Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ladies and gentlemen, we have passed the point of diminishing returns

Richard Clarke has a thoughtful, evenhanded piece in USA Today about exiting from Iraq.

But this assertion by Clarke confounds:
Even if we still disagree about whether it was worth the costs, the war has brought Saddam Hussein to justice for crimes against humanity; has removed any possibility of an Iraqi military threat in the region, including with weapons of mass destruction; and has given Iraqis a chance to create a non-totalitarian government, hold elections and adopt a constitution enshrining human rights.
Yes, Saddam is being brought to justice for crimes against humanity. But bringing Saddam to justice was never a legitimate reason for launching a preventive war. His capture was just the Green Stamps that came with the purchase price of the war.

As for the other "achievements" — well, there are no guarantees.

I don't understand Clarke's claim that the war "has removed any possibility of an Iraqi military threat in the region, including weapons of mass destruction."

Realistically, the threat removal is not guaranteed in perpetuity. In order to survive, Iraq will be re-militarized and re-armed. Any country with arms and military forces is a potential threat to somebody.

And yes, Iraqis have been given a chance to create a non-totalitarian government, but there's no guarantee that they will eventually have a non-totalitarian government.

And yes, Iraqis have been given a chance to adopt a constitution enshrining human rights, but there's no guarantee that the new Iraqi government will actually respect human rights.

The US long ago completed the stated and only achievable objective of the Iraq war: the securing of Iraqi WMDs. Of course, that was by default because — well, you know why.

The United States has passed the point of diminishing returns in Iraq, and we have to accept the fact there are no guarantees that any of the newly "enshrined" Western-style democratic ideals will last any longer than it takes for the last US soldier out of the country to shake the grit from his combat boots.

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