Oh,let it be the end!

I stopped reading Thomas  Friedman several years ago, but I couldn’t resist his latest column commemorating the departure of the last U.S. soldiers from Iraq.  He called it, The End, For Now.  Oh, would that it was the end of his scribbling!!

A few morsels to choke on:

With the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Iraq, we’re finally going to get the answer to the core question about that country: Was Iraq the way Iraq was because Saddam was the way Saddam was, or was Saddam the way Saddam was because Iraq is the way Iraq is — a collection of sects and tribes unable to live together except under an iron fist.

I suppose this was the reason for the war:  just a big intellectual experiment.

Iraq was always a war of choice. As I never bought the argument that Saddam had nukes that had to be taken out, the decision to go to war stemmed, for me, from a different choice: Could we collaborate with the people of Iraq to change the political trajectory of this pivotal state in the heart of the Arab world and help tilt it and the region onto a democratizing track?

Is this the same guy who was jumping up and down shouting about WMDs in Iraq?  Perhaps he is drawing a fine distinction here:  “Oh, I said WMDs, but I never said “nukes

But was it a wise choice?  My answer is twofold: “No” and “Maybe, sort of, we’ll see.”

I say “no” because whatever happens in Iraq, even if it becomes Switzerland, we overpaid for it. And, for that, I have nothing but regrets. We overpaid in lives, in the wounded, in tarnished values, in dollars and in the lost focus on America’s development. Iraqis, of course, paid dearly as well.

Here, Tom follows the great American tradition of celebrating and mourning our losses, while those losses we caused to our ‘friends’ were so much larger:  2 million Vietnamese, half a million Iraqi civilians… of course, of course.

 So no matter the original reasons for the war, in the end, it came down to this: Were America and its Iraqi allies going to defeat Al Qaeda and its allies in the heart of the Arab world or were Al Qaeda and its allies going to defeat them?

Al Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq until we offered them an invitation there by reducing the country to primitive chaos.  With people like Friedman, no need for real enemies:  we’ll create them as we go along.

…the most important product of the Iraq war: the first ever voluntary social contract between Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites for how to share power and resources in an Arab country and to govern themselves in a democratic fashion. America helped to midwife that contract in Iraq, and now every other Arab democracy movement is trying to replicate it — without an American midwife. You see how hard it is.

So, the ‘Arab Spring’ arose in imitation of our war in Iraq?  That jerry-rigged “democracy”, which may be falling to bits as I write, is what they were striving for?  We are truly a beacon to the future!

The best-case scenario for Iraq is that it will be another Russia — an imperfect, corrupt, oil democracy that still holds together long enough so that the real agent of change — a new generation, which takes nine months and 21 years to develop — comes of age in a much more open, pluralistic society. . . I don’t know if Iraq will make it. The odds are really long, but creating this opportunity was an important endeavor, and I have nothing but respect for the Americans, Brits and Iraqis who paid the price to make it possible.

Wow!  So that’s what it all comes down to?  An “important endeavor,” a few hundred thousand dead civilians, lots of dead and maimed soldiers of our own, untold havoc to our federal budget, a gaping hole in the credibility of our government, and, oh yes, a lot of respect from Mr. Tom.  Not to mention the very real possibility that it will all unravel completely in the very near future into the fulfillment of the fiasco that began it.

5 Responses to Oh,let it be the end!

  1. Man of Roma says:

    Hi Lichanos,

    This post interested me a lot, was pleasant and funny to read (and I agree with every single word of it).

    Unfortunately not all the American bloggers I know –with which I though have a solid virtual friendship – would agree with it. But that is normal. I’m not here to blame the right-wing Americans or any right-wing person (we have many too here) who has the right to think what she / he deems right.

    I indicated this post to the Canadian Paul Costopoulos, in a mail. If he pops up here I’m sure he’ll like it too.

    I wish you and your beloved ones a merry vacation period, Lichanos!


    • Lichanos says:

      Thanks, Man of Roma! And a great Xmas, New Year, and Three Kings to you!

      I think that most Americans have stopped thinking about Iraq completely. Over, done, past…the economy! But Friedman was such a cheerleader for the war – I don’t know how much influence on policy such journalists actually have, especially over GWB, but they must have a lot on public opinion of the ‘educated’ classes – that I had to comment. He is considered a genuine ‘public intellectual’ here, but his commentary is at such a low level of analysis. And he is so removed from reality…

      A friend tells me that the first book he wrote, about globalization, was actually quite good. With success, and money, and being married into a very wealthy family, often comes detachment and complacency, and a love affair with the sound of one’s own voice…

  2. I agree that these comments from Friedman are a bit lame and sound like a justification of a bad decision.
    You are right in believing that the whole thing will unravel and is unravelling right now as the Hashemi affair proves.
    Irak will shortly prove to be another Yugoslavia after Tito.

  3. Ducky's here says:

    I don’t know Tom, those bombings today don’t point to Irraq emulating Sweden any time soon.

    And the Kurds are already getting a little frisky to boot.

  4. gfwt says:

    Lichanos, I agree 100%. What a pathetic exercise in anguished navel gazing. “What had gone wrong? Hadn’t we been, in some sense, RIGHT? Were we wrong to ‘dare to be great’? Is it wrong to love freedom – and hope that, one day, it too can be ” BLA BLA BLA BLA BLA, instead of manning up and saying “Everything I said was completely wrong, and I have learned not to spend time with the misguided jackasses that impressed me at the time”.

    Come to think of it, it’s the same reason I look down so much on David Brooks, all that hand-wringing and earnestness, while never really relenting on, or even apparently examining, his own agenda….

    Yuck. (Sorry to segway into David Brooks. Friedman isn’t usually that bad, he’s just got little to say.)

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