September 27, 2004

Three Questions

Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy solicits "generally hawkish" Iraq bloggers to submit answers to three questions:
So here's a little experiment in blogospheric dialogue. I would like members of the hawkish side of the blogosphere to post responses on their blogs to three questions I have about the situation in Iraq. In exchange, I'll post links to the answers on the Volokh Conspiracy. Here are my questions:

First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?

Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?

Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?


My plan is to gather the links to the responses and post the links here on the Volokh Conspiracy so others can read, debate, and analyze the posts. I plan to be pretty indiscriminate with the links, too: so long as a blogger is (or was) pro-war and answers all three questions in English without excessive profanity, I'll provide the link to it.
I don't think these questions are all that difficult to answer.

1. Nothing we've learned since invading Iraq has changed the calculus for invading in the first place. In early October 2002 President Bush gave a speech and a Saturday radio address outlining why he was increasing the pressure on Iraq and foretelling the potential consequences for the regime. Both statements broadly outline a long list of grievances with Hussein's Iraq that aren't limited to WMD issues. The facile arguments since then over lack of WMD findings doesn't change any of it. Those arguments necessarily require the cleansing of Saddam Hussein's well earned international reputation as a very dangerous and threatening actor. To buy those arguments is ultimately to say Saddam must have complied with all of those U.N. resolutions after all, right? Post 9/11, US policy changed from one of multi-lateral containment to one of pro-active resolution of issues with problem states. Iraq fell sqarely within the bounds of that policy. It was then, and still is now, the right decision and is well within the bounds of the War on Terror.

2. My reaction to the "not-very-upbeat" news is that we still have work to do to finish the job. I mean, yeah, it would have been nice to have avoided some of what we're seeing now -- I'm certain avoiding all of it would have been next to impossible. But I've heard no news or other reason to believe that we can't continue and achieve our goal. The most difficult thing about deciding to go to war is that once started, there's no way to know with any great certainty where its going to take you. Turning on the decision to go to war when things get harder than you wanted them to be, or planned on them being, would mean we'd have surrendered to the British after the defeat at New York in 1776; we'd have allowed the South to secede after the First Bull Run (or any number of many battles following that); and we'd have abandonded WII after disastrous defeats in North Africa.

3. My greatest misgiving about starting the war was how it would end -- some argued then that we rebuilt Japan and Germany into democracies, and neither had a history of successful popular elections. We could do the same in Iraq. My problem with those analogies was that because WWII was what I'll call here Total War, by the time we occupied those countries they were literally ravaged in every sense of the word. I didn't expect Iraq (and especially the Iraqi people) to be similarly devastated. It wasn't and they weren't. It seemed to me that the earlier examples relied too heavily upon starting from nothing, and that we'd be somewhat disadvantaged in Iraq because that wouldn't be the case. But nonetheless, the ultimate measure of success is similar to those achievements. A half-success will be an Iraq that a) doesn't harbor terrorists, doesn't cooperate with them, and doesn't threaten the US. A full success (which I believe is still well within our grasp if we remain steady) is all of the above plus a democratic Iraq. An A+ score would be both of those, plus a strong ally in the War on Terror.

Posted by Peter at September 27, 2004 06:55 PM