Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A Contrast In Strategies, Part II

In Part I of this series, I provided the background for the discussion of the war on spread of radical anti-American jihadism - identifying the enemy, the nature of the struggle and the enemy's goals and motivations. I also introduced, at the end, one of the most controversial aspects of Bush's strategy in what he calls the "war on terror": spreading democracy through regime change achieved through the use of military force - and the resulting affect this would have in the battle of ideas between the West and Bin Laden.

I discussed many aspects of this subject in a post entitled,
The Best Laid Plans. I will borrow liberally from that piece, so please excuse the repetition, as I think the points are still salient, and are necessary to revisit in this context.

The Theory

There are many aspects of this overall theory that are disputed, but it is meaningless to discuss the theory of democracy promotion in the abstract, absent a very specific context. It would be foolish, even for the theory's most ardent proponents, to say that democracy promotion would be the right thing in every context no matter the potential ramifications, and regardless of what means were used to accomplish the transformation. For example, if too rapid a transition is forced on a nation such as Saudi Arabia, the resulting democratically elected regime might take a stance that is even more hostile to U.S. interests. Similarly, Russia may have moved too swiftly to embrace a representative government, before the necessary democratic institutions such as a free press, independent judiciary, and civic society, were established - which has imperiled that country's democracy going forward. In any case, using the military to impose democratic reform is a risky endeavor with a track record of many failures and few successes.

Therefore, we must look to the specific policies used to effectuate the objectives, and the context in which those policies operate. In determining these factors, a series of questions must be addressed.

First, is spreading democracy even a laudable goal, or is it some form of cultural imperialism and ethnocentricity writ large? Furthermore, even if it is a worthy objective, are the societies in the Middle East conducive to the eventuality of such change? Assuming it is possible to democratize the Middle East, will it impact on the popularity and support for radical Islamist ideology?

The next set of questions assume the answer to the first three all fall in favor of spreading democracy to the Middle East: Most importantly, is military invasion and forced regime change a legitimate means to use in order to achieve the goals of spreading democracy to the Middle East? Is it likely to succeed even if justifiable, and further is it the best way to achieve those ends? If so, was Iraq the right place to start and was it the right time to begin such an endeavor ?

Personally, I believe that spreading democracy, or at the very least encouraging its growth and appeal, is a positive foreign policy objective, in almost any context. I also believe that the Middle East is capable of embracing democracy, and that democracy itself would be a moderating force. Free expression, human rights, voting privileges, economic opportunity, and all the other accompaniments of a democratic society would serve to take the momentum and appeal away from the merchants of martyrdom. Free societies, it is said repeatedly and with some validity, do not spawn terrorism. The questions raised in the second paragraph above are not as easily answered.

In support of democracy promotion, and its impact on the spread of terrorist ideologies, conservative pundit Max Boot, in a column in the
Los Angeles Times, quotes Alan Krueger, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton (and a Clinton administration veteran), and Jitka Maleckova, a professor of Middle Eastern studies in Prague on this part of the strategy:

"Apart from population - larger countries tend to have more terrorists - the only variable that was consistently associated with the number of terrorists was the Freedom House index of political rights and civil liberties. Countries with more freedom were less likely to be the birthplace of international terrorists. Poverty and literacy were unrelated to the number of terrorists from a country. Think of a country like Saudi Arabia: It is wealthy but has few political and civil freedoms. Perhaps it is no coincidence that so many of the Sept. 11 terrorists - and Osama bin Laden himself - came from there."

Paul Wolfowitz couldn't have said it better. Of course, even admitting that democracy promotion is in U.S. interests, there will be differences over how to go about it. Anyone not on the administration's payroll would concede that its performance has been far from flawless. But President Bush is on the right track because he recognizes the democracy imperative that too many of his critics unfairly dismiss as neocon nuttiness.
As Boot points out, many policymakers and scholars on both sides of the political spectrum agree that promoting democracy is a laudable goal with tangible benefits in the war to stave of the spread of anti-American radicalism. The only difference among this bipartisan consensus, then, is the strategy employed to effect the changes desired.
Before I proceed with the next phase, it is important to note that the Boot editorial was written in the context of a dispute between two camps of economics experts that weigh in on the subject of democracy promotion. It is essentially a chicken and egg question. Boot believes that democracy can be implemented absent a favorable economic climate, whereas others argue that certain economic prerequisites must exist before a healthy democracy can take root. Each side claims the one set of conditions brings about the other. Publius at Legal Fiction has discussed these arguments in
more than one post:

The point is that democracy – as a system of government – rests upon a specific type of underlying economic arrangement. Democracies tend to emerge successfully only where a society’s wealth is fairly evenly distributed. Francis Fukuyama (if I’m remembering "End of History" correctly) explained that democracies have traditionally emerged organically when a nation's average (or perhaps median?) individual income rises above a certain level.

