gut feeling is that its 99% due to social security.

"I also don't really buy the notion that the U.S. should have spent more time persuading the world that intervention in Iraq was the right course of action"

I agree. Anne-Marie Slaughter has an aside in the post I linked to stating that if the US had waited 3 more weeks, it could have had a security council resolution. Thats now how I remember it.

 
At 1:09 AM, Blogger alex said...

er, Thats NOT how I remember it.

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger angela said...

"I suppose if you put a gun to my head and made me choose, I'd choose Bush."

oh come on, thats so wussy. if youre going to have an opinion at gunpoint, you might as well profess to have it anyway. its not like your posts have made it any big secret, especially your little 'undecided voter' phase closer to the beginning of the 04 presidential campaign.

 
At 4:16 PM, Blogger alex said...

"especially your little 'undecided voter' phase closer to the beginning of the 04 presidential campaign."

my, uhm, BIG undecided phase.

but you have to remember that was before all the evidence suggesting iraqi WMDs were a lie surfaced.

 
At 1:18 AM, Blogger angela said...

gee, i didnt know you were so sensitive, ill never call it little again.

 

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