Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Next Debate Question - Will We All Ever Agree That Iraq Was Right or Wrong?

The next question is posted:

If Iraq becomes a real and stable democracy, will we all be able to agree it was worth it? If Iraq descends into anarchy or a terrorist-supporting theocracy, will we all be able to agree we made a mistake?

I think it is going to be hard to get an agreement that Iraq was worth it even if all goes well, because of the opportunity costs. One of these is the war against al Qaeda et al. According to Seymour Hersh,

By early March, 2002, a former White House official told me, it was understood by many in the White House that the President had decided, in his own mind, to go to war. The undeclared decision had a devastating impact on the continuing struggle against terrorism. The Bush Administration took many intelligence operations that had been aimed at Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world and redirected them to the Persian Gulf. Linguists and special operatives were abruptly reassigned, and several ongoing anti-terrorism intelligence programs were curtailed.
If al Qaeda fades away, this will be a minor footnote in the history books. If not, people in the future will be amazed that even after 9/11, fighting al Qaeda wasn't the top foreign policy goal of the United States.

A second opportunity cost is that we haven't stopped the genocide in Darfur. When told about Clinton's inaction on the Rwandan genocide, Bush is reported to have declared, "Not on my watch." But as a result of Iraq, we have neither the troops to intervene nor the international standing to shame other contries into addressing the issue. Because of Darfur, I don't think that Iraq can be justified on humantiarian grounds, no matter how much it improves the lot of people living in Iraq.


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