Sadly, money is power – it always has been. Thus, when the early urban centers in Renaissance Europe gave rise to a new urban middle class (which had new wealth, and thus new power), it made sense that democratic reforms soon followed. It also makes sense that democracy worked so well in America, where land was so plentiful. Democracy in America reflected the underlying economic arrangements, which were more egalitarian than feudal Europe. But you must understand – the economics came first. If America had ever existed as a feudal society where wealth was extremely concentrated, then democracy would have developed much more slowly, if at all. So that’s Lesson #1 for democracy promotion in the Middle East – without the proper underlying economic structures, democracy is a pipe dream.
For now, I will table this debate, without declaring a victor. These considerations should at the very least enter into the calculus when determining the right conditions for encouraging democratic reform, but for now, I will not make them an absolute necessity.

The Application Of The Theory

Returning from this economic diversion, I was discussing the fact that many on the right and left agree about the worthiness of the goal of democracy promotion, with the only divergence being the tactics chosen and destinations and times selected. By way of background, I quote from The Best Laid Plans (please excuse the conceit in quoting myself - it's just easier this way):

After the events of September 11, 2001, what had previously been argued primarily in the neoconservative camp, became firmly entrenched in the group think permeating broader foreign policy circles: that the status quo in U.S. foreign policy vis a vis the Muslim world was no longer an acceptable norm. Change was required, and a vast realignment of priorities was deemed necessary to counter the virulent anti-Americanism that was manifesting itself in brutal terrorist attacks and belligerent ideologies. Although tactical and strategic differences remained among the various foreign policy cliques, the need for re-evaluation was almost unanimous.

The most strident voices, those belonging to the neoconservatives in the Pentagon and the White House, were the ones that dominated the debate and shaped the policies adopted by the Bush administration. As such, these iconoclastic purveyors of their own version of the "new approach" became synonymous with the movement for change itself. Unfortunately, the other models for change were ignored, and opponents to the prevailing strategies (manifested in the doctrine of pre-emptive war) were labeled reactionaries who sought a return to the old failed policies. This has stifled the discourse, and obscured the many reasonable propositions that have been put forward as an alternative to the neoconservative narrative.
In essence, the neoconservatives hijacked two emerging strains of thought: 1) Something needed to change or at least be tweaked in terms of our Middle East foreign policy, and 2) Democracy promotion was a legitimate goal to achieve the goal of combating terrorism. The neocons succeeded in subsuming these two objectives under the unitary policy of regime change through the military invasion of Iraq and forcible ouster of Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist leadership. But there are many problems with this approach, and it is wrong to think these various strategies are one in the same. There were other ways to address both points raised above outside of the invasion of Iraq - which I will address in the third part of this series.

For one, it has been argued that military intervention has rarely been utilized successfully in the past. Therefore, the use of such a tactic should be greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism. Again, I quote from my previous post:

History is on the side of those that caution against the use of military means to achieve these ends, however praiseworthy they may be. Author
Michael Lind weighs in on the subject from the left:

The record is clear--most of the democratic transitions that have taken place in the world in the past two centuries have had nothing to do with foreign military intervention or military pressure, while most US military interventions abroad have left dictatorship, not democracy, in their wake. The two cases that neocons constantly return to, Germany and Japan, are among the few cases where democracy has been restored (not created ex nihilo) as the result of a US invasion. The Soviet bloc democratized itself from within in the 1990s, even though the United States did not bomb Moscow, impose a martial-law governor on the Poles or imprison former Hungarian Communist officials without charges in barbed-wire camps. In Latin America, Mexico became a multiparty democracy instead of a one-party dictatorship without US Marines posing for photos in the presidential mansion in Mexico City, and it was not necessary for American soldiers to kill tens of thousands of Argentines, Chileans and Brazilians for democracy to take root in those countries.

