Thursday, January 11, 2007
An article -- and its editorial slant -- in the New York Times about the President's proposed troop increases for Iraq illustrates perfectly a point articulated recently by Burgess Laughlin in a letter to the editor of The Objective Standard:
One shouldn't be surprised that an entity's actions follow from the entity's nature. As a political entity, the USA is a welfare state. ...Case in point: Our declared objective in deposing Saddam Hussein was not national security (i.e., the protection of the individual rights of American citizens from a foreign threat), but the ability of Iraqis to choose their own government (regardless of whether said government would protect individual rights or respect those of Americans).
Just as the welfare bureaucracy of the USA endlessly drains the resources of productive citizens, all in the name of altruism, so the "War on Terrorism" is endlessly draining the resources (and lives) of the USA, all in the name of altruism.
As a result of this immoral and impractical objective, we now have an Islamic government in Iraq (which the Times unabashedly calls "Shiite"). In the sense that our efforts to defeat Islamic terrorism are being systematically hamstrung by our obeisance to an Islamic government in the name of "democracy", the Times is right on the money in calling the mess "Mr. Bush's war". However, when offering an alternative to Bush's troop buildup, the Times, hides its own complicity in the mess partly behind the following recommendation.
We have argued that the United States has a moral obligation to stay in Iraq as long as there is a chance to mitigate the damage that a quick withdrawal might cause. We have called for an effort to secure Baghdad, but as part of the sort of comprehensive political solution utterly lacking in Mr. Bush's speech. This war has reached the point that merely prolonging it could make a bad ending even worse. Without a real plan to bring it to a close, there is no point in talking about jobs programs and military offensives. There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq.Notice that our government, by the lights of the Times, has a "moral obligation" to Iraq -- but not to our own security. In any war, including the one of which the conflict in Iraq is but a part, the two basic options are to fight or to surrender. In the context of Iraq, where we find ourselves now whether one agrees or disagrees we should have gone there in the first place, there are several viable options that would constitute continuing to fight the broader war -- even including a withdrawal from all or parts of Iraq premised on the notion that our forces could be better used elsewhere.
But this never comes up. Indeed, the Times even seems against the idea of shifting our focus to the more pressing problems of Iran and Syria. "What [the nation] certainly did not need were more of Mr. Bush's open-ended threats to Iran and Syria." Note the description: "open-ended" vice "empty". It has been the emptiness of the threats -- not the threats themselves -- the West in general and America in particular have made against Iran that have emboldened it to: sponsor terrorism, make numerous declarations of its intent to wipe out Israel, and develop nuclear weapons.
All the leftist media (exemplified here by the Times) does is note how injurious war is to America -- as if war is normally a walk in the park -- while failing to mention that it can have a more noble and practical purpose than the deliverance of an entire nation from a secular dictatorship to, ultimately, an Islamic one.
The false alternative put forth by the Times -- of needless sacrifice of American blood and treasure versus surrender -- shows that the Times, despite its carping, fully agrees with the President's stated objective in the war! We see this clearly when we go back to its story on the proposed increase in troops. Its title? "Promising Troops Where They Aren't Really Wanted":
As President Bush challenges public opinion at home by committing more American troops, he is confronted by a paradox: an Iraqi government that does not really want them.The article's main focus is on the fact that the Iraqis -- or at least the ruling Shiites with militias to protect in Sadr City -- do not want American troops in Iraq. It claims that America's best way out of Iraq is through "drawing the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds together" (whatever that means) as if we should be there to protect Iraq's ethnic minorities from each other rather than American citizens from Islamofascist belligerence. At the same time, the article implicitly criticizes the United States both for not protecting (1) the Sunnis well-enough from the Shiites and (2) the sovereignity of the Shiite government from ... the United States.
Redha Jawad Tahi, another Shiite member of Parliament from Mr. Hakim's party, took a similar view. "You can't solve the problem by adding more troops," he said. "The security should be in the hands of the Iraqis. The U.S. should be in a supporting role."
The plan sketched out by Mr. Bush went at least part way to meeting these Shiite concerns by ceding greater operational authority over the war in Baghdad to the government. The plan envisages an Iraqi commander with overall control of the new security crackdown in Baghdad, and Iraqi officers working under him who would be in charge of military operations in nine newly demarcated districts in the capital.
The commanders would report to a new office of commander in chief directly under the authority of Mr. Maliki. The arrangement appeared to have the advantage, for Mr. Maliki, of giving him a means to circumvent the Ministry of Defense, which operates under close American supervision. "The U.S. agrees that the government must take command," Mr. Abadi said.
The arrangements appeared to suggest that Mr. Maliki would have the power to halt any push into Sadr City, the Mahdi Army stronghold that American commanders have been saying for months will have to be swept of extremist militia elements if there is to be any lasting turn toward stability in Baghdad. ...
Hard-line Shiite politicians have been saying with growing vehemence that these American goals amount to an attempt to deprive them of the victory they won at the polls, and that instead of placating Sunni Arabs, a minority of about 20 percent in Iraq's population of 27 million, the United States should stand aside and "allow the minority to lose." For Americans, whose best road home lies in drawing the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds together, it amounts to a collision with the hard history of Iraq. [bold added]
Two things should be clear that when one sweeps aside the principle of individual rights in favor of the imaginary rights of ethnic groups: (1) There is no way to achieve actual peace. (2) There is plenty of guilt to be passed around when peace mysteriously fails to materialize from all the gunfire, smoke, and carnage -- provided someone is willing to accept it. (I have a feeling that the "Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds" aren't going to help us there.)
This article, although it does report the real story, it also buries it and evades its true significance: Bush's plan for increased troops in Iraq still represents a failure to protect American interests.
Prime Minister Maliki clearly has no interest in protecting the rights of all Iraqis -- as one could predict from the fact that he hails from a sectarian political party. President Bush, by continuing his fundamental error of not insisting on a separation of religion and state in Iraq, has not significantly altered his doomed course -- as one could predict from his own religious conservatism. And the New York Times busies itself by carping about it all (but for all the wrong reasons) -- as one could predict from its leftist devotion to the idea that the purpose of our government is to sacrifice the productive to the unproductive.
All are collectivists and all are therefore failing to advocate the one principle that could cut through the fog and guide American policy (and Iraqi policy too, for that matter) in Iraq: that the sole purpose of government is the protection of individual rights.
Clearly, the Times recognizes that our stated goals in Iraq are not achievable and revels in the fact rather than offering criticism from the premise that America's interests are not being served. Its only recommendation is to stop fighting. Either way, American interests are subordinated to the desires of the most powerful faction of thugs in Iraq. And when that happens, the Times, although an active accomplice, will have Bush as a scapegoat.
Whether Iraqis want more troops in Iraq is of precisely zero significance. Whether America will be protected better by such a move should be the only consideration.