Towards A Good Samaritan World

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Iraqi blogger Zeyad, now a journalism intern at the New York Times, writes:

Another close friend of mine has been killed in Baghdad. We had lunch together in Baghdad just days before I left.

I can't concentrate on anything any more. I should not be here in New York running around a stupid neighbourhood, asking people about their 'issues'.

I now officially regret supporting this war back in 2003. The guilt is too much for me to handle.

So what about me? Do I regret supporting the war now? The problem with changing one's mind is that one needs to develop an alternative opinion. If my view in 2003 was that I very narrowly and tentatively supported the war because of the Golden Rule-- if I were an Iraqi, I'd want to be liberated, and also I rejected the notion that a guy like Saddam who kills his way to the top has a right to rule in any sense-- then what is the view that, retrospectively, I should have taken? Zeyad offers no alternative, nor any explanation. He's overwhelmed and is trying to escape the sense of guilt. Somehow that seems not to be good enough.

The "realist" alternative seems as unpersuasive and wicked as ever. The version of liberal internationalism that regards even a totalitarian regime as inviolably sovereign seems as rotten as ever. The vague notion that "peace" is the right way and we should always talk and negotiate is as muddle-headed as ever. Some kind of synthesis of the pro-war case and the anti-war arguments is needed.


  • If I knew then what I know now, I would still support intervention just as soon as it was going to be run by people who took it seriously.

    By Blogger Nato, at 6:43 AM  

  • Nato's position is an appealing one for a hawk to take, and it's been taken by many, from Ralph Peters to Andrew Sullivan.

    At the end of the day, though, I don't buy the idea that "someone else would have done it better." My own judgment from reading the punditry and the political opposition is that everyone else was at least as confused as the Bush administration.

    That said, soldiers like Nato have a certain degree of inside information, so their views are entitled to special respect.

    By Blogger Lancelot, at 9:23 AM  

  • Pre-war confusion? Pat Buchanan on the Right, intelligence men Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern then on the Right, sundry others on the Left had exposed the pre-war lies of the Pentagon's OSP under Douglas Feith re WMDs.

    The occupying US soldier in Iraq however is STILL "confused." As of February 2006, a Zogby poll showed the dominant majority believed they
    were there primarily as payback for Saddam's helping Osama do 9/11, an impression purposely left by the corrupt Bush administration.

    Finn's "were I an Iraqi" daydreaming is arrogantly contemptible. He imposes late Western concepts of "freedom" on a hypothetical scenario AND on another people to boot. Wicked in and of itself.

    But the premise that the US government operates without power concerns post 9/11 is belied by its
    alliance currently with Uzbekistan's tyrant,
    whom Cheney misrepresents as a democrat, by documented pre-war plans to co-opt oil fields and protect Israel at all costs, and by
    rudimentary knowledge of human nature.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:44 AM  

  • It seems to me that no one in the OSP needed to lie - they were just so incompetent that they could really believe whatever they wanted. I remember being told to find evidence that Sunni and Shia insurgent networks were working hand-in-hand - something I found a patently idiotic idea that could only have come from people who had only the dimmest idea of how Iraqi society worked. Nonetheless, they managed to cherry-pick reports enough to maintain that retarded conviction for a while until we put out specific reports utterly debunking the possibility of significant cooperation. Of course, these were not trained intelligence professionals but field commanders who might at best have taken a brief introductory course in intelligence analysis and interpretation. The OSP appears to have been run by similarly untrained, inexperienced leaders who probably didn't even realize how inevitably their preconceptions were going to determine their conclusions in the absence of ordinary intelligence procedures.

    The real intellectual dishonesty was those who created OSP and allowed it to corrupt the sythesis process which yeilded to the executive and legislative branch poisoned intelligence. Is that Perle's fault? Rummy's? I don't really know, but it seems likely to be somewhere in that ballpark.

    By Blogger Nato, at 12:21 PM  

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