One must hope that American soldiers leave behind a functioning democracy in Iraq--rather than the dysfunctional autocracies and kleptocracies that were the legacy of US military occupations in the Philippines, Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Mexico. But it is likely that, if and when liberal democracy comes to the Muslim world in general and to the Arab world in particular, the gradual, largely bloodless transition will resemble those in Soviet Europe and Latin America and will not be the result of US military action or intimidation. The neocons--and the humanitarian hawks on the left--are simply wrong about how best to spread democracy.
Dissenting neoconservative author, scholar and professor Francis Fukuyama offers these observations from the right:

Of all of the different views that have now come to be associated with neoconservatives, the strangest one to me was the confidence that the United States could transform Iraq into a Western-style democracy, and go on from there to democratize the broader Middle East. It struck me as strange precisely because these same neoconservatives had spent much of the past generation warning - in The National Interest's former sister publication, The Public Interest, for example - about the dangers of ambitious social engineering, and how social planners could never control behavior or deal with unanticipated consequences. If the United States cannot eliminate poverty or raise test scores in Washington, DC, how does it expect to bring democracy to a part of the world that has stubbornly resisted it and is virulently anti-American to boot?

Krauthammer picks up this theme in his speech. Noting how wrong people were after World War II in asserting that Japan could not democratize, he asks, "Where is it written that Arabs are incapable of democracy?" He is echoing an argument made most forthrightly by the eminent Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, who has at several junctures suggested that pessimism about the prospects for a democratic Iraq betrays lack of respect for Arabs. It is, of course, nowhere written that Arabs are incapable of democracy, and it is certainly foolish for cynical Europeans to assert with great confidence that democracy is impossible in the Middle East. We have, indeed, been fooled before, not just in Japan but in Eastern Europe prior to the collapse of communism.

But possibility is not likelihood, and good policy is not made by staking everything on a throw of the dice. Culture is not destiny, but culture plays an important role in making possible certain kinds of institutions-something that is usually taken to be a conservative insight. Though I, more than most people, am associated with the idea that history's arrow points to democracy, I have never believed that democracies can be created anywhere and everywhere through sheer political will. Prior to the Iraq War, there were many reasons for thinking that building a democratic Iraq was a task of a complexity that would be nearly unmanageable. Some reasons had to do with the nature of Iraqi society: the fact that it would be decompressing rapidly from totalitarianism, its ethnic divisions, the role of politicized religion, the society's propensity for violence, its tribal structure and the dominance of extended kin and patronage networks, and its susceptibility to influence from other parts of the Middle East that were passionately anti-American.

But other reasons had to do with the United States. America has been involved in approximately 18 nation-building projects between its conquest of the Philippines in 1899 and the current occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the overall record is not a pretty one. The cases of unambiguous success-Germany, Japan, and South Korea-were all ones in which U.S. forces came and then stayed indefinitely. In the first two cases, we were not nation-building at all, but only re-legitimizing societies that had very powerful states. In all of the other cases, the U.S. either left nothing behind in terms of self-sustaining institutions, or else made things worse by creating, as in the case of Nicaragua, a modern army and police but no lasting rule of law.
Despite the bi-partisan warnings of Lind and Fukuyama regarding the limited efficacy of the United States' use of military interventions to successfully nation build, there are occasions when regime change and nation building are necessary to preserve our safety, security and well-being. This was the case in World War II era Japan and Germany, and this was the case in Taliban-led Afghanistan. Even Fukuyama and Lind concede this. Similarly, the invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent nation building efforts have received widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans. Ironically, the major critique emanating from the left is not that the invasion was undertaken in the first place, but that too few troops were used, the tactics were not thoroughly confrontational with more parties in the country, and not enough resources were committed to the subsequent rebuilding efforts. Both Senators Kerry and Edwards have been vociferous supporters of the invasion of Afghanistan, although they have voiced many of the concerns often cited on the left.

Afghanistan was still a risky endeavor considering the sensitivities in the Muslim world regarding the history of U.S. foreign policy - a checkered past that has included the support of despots (including Saddam), the destabilization of leaders and nations, and in the case of Mossadegh in Iran, even spearheading a CIA coup to topple a democratically elected leader in favor of imposing a dictator - the Shah. The Iranians did not forget this, and the Ayatollah Khomenei was the result of a society radicalized by a despots rule, which, ironically, had been relatively moderate and progressive before the overthrow of their democracy at the hands of the U.S. We are still paying for this ugly chapter in our history.

