The blogs of War
The Volokh Conspiracy wants to know...
First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?
After the end of the Cold War, we all celebrated because we thought that the world had finally become a safer place. Obviously, the threat of a major conflict between the superpowers became significantly less. Beyond that, we no longer had the prospect of fighting proxy wars, no more need to prop up dictators to maintain "spheres of influence".
Unfortunately, one of the saddest legacies of the Cold War is the number of Dictatorships that both sides used/cooperated with/supported in order to maintain the balance of power. In an era of nuclear pragmatism we (the United States) looked the other way when "our guy" abused his people, trampled rights, jailed opposition. Definitely not something to be proud of, but the alternative at the time was to allow the enemy gain advantage. It was war. Cold or not.
Totalitarian regimes work only if the powers in charge ensure that the economy works. As long as people have food in their stomach and a reasonable expectation of living their lives, seeing their children grow up, most really don't care who runs the government. BUT, if the ruling class screws up the economy, then people are going to start to care. People will want change, people will want a voice. The problem with totalitarian regimes is that there is no outlet for expression. Dissent is quashed. People are disenfranchised.
Extreme conditions create extreme people.
I for one, don't believe that terrorists hate freedom. In fact, I believe that terrorists in their own convoluted way want freedom. That is, freedom to do what they want to do. It's only when conditions are terrible that those who express radical ideas gain foothold and support. It's only then that the "freedom" they want looks so repulsive to us.
The catch phrase of the cold war was "containment". All we had to do was sit behind our two oceans and manipulate/assist other nations in our quest to contain communism. We could afford to be isolationists. But, then came 9/11.
The events of 9/11 showed us that our oceans no longer protect us. It showed us that a handful of people willing to die for their cause could hand us the largest loss of life perpetrated by an enemy in a single attack in our history. And that was with just a few planes.
What if next time it's a nuclear bomb? Chemical weapons? Biological attacks? We now live in an age when the actions of a few can destroy the lives of multitudes.
How do you "contain" that?
We face a new kind of war. Not against terrorists. They are only the symptom of the problem. We are at war against the injustices that create the conditions from which terrorism spring.
Then why invade Iraq?
Obviously, none of the hijackers were from Iraq. How many Iraqis are terrorists? From everything that I've read, very few.
Then why invade Iraq?
Saddam Hussein was a despot who indisputably made and used chemical weapons.
He [possibly] involved a terrorist who specialized in chemical weapons into his chemical weapons program.
The vested economic interest of our European Allies in Iraq gave them incentive to fall back to the Cold War pragmatic mentality of looking the other way while he held his people under his boot. Incentive to erode the sanctions and allow him to resume production of weapons of mass destruction. Allowing him the opportunity to give terrorists the means to 'bloody the nose' of the nation that checked his dreams of becoming Caliphate.
IF, (and that's a big if) we can succeed in assisting the Iraqis develop a democracy, there is no greater threat to the Mullahs in Iran. Iranians are already chafing under the Islamofacism in their country. How much faster would that foment if when they visit the Holy Shrines in Iraq, they view (and tell their countrymen) the benefits that democracy brings.
When the people of the Middle East see Iraq grow and prosper under democracy, how can they honestly believe that Israel is the source of all their problems. They will have to honestly evaluate the "benefits" of terrorism verses the benefits of democracy.
The lives lost now will only be a fraction compared to the lives to be lost in a world where terrorism has the seedbed to grow and thrive.
Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?
Blood sells. Good news is... well... boring.
Do I think there is a leftist slant in most reports from the front? Maybe, maybe not. Probably more than not. The real question is, are these stories accurate. Do they tell us the real picture? I think the recent Rathergate scandal illustrates that the Main Steam Media doesn't always get the story right. But that's ok. Bloggers have shown that they are more than capable of picking up the slack. It is now incumbent of bloggers to ensure that the information from Iraq shows the true picture. Good or bad.
Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success? the Hawks still Hawkish?
I think the establishment of a popularly elected government is the first measure. Secondly, will be when the Iraqis are capable of defending themselves from their enemies, without and within. Third, the establishment of the rule of law. And finally, a flourishing middle class.
Yep... still a Hawk.
UPDATE: Orin Kerr has posted the first initial responses to the questions he posed. Here are a few I think put forward some good arguments.
Thinking as a Hobby
The Shadow of the Olive Tree
Casualty of Capitalism
Dr. B's Finest
The Debate Link
UPDATE: Added qualifier 'possibly' to the link between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein's Chemical program. There are reports of his ties to Ansar al-Islam and their ties to Saddam, but these reports are disputed. Also added supporting links.