Friday, November 24, 2006
But the hangman isn't hanging so they put you on the street:
Anne-Marie Slaughter's piece in the Gigantic Self-Parody issue of TNR is among the more interesting ones. She takes a tour d'horizon and finds that Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia are threatened by the Iraqi civil war:
If we pull out, Iran has a civil war on its borders, as do Syria and Saudi Arabia. All have good reasons to fear this scenario. Suddenly, instead of the United States being tied down in Iraq and thus unable to play a broader role in the region, Iran would find itself tied down in Iraq and thus unable to play a broader role in the region, while the United States could go back to being a regional power broker. Syria would likely see an increased flow of refugees as chaos in Iraq worsened. Saudi Arabia would need to contend with the threat posed by Iranian influence among Iraqi Shia. And all three would have to worry about the possibility of Al Qaeda gaining a permanent foothold in Iraq.
All right, not a bad proposition: we leave, and our regional adversaries/uncomfortable ally (as more or less settled-upon by bipartisan consensus) are in a world of trouble. Stunningly, AMS still finds this to be undesirable -- or, rather, an opportunity to leverage... something or other. She writes:
Against this backdrop, we and the European Union--and possibly the Russians, although Russia has a strong incentive to keep the entire Middle East on a low boil in order to maintain high oil prices--should organize an Iraqi peace conference, inviting representatives of the Shia, Kurdish, and Sunni communities within Iraq, as well as Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and some of the Gulf states. ... The most important task for the United States is to make unequivocally clear that this is the last chance for all parties to negotiate while U.S. troops are still in Iraq.
To which it should be said: What? If you suppose that the U.S.'s regional opponents for hegemony are screwed if we leave, and your objective is to preserve U.S. hegemony -- use whatever euphemism you like, liberal -- then we should endeavor to leave immediately.

This is a classic example of a liberal-hawk's hawkishness undermining her liberalism, and then rebelling to subordinate her hawkishness within her liberalism
. AMS contends, in so many words, that we have a first-order interest in pulling out of Iraq and allowing the civil war to consume our adversaries instead of us. She finds this distasteful, and shameful, and not without some reason: civil wars are bad. But strategically, this is a hash of sentiment masquerading as liberalism. If we have an interest in leaving, and not in staying, get the fuck out of Iraq. And if you're not comfortable doing what's in America's interests, shut the fuck up about foreign policy and national security.
--Spencer Ackerman
Right, but the warmongers still see their Iraq project as a big gift basket of liberty to the Middle East.

If the U.S. withdraws for strategic reasons, the New Republic types will have to eat their pretty words about liberalism, democracy and all that shit. The second justification for the war(after WMD) will evaporate and they will look like ass-hats.
Blogger The Special | 3:57 PM

"Put me down on the side of Anne-Marie Slaughter, however. The proper grand strategy for the U.S. is not one of jockeying for advantage and causing trouble for our "enemies" by creating situations in which lots of hapless innocents get killed. The proper grand strategy for the U.S. is that of a hegemonic benevolent superpower seeking to spread peace and prosperity throughout the globe." - Brad DeLong
Blogger Dustin Ridgeway | 10:50 PM

I'll pass on American benevolence, lately it's been too torture-y for me.
Blogger The Special | 10:01 AM

Yes but Spencer, what if a large scale civil war in Iraq is bad for some of our regional adversaries AND our interests?

In fact, I think it's both. Not only would our adversaries likely be caught up in the maelstrom, but so would many allies.

In addition, that type of raging conflict within Islam would have many destabilizing effects that could and would redound to the benefit of the bin Laden's and others that strive on conflict zones and failed states.

Not to mention what it would do to our already tarnished image and repuation.

I think a sensible case can be made that it is actually in our interest to find common ground with our adversaries on this issue.
Blogger Eric | 10:19 AM

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Blogger Fibercement | 3:10 AM