Sunday, July 04, 2004

A realistic path to failure

John Kerry was doing so well there for a while, keeping his lip zipped and watching President Bush get flak about Iraq. But as if we needed further proof that Kerry's not really smart, he opened his mouth again.

His latest can be found in the WaPo here.
We know that a chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Eric Shinseki, was right when he argued that more troops would be needed to establish security and win the peace in the weeks and months after Saddam Hussein's fall.
Of course Shinseki's right and the rest of the Army is wrong, irrespective of what is actually happening in Iraq. I'm glad to see that the military has some dissenters because that shows that they have more ideas to consider. But then decisions have to be made and people have to get with the program, and if Shinseki won't get with the program he doesn't belong in the service. (Gosh, why couldn't he just get along with the rest of the generals, like Kerry would have the US kowtow to the UN?)

If Shinseki is right, then how did we manage to turn over Iraq to the Iraqis? We're not out of town yet, but surely if Shinseki were correct we'd be incurring more casualties than we are.
But if we are to reduce the overwhelming military and financial burden America is bearing and maximize the chances of success, we will need help from others.
Overwhelming? What tasks remain that will require any more troops there than what we already have? And if in the meantime our economy is coming back from the blows of Clinton's presidency, the 9/11 massacre and the war in Afghanistan, how can one meaningfully call the burden "overwhelming"?
We have to move our allies beyond the resentment they feel about the Bush administration's failed diplomacy so they can focus on their interest in fighting terrorism and promoting peace.
Our allies were beside us in the Iraq war. The snippy noncombatants who tried to keep us out to protect their investments in a dictator must learn that we will not tolerate free riders. France in particular has a huge Muslim population and will benefit disproportionately if radical Islam is eradicated.

We would do well to establish the principle that dictators are poor credit risks. Then enablers will think twice about selling them arms, chemical warfare equipment, reactors and other instruments for aggression internally and abroad.
The best way to do that is to vest friends and allies in Iraq's future.
From whose point of view? Certainly not that of the US. And the President of the US is expected to look out for US interests - if John Kerry can't suppress his internationalism and guard US sovereignty he's unfit for the job of President.
On the economic front, that means giving them fair access to the multibillion-dollar reconstruction contracts. It also means letting them be a part of putting Iraq's profitable oil industry back together. In return, they must forgive Hussein's multibillion-dollar debts to their countries and pay their fair share of the reconstruction bill.
No way. It's up to the Iraqis who rebuilds their country of course - they can snub us if they want but they ought to seize the opportunity to steer contracts to American firms as some sort of feeble payback for something they never could have achieved alone.

But the forgiveness of debt is non-negotiable. Most of it was for trade that was illegal, and we don't reward or indemnify criminal behavior. The backstabbers in Paris, Berlin and elsewhere got far more in intangible benefits from the cleaning of the snake pit in Iraq - that they didn't participate in the cleanup is a disgrace, and that they would dare suggest recovery of their losses is chutzpah beyond parallel. Have them negotiate with Dick Cheney - he'll know what to tell them.

Of course things could deteriorate in Iraq, especially if we aren't ready to kick the crap out of Iranian meddlers. No one, surely not John Kerry, knows how things will turn out, if they will turn out well, how long it will take to end our involvement, or if in the final analysis the entire affair will have turned out in the best interests of the US. IMO Bush did the right thing, as well as anyone else would have and a damned sight better than Al Gore would have. And for that and other reasons I'll swallow my dislike of some of his other policies to return him to the White House.

As for John Kerry, I hope he learns to put US interests first. If his self-esteem demands he run the US to meet the approval of Europeans or other outsiders, he's unfit to serve as President.

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