Sunday, August 14, 2005

The reality check

I blogged earlier this weekend about the remarkable Washington Post article about the radical lowering of expectations that the Bush regime is peddling with regards to outcomes in Iraq. Jack Balkin makes exactly the right point:

When expectations are lowered to this degree, the question arises whether we have actually made the situation worse off by invading. For some time most Americans have assumed that both the Iraqi people and American interests are better off than they were when Saddam ruled the country with his ruthless totalitarian dictatorship. If, however, our withdrawal leaves the country falling into civil war and produces a new strongman with no respect for human rights, or splits the country into rival fiefdoms run by Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish dictators, it is not clear that either our interests or those of the Iraqi people will have been served by our invasion. We will have entered with the best of motives and produced the worst of outcomes.

The problem with using war to reshape the world is that war is uncontrollable. Once war is unleashed, events often spin out of control, coming back to haunt the more powerful country who began the attack. Throughout history many wars have undone countries confident of their superior power. We must hope that this war is at most a temporary setback for America and not a disaster with long term consequences for our ability to safeguard our legitimate interests at home and promote democracy and human rights abroad.

From this reasoning it's only a small step to realizing that it is very rational for many Americans to consider the Bush regime as much of a threat to their safety as the world's angry madrassis.

I'll be blogging more on that subject, later.

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