Monday, November 19, 2007

Stabbed If You Do, Stabbed If You Don't

Glenn Reynolds, master swordsman of Dolchstoss (via P-Diddy):

If, as seems likely, Iraq succeeds, Republicans will be able to say it was in spite of the Democrats' efforts. If, as remains possible, it fails, Republicans will be able to say it was because of the Democrats' efforts.

What remarkable analysis. Without definining, or even hinting at the definition of "success," Reynolds breezily sweeps aside myriad factors that have contributed to the failure of the Iraq endeavor to leave the blame solely at the feet of the Democrats. Not satisfied to leave the Dems on the hook for failure, Reynolds suggests that even if Iraq does succeed, we could still blame the Democrats for its near-failure. The troops have been stabbed in the back and that much is sure, says Reynolds, but the patient might yet pull through.

This type of crass revisionism is only possible by first embracing two rather blatant counterfactuals. The first major exercise in willful blindness involves the dumbing down, and misrepresentation, of the complexity of war and democracy promotion.

Simply disregard the enormous difficulty of successfully birthing democracy from preventitive war - a strategy without a successful precedent in history (creating democracy through any type of war is itself extremely rare relatively speaking). Then, put aside the pivotal crisis created by the post-regime change power vacuum that was filled with too few troops, and the subsequent conflicts that were allowed to percolate based on the ensuing struggle for money, power and control.

Throughout, ignore or downplay the endless litany of rank incompetence displayed by the Bush administration and a CPA populated with far too many underqualified ideologues who were more obedient than capable - from decisions such as the disbandment of the Iraqi army, to pervasive de-Baathification to lax oversight that has invited corruption and embezzlement in the handling of both funds and weapons. Table the deletirious effects of regional powers and populations that have augmented and intensified many of the internal conflicts pitting various factions against each other. For starters.

The second leap of ignorance requires one to vastly exaggerate the Democrats' influence on the war effort to a point that resides beyond absurdity. Recall, the war was started with a healthy level of Democratic approval. Regardless, and throughout the vast majority of its existence, the war has been fought with a Republican in the White House and a Republican controlled Senate and House that worked together in seamless unison. Even with the recent gains by the Democrats in the House and Senate, President Bush has gotten everything he's asked for in Iraq legislation (even if he has had the burden of having to initially veto certain legislation that he has found unacceptable).

In Reynolds' world, though, none of this matters. Bush and his GOP compatriots have not been the cause of failures in Iraq even though they have been in control of every decision - large and small - every step of the way. Nor do the Iraqi people or regional rivals have any agency, apparently. No, an impotent, out of power Democratic Party that has made a total of zero decisions, and passed not a single piece of legislation against Bush's wishes, will be the cause of failure in Iraq, or the chief obstacle to a success that comes only through perseverence in the face of such obstructionism.

Heh. Indeed.

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