Add to this, the long list of current grievances, some justified some imagined, that Osama so effectively evokes, distorts, and propagandizes, and it becomes clear that invading Afghanistan was a very delicate matter, and one that could serve to inflame passions in the Muslim world - which would in turn have greatly aided al-Qaeda's efforts.

But much to the chagrin of Osama Bin Laden, Afghanistan did not spark the showdown with the West that he had sought. As Michael Scheuer pointed out in his book, Imperial Hubris, Bin Laden was deeply disappointed that the toppling of the Taliban was not a watershed moment for his movement to inspire widespread revolt in the Muslim world. So what went right about Afghanistan? The Ackerman article I cited in my prior post quoted Senator Joe Biden:

"Remember all the talk that the Muslim street was going to rise up if we went into Afghanistan?" One reason it didn't was the near-unanimity of the international community in support of the invasion.
The importance of this near-unanimity in the international community cannot be overstated - especially in the Muslim world. Contrary to the designs of Bin Laden, most Muslims were outraged, shocked and disgusted by the outrage of 9/11. The mayor of Teheran condemned the attacks, there were candlelight vigils across that country, leaders of various nations as well as religious leaders were vocal in their condemnations. Ackerman describes the reaction at Cairo's Al Azhar mosque, "the closest thing Sunni Islam has to a Vatican."

Days after September 11, 2001, Al Azhar's university rector, Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, issued a Koranic condemnation of the attacks: "Attacking innocent people is not courageous, it is stupid and will be punished on the Day of Judgment."
In addition to these Muslims, many of those that rejoiced at the outcome realized that America was justified in invading Afghanistan (of course there were many hard-liners and al-Qaeda supporters who remained steadfast in their opposition to U.S. involvement, but these aren't the ones we can reach anyway). The general perception in the world was that the United States was justified, al-Qaeda needed to be dealt with, and the United States had no ulterior motives. In fact, the United States did have an ulterior motive of sorts, but it is one that was not unpopular: the concept that Afghanistan could be made more democratic, and through this, change the shape of the region. In this sense, Afghanistan did not hinder our efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim population we are trying to reach in order to isolate and marginalize the radicals. Still, the democracy promotion part of the equation is not so clear a victory.

Afghanistan was less than an ideal destination to attempt nation building and democracy promotion - and that is an understatement. The nation had been racked by decades of conflict, the economy was in shambles (which many in the economic precondition camp warned was a non-starter), the population consists of myriad disparate ethnicities and languages with competing interests, armed militias and warlords control various fiefdoms within the borders, there were none of the attendant democratic institutions or even precursors, and many other reasons. Given the size of the task, success would require enormous effort on the part of the United States and the international community. Decades of dedication, nurturing, aid, security personnel, focus and attention were needed to midwife this long suffering nation into modernity and democracy.

That being said, the stakes were high and the outcome was worth fighting for. If the U.S. could pull this off, the world - and more importantly the Muslim world - would be watching. This would have served to restore the image and credibility of the U.S. in the region of the world where our image was most in need of rehabilitation. We could erase the bitter memories of abandonment that many Afghanis and other Muslims harbor following our withdrawal from our first stint in Afghanistan during that nation's revolt against the Soviets. It would have gone a long way toward undercutting the ideological appeal of al-Qaeda - the U.S. would be seen as a force for good.

It was literally a matter of life or death. Which made our next decision that much more confounding. With the future of Afghanistan hanging in a precarious balance, the U.S. began withdrawing its resources, focus and attention from Afghanistan and immediately redirecting them to Iraq. In fact, many argue that we did not have enough troops in Afghanistan in the first place because of our preoccupation with Iraq. Here is James Fallows on the subject:

Because of that shift, the United States succeeded in removing Saddam Hussein, but at this cost: The first front in the war on terror, Afghanistan, was left to fester, as attention and money were drained toward Iraq. This in turn left more havens in Afghanistan in which terrorist groups could reconstitute themselves; a resurgent opium-poppy economy to finance them; and more of the disorder and brutality the United States had hoped to eliminate. Whether or not the strong international alliance that began the assault on the Taliban might have brought real order to Afghanistan is impossible to say. It never had the chance, because America's premature withdrawal soon fractured the alliance and curtailed postwar reconstruction. Indeed, the campaign in Afghanistan was warped and limited from the start, by a pre-existing desire to save troops for Iraq.

