Tuesday, April 18, 2006

When The Icing Melts

Is Stanley Kurtz laying the groundwork for the public's acceptance of one last, but rather significant, adjustment of the goal posts vis-a-vis Iraq? Apropos of my prior post on the potential for Iraq's democracy to become yet one more casualty of OIF, Kurtz writes (via Atrios):

My point is that the quick democratization standard [in Iraq] was mistaken. We created a false standard for success, and that is our problem. Once we focus on the big picture, and off of the false standard of quick democratization, the public will see Iraq in a new way....We need to see peace and democracy in Iraq [as] icing on the cake. The real goal is the proof of resolve against Iran and others. If the public sees that, it might change its view of what's important and what success means. [emph. mine]

Better to opt for a more gradual democratization, one that is, perhaps, fifteen to twenty years down the road. Preceded by a period of soft, US-friendly despotism. Maybe a "savior" strongman is what's needed in the near future to right the chronological ship.

Come to think of it, what better way to drain the swamps of anti-American soaked Jihadism than to impose a US-friendly dictator in the region through a brutal and well publicized military campaign. With US troops garrisoned in-country to maintain the sovereignty of this dictatorship. So much for the democratic domino theory I guess.

According to Kurtz (today) democracy wasn't really as important a goal as sending a warning shot off of Iran's bow. I'd have to say that our attempt to frighten Iran with our display of military might may have, er, backfired along the way. No doubt they recognize our military superiority, but also our limitations in terms of "clearing, holding and building." And the unwillingness of the American people (especially the cut and spend GOP leaders) to come up with the funding for such expensive missions. Let alone the strains on our all-volunteer military that have been exposed.

If things had gone well in Iraq, it's quite conceivable that Iran would have felt the heat and been more cautious in their pursuit of nuclear power. Of course, completely underestimating Iran's ability to work against that outcome is gross negligence of the highest order. More so the lack of planning, inadequate troop strength, reliance on non-experts, dearth of impartial analysis, etc., that have contributed to the less than ideal outcome in this regard.

The non-nation state version of this "deterrent" theory was always more perplexing to me, though. This was the argument that we would "humiliate and bully" the "terrorists" into submission through our military endeavors in Iraq. According to this line of thought, we were going to scare potential Jihadists into abandoning their cause for fear of what we might do in retaliation. By taking out Saddam, we'll show a bunch of people willing to martyr themselves for their exalted mission that we mean business. And that any attempt on their part to become martyrs by attacking us will result in their....death? Got that would-be martyrs? You'll die.

Some deterrent.

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