Tuesday, 28 September 2004

The Volokh Challenge : Iraq

Orin Kerr over at the Volokh Conspiracy asks 3 cogent questions of those who were in favour of the Iraq War.
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?

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?

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
My Answers:

Q1: Yes, I think it was an excellent idea - in fact, I'd even say it was not just a good idea, it was neccessary. My only quibble is that it didn't happen before, but because of League of Nations UN inertia, it couldn't have been arranged much sooner.
As to why? I think this is a complete answer. There are more reasons (according to Senator Kerry's count 23 in toto, according to my count at least 54 ), but this alone is sufficient.

Q2: My initial reaction is frankly, disbelief. So much so that I have to be careful not to automatically dismiss data that may be at least partially correct. There is ample evidence - I won't go into it here - that the stringers employed by the major news agencies outside Baghdad are extremely unreliable, and that the press corps in Iraq hardly ventures more than a few kilometres from their hotel rooms. Just go read any of the Iraqi blogs. Compare the track records of the news agencies with what we know are the facts now.
But the Kroll data adduced in the Washington Post (assuming it's correct - without primary sources available on the web, I can't verify the Post is accurate) - is both far more credible, and significant bad news. 700 attacks/week now vs 450/week just before the Iraqi 'caretaker' government was installed. And everyone - myself included - expects this rate to increase to a crescendo. Whether the crescendo will be just before November 2nd or in mid-January is another matter. My bet's the latter. The attacks on schools and hospitals, and the raids on infrastructure indicates that it's no longer Ba'athists hoping for a return of Saddam, nor even Jihadis striking a blow against the Infidel Zionist Crusaders polluting Holy Arab Soil by their presence. It's Al Qaeda. They genuinely want a populace ignorant, poor, and miserable, because that way they become spiritually virtuous, and are guaranteed a place in paradise.
This incredible (as in 'difficult to swallow') statement is what they have proclaimed publicly, though it hasn't been publicised much in MSM.
"It is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy"
If established in any Muslim country for a reasonably long time, democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which, in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith.

The Future of Iraq and The Arabian Peninsula After The Fall of Baghdad, Yussuf al-Ayyeri
Like the Tet Offensive, a move of desperation. Like the Tet Offensive, likely to be a military disaster for the enemy. The question is, will it also like the Tet Offensive be a propaganda disaster for the US, leading to a change of government and a significant defeat in the War? Maybe the crescendo will be in late October after all...

Q3: Criteria for success? In order of importance:
  1. Iraq having an economy as successful and a society as functional as West Germany's was in 1960, by 2018.
  2. No nuclear detonation using Iraqi components by 2060
  3. No biological attack using Iraqi components by 2060
  4. No successful chemical weapons strike using Iraqi components by 2060
  5. De-Baathification complete by 2005, including the eradication of Saddam and Sons (partially completed)
  6. A functional Democracy installed no later than 2007 (we're ahead of schedule on this one)
  7. No Civil War (the current situation doesn't qualify, but is worse than is acceptable)
The reason I put the cut-off date in 2060 is because no-one in 1945 could have foreseen what either Germany or Japan would look like in 2002.

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