Saturday, June 03, 2006

Undertaken lightly?

I like j.d., I think he's a nice guy, as conservative bloggers go, and I don't to seem like I'm making trouble for him. His post about Iraq leaves some points unaddressed. He writes:
I believed and I still believe that the mission of bringing democracy to places where it doesn’t exist is a worthy one.
And I believe puppies are cute and love is a many-splendored thing. No one in the United States disputes the sentence above, and as such, it's empty rhetoric.
All people have rights that are inherent to them and based on universal principles (= “endowed by their Creator…”) and deserve to have an environment in which to exercise them. If force is necessary to bring about that environment, so be it.
I await our invasion of China, Burma, and – what the hell – the entire continent of Africa. Also much of Polynesia, North Korea, Russia, the rest of the Middle East and Central Asia, and Vietnam. What could go wrong?

Again, I don't disagree that Tom Jefferson had some good ideas. Imposing democracy through force has tended not to work when we've tried it. See Vietnam for one fascinating example. Iraq, as the point of discussion, seems like more evidence for my point.

Force has valid uses, and I suppose people would point to WWII as an example where imposing Democracy works. I'd have to point at the First World War as a counter-example then, so let's call the World Wars a push.

Using soft diplomacy, foreign aid, Peace Corps outreach and providing economic support for democracies tends to work much better. We should try it now and then.

What we have found is that it’s a hard business, and one not to be undertaken lightly.
I can't be entirely sure if j.d. recognizes that this is precisely and exactly what went wrong in Iraq. We tossed aside careful planning by the State Department for re-establishing civil society in Iraq. We ignored the publicly stated requests by commanding generals for 300-400,000 troops, preferring a smaller force which was more than capable of invading, but which everyone but the civilian commanders thought was far too small to successfully stabilize Iraq. As a result, looting and lawlessness became entrenched and sectarian militias formed. We had to welcome their help, but now they are the greatest threat to the continued integrity of Iraq and the safety of our troops.

Don Rumsfeld and his aides, especially Doug Feith (dubbed "fucking stupidest man in the world" by General Tommy Franks) and Ken Adelman thought that the invasion would be a cakewalk. They took it lightly, and thousands of people are dead as a result.

And this matters. The same people are rattling sabers around Iran, and they show no sign of having learned the lesson that j.d. expressed so simply. Democracy is worth promoting, and if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. And they can't do that.