Before beginning, it’s worth stating our position at the Curious Mechanism. We hold to a philosophy of war stated by Ernest Hemingway: “But never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” If a scale were made, with absolute pacifists on the left extreme and violent tyrants and war-hawks on the right, we admit we would fall somewhat left of center. We admit the necessity of the Armed Forces and of war and violent conflict, but readily admit (as most would) that we wish this were not the case. While we can intellectually grasp the necessity of war, we’re glad others are in charge of the military, because we are uncertain how prepared we would be to have others killed, and to send our countrymen to be killed at the same time. We grasp the possible necessity and justification of war, but we struggle to ignore or reconcile this with the crime that is war.
At this moment in time, the United States is, obviously, engaged in its worldwide War on Terror. In the past, Mr. Thursday has denounced the war as being a bad idea, as it falls under the category of War Against A Non-Specific Enemy. However, whether going into Iraq was a good idea is no longer a relevant topic, and we must as Americans consider the best possible course of action for this war from here out.
The options are, as far as well know, the following:
- Leave Iraq, allowing the various factions to fight each other
- Stay in Iraq, trying to control a large and violent country with a small and under-supplied force
- Stay in Iraq, expanding the fight, adding more troops, weapons, etc.
The most popular of these ideas seems to be the first, at the moment. It is, in the fact, the one that Mr. Thursday has adhered to since before heading to Iraq. The second of these is the current administration’s “Stay the Course” strategy. The third of these is, perhaps, the most vilified option, in which, instead of pulling out of Iraq we send in more and more soldiers, in an effort to solidify peace. Which of these, if any, is the best course of action is something we’ll attempt to address. Forgive us the poor job we’re likely to do.
There is, of course, no debate that September 11th, 2001 led to our invasion of Iraq. Whether or not Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction, or ties to Al-Qaeda are open to a great deal of histrionic debate, but the fact is that had the World Trade Center never been attacked, President Bush would not have the authority necessary for a “pre-emptive war” and accompanying land invasion that has, so far, cost the lives of nearly 3,000 American troops and 50,000 Iraqi civilians. September 11th was the birthday ground for the War on Terror, and the question just now being asked: Is this a fight we should be pursuing?
We–the United States–have pursued the War on Terror as a form of aggressive self-defence. Every election, the debate comes up on whether a certain politician is strong enough on “national defence”, which is to ask whether that leader, if elected, will pursue this war efficiently and intelligently. We are killing others so that we may not be attacked again, and by proxy, so our allies will not be attacked in the future. We have an enemy who neither agrees with nor fears nor respects us, and we wonder if that is why we can be attacked so easily. Islamofascists, as lame-duck Senator Rick Santorum named the enemy, believe they can attack the United States, and the United States does not have the will or power or both requisite to punish them for their crimes.
If the United States leaves Iraq, these so-called Islamofascists are, at least in their minds, validated. While it’s probable that Iraq will erupt when the insufficient peace-keeping force the U.S. has in Iraq is withdrawn, there are questions as to what will happen in 2 or 5 or 10 years when the Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds has sorted themselves out. Whoever comes out on top of that mess will undoubtedly view the United States was “weak,” and desire to cause as much trouble as they can. Furthermore, pulling out allows alpha dog Iran to roll in, and since American and Iran are not exactly buddies right now, we’re not sure if this is really a good idea.
As for the third option, well, it’s a doozy. Most of the proponents of this path have been called “war-hawks” by their critics. While that label may be true in some cases, the Curious Mechanism considers them more likely, “realists.” In order to “win” the War on Terror, the United States needs to make a statement with the Sub-War in Iraq. It needs to show possible allies who are keeping their distance from this mess that this war is winnable, and show various enemies that we are relentless in our pursuit of… well, whatever we are pursuing. Relentless in our pursuit of our enemies? Of peace? Of better sleep?
But the United States, if they choose to expand the Sub-War in Iraq, must not only fight to win, but they must win the “American Way”. Human rights violations like Guantanamo Bay and and Abu-Ghraib must never occur. Civilian deaths must be kept to a minimum. Policy must be strong but merciful. It is that mercy that divides the ambitious country trying to make a free and democratic world from the ruthless tyrant slowly trying to take it over.
The rest of the world needs to know, if the War on Terror is to succeed, that the United States is of vast power, but that we are also the standard for what is right about the world. That we are the foremost promoters of prosperity and understanding.
Mr. Thursday would like to see the United States win the War on Terror and the Sub-War in Iraq, but not at any cost. We hope the United States has realized, or is realizing, the errors they have made so far, and will do everything possible and unlikely to correct their mistakes and ensure they do not recur. We don’t pretend to know whether the Sub-War in Iraq can be won at an “acceptable cost”–a term we put in quotationmarks because we do not understand how many lives are “acceptable” in the name of democracy. We also realize that pulling out of Iraq seems to invalidate the lives of the 3,000 dead soldiers. If this is a war that cannot be won, we hope 3,000 dead is all we have.
We’ll resume less serious posting next time, with snarky remarks abounding.