The rationale supporting democracy promotion in Iraq through the use of pre-emptive military invasion can be challenged on two broad fronts (for now I will leave aside the discussion of WMDs, oil acquisition, general deterrence, etc.). The first being, that the use of military force is rarely an effective tactic in pursuing these objectives. Relying on Lind and Fukuyama, I argue that success has been the exception not the rule in this regard, therefore making it a highly dubious strategy to begin with. While the military approach was suspect in Afgahnistan as well, it was seen as a necessary evil because of al-Qaeda's presence. Beyond that, however, attempting this grandiose design in Iraq at the time we elected to do so was an even bigger mistake for a number of reasons.

The first being timing. I remember feeling shock at the notion that the U.S. would be considering an elective war with yet another Muslim nation while the battle was still raging in Afghanistan. What myopia, I thought. How could we even consider such an action when one of our main objectives was improving our image in the Muslim world and winning the war of ideas against Bin Laden. Michael Scheuer had this to say:

Our choice of timing, moreover, shows an abject, even willful failure to recognise the ideological power, lethality and growth potential of the threat personified by Bin Laden, as well as the impetus that threat has been given by the US-led invasion and occupation of Muslim Iraq...

All Muslims would see each day on television that the United States was occupying a Muslim country, insisting that man-made laws replace God's revealed word, stealing Iraq's oil, and paving the way for the creation of a "Greater Israel." The clerics and scholars would call for a defensive jihad against the United States, young Muslim males would rush from across the Islamic world to fight U.S. troops, and there--in Islam's second holiest land--would erupt a second Afghanistan, a self-perpetuating holy war that would endure whether or not al-Qaeda survived.
The second paragraph of Scheuer's rebuke is relevant to another reason Iraq was a poor target in comparison to Afghanistan. Unlike Afghanistan, the U.S. did not enjoy the support of the world - again most importantly the Muslim world. The invasion was not seen as a legitimate act of national defense, while the ulterior motives seemingly abounded (oil, bases, influence, religious indoctrination, etc.). Osama, still smarting from his ideological and physical defeat in Afghanistan, was given what Scheuer termed a "Christmas gift he never thought he’d get." Consider the reaction to 9/11 from the Sunni Al Azhar mosque in Cairo that I cited above, and now the reaction to the invasion of Iraq.

Yet fury over the invasion of Iraq turned Al Azhar's denouncement of bin Laden into approval of his ideology. On the eve of the war, the mosque's scholars wrote, "According to Islamic law, if the enemy steps on Muslims' land, jihad becomes a duty on every male and female Muslim."
That was not, by any means, an isolated incident, and bin Laden has maximized the advantages we have bestowed upon him through the invasion. As James Fallows noted in the Atlantic Monthly article I cited in Part I

"I have been saying for years, Osama bin Laden could never have done it without us," a civilian adviser to the Pentagon told me this summer. "We have continued to play to his political advantage and to confirm, in the eyes of his constituency, the very claims he made about us." Those claims are that the United States will travel far to suppress Muslims, that it will occupy their holy sites, that it will oppose the rise of Islamic governments, and that it will take their resources. "We got to Baghdad," Michael Scheuer said, "and the first thing Rumsfeld said is, 'We'll accept any government as long as it's not Islamic.' It draws their attention to bin Laden's argument that the United States is leading the West to annihilate Islam." The Administration had come a long way from the end-of-Ramadan ceremony at the White House.
Understand, that I am not saying that in all scenarios our foreign policy should be tailored so as to receive the best possible reaction on the Muslim street. Afghanistan was necessary no matter what the eventual reaction - even though it was largely favorable or mixed. That being said, if you are going to attempt nation building and democracy promotion, and the goal of that democracy promotion is to win the war of ideas with Bin Laden and his ilk, then the perception of such moves among the demographic you are seeking to impact is of the utmost importance. It also increases the prospects for success. As Fareed Zakaria noted, "Spreading democracy requires allies, particularly among the targets of one's affection [emphasis added]."

