A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Friday, January 23, 2004 :::
Friend Tom writes in pointing out that now is a little late to be anti-war. True enough, and a very serious point, which deserves as serious an answer as this writer can come up with.

There are two different questions:

We have to stay and complete what we have started. Period. What that is to be is anyone's guess, but our political control, for some reason, is to end on July 1. Yet another decision based on a briefing paper.

The members of the Iraqi Governing Council--most of them, anyway--owe their positions to us. Most of them have no armed supporters, no organizations on the ground. Many others, we should have known, do, and, those who didn't have armies simply confiscated all the arms that Secretary Rumsfeld did not think we needed to protect. So we are going to have to try and find a way to help them live together.

Aside from a very educated populace, no one has explained what traditions the Iraqi people are going to draw on in running a democracy. A strong man makes more sense in the interim, and the betting here is that one will arise. Nature abhors a vacuum, and that is what Saddam has left. Civil life is returning, in the form of small markets, and the educational system was swiftly cleansed of Saddamist material. Whether those small signs of life will be swept aside by something else is the question.

But we have to stick it out.

The piece that appeared here yesterday was of a different sort, and fast writing left the thought incomplete. This writer was only happy about the war when listening to anti-war demonstrators, whose world view seemed most often some combination of naive, arrogant, and often dismissive of the plight of others. ("What has Saddam done to me?") There were some--including some friends--who were otherwise, but not the ones on TV. If that repellant noise was ignored, the whole project seemed rash and barely justifiable. And this writer now feels very strongly that it has been revealed to be so, given all the other very real problems.

The point of going back over that is that the men who were most set on it--Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld--still hold a lot of sway with conservatives. There are still quite a few people who think this has gone well and that we should just march on Damascus and Tehran and be done with it. But we are not done with anything. The war in Afghanistan is still going strong, as is the one in Iraq. The point of going back over it all is to make sure that we are not sucked into a situation that would simply spin out of control.

The specific points of yesterday's blog were two: can we trust people who "just forgot" to consider the wishes of a man who speaks for 60% of the population?

And maybe, just maybe, to convince a policy wonk that when he hears, "Oh, the Shi'ites believe that Muslim clerics should not be involved in government," he will have the nerve to ask, "but what does that really mean?"

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 11:05 AM



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