Despite the rather cynical and mocking tone I've taken with respect to the whole Iraq thing lately, the truth is that all along I've had a rather Marshallian view of the issue (Josh, not Alfred). Though I wasn't convinced by the Washington Monthly article he wrote, I suppose that I, like him, was quite open to being convinced. I have been open to all of the possible justifcations for invading Iraq - humanitarian, national security, realpolitik, defense of Israel, etc... But, for me, all of them have fallen completely flat. Josh lays out one reason why:Indeed. Then again, it could be because of the siege mentality- they know that they're under fire and that a widely-supported invasion becomes less and less likely every day, and also know that a unilateral invasion would be militarily possible but politically suicidal. They've been thrashing about, looking for some way to bring their critics onside, or at least marginalize them to the extent that it's no longer a big problem, and they can get the multilateral support that despite their unilateralism they obviously crave. (There's no other reason to explain Bush's appearance at the U.N.)
But let me discuss with you for a moment what I find the most difficult about this debate. The more ardent supporters of regime change lie a lot. I really don't know how else to put it. I'm not talking about disagreements over interpretation. I mean people saying things they either know to be false or have no reason to believe are true. Perhaps the word 'lie' is a very slight exaggeration. Perhaps it's better to say they have a marked propensity to assert as fact points for which there is virtually or absolutely no evidence. How's that?
From the desperate attempts to link 9/11 to Saddam, to the repeated claims that he's a "bad man who gassed his own people" (with our support and our gas, essentially), to the misrepresentations of analyses of his potential for nuclear capability, to the knowingly false claim he "threw out the inspectors" (a failing process, admittedly), etc... etc... Not one element of this debate from the Hawks has been, by any stretch, honest.
I could have even lived with that, perhaps. But what I can't live with is that combined with the *zero* effort (And I Mean *ZERO*) to present (or formulate?) any conception for what Step 2 would be. No description of what an occupying force would be like - size and length. No description of plans for transition to a new government. Nothing.
The only guide we have are the collected writings of his advisors. And those are scary.
To be honest, that situation makes the lack of "what's next" pretty understandable. Those that might formulate it simply don't have the time, and those that do are either too optimistic, too incoherent, or too batshit insane to do any useful work in this regard. Then again, maybe the plan exists, but they don't want their critics getting their claws into it. Like so much else that comes out of that crowd, a scary thought.