The results have been disturbing. Well respected non-partisan groups like the International Institute for Strategic Studies have noted that al-Qaeda and other like-minded organizations have experienced a surge in recruitment. In many nations across the regions Bin Laden and Hussein are more popular than Bush himself - while the opinion of America has sunk to all time lows. The insurgency in Iraq itself has been gaining momentum rather than petering out. The frequency of attacks and casualties sustained have been mounting not receding. Reformers across the region have been undermined as the fundamentalists have gained in notoriety and support. The war in Iraq has helped Bin Laden more than it has hurt him, and spreading democracy has become more elusive and harder to advocate for the region's reformers. Again to quote Zakaria:

Bush does not seem aware that the intense hostility toward him in every country in the world (save Israel) has made it very difficult for the United States to be the agent of freedom. In every Arab country that I have been to in the last two years, the liberals, reformers and businessmen say, "Please don't support us. American support today is the kiss of death." [emphasis added]
Thus, the invasion of Iraq as an example of the doctrine of democracy promotion as a tool to counter the spread of radical anti-American jihadism has been a failure on many levels. First of all, the use of military power to achieve these ends was ill-advised from the start, as history has proven, and the present examples offer little in the way of refutation. Second, such force was not perceived as legitimate or justified, which endangered the mission and enraged the very people we were trying to appeal to. Further, the timing could not have been worse because of our commitments in Afghanistan and how such a distraction jeopardized that mission. Not to mention the propaganda coup it provided Bin Laden to have the U.S. simultaneously occupying two Muslim nations at once, one of which being the nation only second to Saudi Arabia in its number of significant holy sites. As for the choice of locations on other levels, I once again rely on the words of Fukuyama to describe the negatives:

...the fact that it would be decompressing rapidly from totalitarianism, its ethnic divisions, the role of politicized religion, the society's propensity for violence, its tribal structure and the dominance of extended kin and patronage networks, and its susceptibility to influence from other parts of the Middle East that were passionately anti-American.
Add to this volatile mixture, the astounding levels of incompetence the Bush team has shown in handling the reconstruction. While Bush supporters have been quick to label the difficulties as inevitable, or the result of "catastrophic success," and chastise the critics for enjoying the vantage point of 20/20 hindsight, the fact is that many of the problems were predicted in advance, planned for, and anticipated. Unfortunately, those experts, planners, generals, and career policymakers were ignored because of their perceived pessimism. The Future of Iraq Project was castoff. The work by the CIA, State Department, and Army war college utterly disregarded. In those reports, the various agencies consistently warned of looting, lawlessness, insurgencies, the perils of de-Ba'athification, disbanding the army, border security, the need for more troops, etc.

Although some have tried to spin the lack of manpower as a good strategy (limiting casualties), even Paul Bremer proclaimed that the lack of troops has endangered the mission. The truth is, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld didn't anticipate an insurgency, and didn't plan for border protection and looting - and if they did, they sure had a funny way of showing it. In truth, they were under the spell of the pollyannic predictions of con-man Ahmed Chalabi who proclaimed the troops would be greeted with flowers and candies. Remember, Woflowitz told Congress that the American presence in Iraq would be down to 30,000 troops by August 2003. Was he lying or just wildly off the mark? Almost all of the planning was based on a best case scenario appraisal. As a result, the future of Iraq remains in doubt, with the likelihood of a peaceful transition to a representative democracy appearing as likely as civil war and regional conflict on the one hand, or theocratic or other despotism on the other.

In conclusion, even if you favor active promotion of democracy on the part of the United States, military means are a flawed and ineffective tactic. But if you disagree with that contention, and believe that military invasion is a viable means, Iraq was a poor choice of targets considering the logistical realities in that country and how the invasion would be received amongst the targets of our "goodwill" and how this goodwill would impact on the spread and appeal of Bin Laden's ideology - which is the justification du jour for the invasion of Iraq amongst Bush supporters. Still, if you disagree with my first two conclusions, the timing of the invasion of Iraq was tragic because of the propaganda implications for Bin Laden, and more importantly the fact that Afghanistan has been recklessly ignored as a result. Finally, even if you disagree with all of these arguments, it is irrefutable that the Bush administration has shown an alarming level of incompetence in pursuing such a complex, problematic and idealistic endeavor. It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify this invasion on the grounds that it is a successful application of the doctrine of democracy promotion through pre-emptive invasion which will serve to undermine the appeal and popularity of radical anti-American organizations and thought. Every step of the way.

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