Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Tenuous Case for Strategic Patience in Iraq

Anthony Cordesman, director of the Center for Strategic Studies, was the guest this morning on C-Span's Washington Journal. He is the author of the newest study on Iraq, The Tenuous Case for Strategic Patience in Iraq. You can read the report here. The man knows his stuff, to put it colloquially. He is a scholar of the middle East, Iraq in particular.

I was embarrassed for him with some of the callers, ignorant callers. One suggested to him that Iraq needs to have a democracy so that it becomes 'a civilized nation.' It did not take too long for Mr. Cordesman to assure the caller that Iraq had been a civilized nation for thousands of years before the British and Americans de-civilized it.

Another embarrassing call suggested that the problem in Iraq was the fault of the Democrats as did one other caller who said that if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, Americans would need to have an arsenal of guns in their homes, just as the Iraqi people.

The host asked Cordesman about the Dick Cheney question and answer he gave in a recent interview where Cheney was asked why, in 1991, he said that no American life was worth being sacrificed in going into Baghdad to get Saddam, but now he thinks it was the right thing to do. Cheney answered, "because of 9-11." Cordesman, instead of being unkind to Cheney, said that the Administration's biggest blunder was having no plan for the after-Saddam topple. That stupidity, he suggested, has caused much bloodshed, both ours and the Iraqis.

"American mentality is to blame," he declared. "We think in short terms only." He went on to lecture us on the consequences of such football logic. We fail to see the big picture, the long-term consequences, just like the British when they occupied Iraq.

His tone was one of despair; his hope for any meaningful outcome to the fiasco there was at best dim. One could detect in his voice and words that he had great pity for the people of Iraq and the awful consequences they have suffered at the hands of the British and Americans for the past 75 years. And the dumbed-down callers proved his conjecture very well.

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