Friday, November 05, 2004

WHAT'S YOUR METRIC FOR FAILURE?

It appears to be an article of faith in many circles that the invasion of Iraq has been a "failure" (just do a Google search of Iraq + failure and you'll see what I mean). If I were in charge, I don't think I would have pushed so aggressively to invade Iraq. But now that the invasion has taken place, I have often wondered what people mean when they declare the invasion to have failed. What, to borrow a Rumsfeldism, is the metric one uses in differentiating between success and failure of a military operation and/or post-military operation occupation? If Iraq is a failure, what constitutes "success?" What are some historical examples of a success? I'm not sure if I have a clear idea of how I would answer this question. But I'm sure there are those with more intelligence and experience that will be able to help me out here.

Comments:
Francis Fukayama has some fitting thoughts:

From: "The Neoconservative Moment" by Fracis Fukayama

"But possibility is not lileligood, and good policy is not made by staking everything on a throw of the dice. Culture is not destiny, but culture plays an important role in making ceratin kinds of institutions - something that is usually taken to be a conservative insight. Though I, more than most people, am associated with the idea that history's arrow points to democracy, I have never believed that democracies can be created anywhere and everywhere through sheer political will. Prior to the Iraq War, there were many reasons for thinking that building a democratic Iraq was a task of a complexity that wold be nearly unmanageable. Some reasons had to do with the nature of Iraqi society: the fact that it would be decompressing rapidly from totalitarianism, its ethnic divisions, the role of politicized religion, the society's propensity for violence, its tribal structure and the dominance of extended kin and patronage networks, and its susceptibility to influence from other parts of the Middle East that were passionately anti-American.

But other reasons had to do with the United States. America has been involved in approximately 18 nation-building projects betweet its conquest of the Philippines in 1899 and the current occupations of Afghanistan and Ira, and the overall record is not a pretty one. The cases of unambiguous success - Germany, Japan, and South Korea - were all ones in which U.S. forces came and then stayed indefinitely. In the first two cases, we were not nation-building at all, but only re-legitimizing societies that had very powerful states. In all of the other cases, the U.S. either left nothing behind in terms of self-sustaining institutions, or else made things worse by creating, as in the case of Nicaragua, a modern army and policy but no lasting rule of law." (in the original document the text was not italiced)

So what constitutes success? Well apparently our efforts in Germany, Japan, and South Korea (according to Fukayama). Beyond those three cases, I cannot name any others. And extrapolating from the historical record, I cannot foresee the current or near future situation in Iraq sustaining any type of long term stability. But who knows?
 
"What consitutes 'sucess'?"

Well, the 'invasion' of Iraq is a grand example of failure. First, invading a country on false premises, and then ignoring that fact, really needs no further explanation of the action being a failure. Second, more casualties accuring after the declaration of: "Mission accomplished". Third, no plan on how to create stability and subsequently no exit plan.... I could list a lot more but, that is probably enough to chew on for now. But, I guess on the flip side. If you are a stock holder for Haliburtan or Dick Cheney, it was a complete success.....
 
Scott from the Party Pooper here.

Why don't you, as a Republican, tell us what has to happen (or not happen) to make the invasion a failure?

It wasn't long ago when every Bush follower I ever talked to was so sure that WMDs were being manufactured in Iraq and we had to go in there and disarm Saddam. That didn't pan out, and frankly, America's reputation took a pretty damn big hit because of it.

So now you've all shifted your talk to liberation and democracy, but that isn't going so smoothly either (though to be honest, despite my dislike of Bush, I really wish it would).

So be honest and tell us: in what circumstances (with a clear time frame) would you begin to doubt the wisdom of the invasion? Politics isn't religion, you know. I'm not asking you to blaspheme against God and Jesus by considering the fact that Bush might have messed up. I don't mean to be insulting, but I'm find it very frustrating that otherwise intelligent people cannot even admit that they COULD be wrong.

As a "liberal," I'll be fair and start: If within the next 4 years Iraq is clearly on its way to becoming a stable democracy (no "friendly dicatorships") and the US has less troops in Iraq and is spending significantly less money on Iraq than it is now, I'll admit I was wrong and Bush did the right thing. I'll be pretty damn happy to do it, actually. I take absolutely zero joy in dead US soldiers and our swelling deficit. I'll post a big picture of Bush on my site and say, that at least in this case, I and others like me were in the wrong and Bush made the right call.

Your turn if you're willing and able...
 
Why do we wonder what we, people not actually involved in this 'process,' think?

I think better words can be said by the Iraqis themselves...

For example:

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

or

http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/

Sniff around...it's amazing what you can find. Good, and bad.
 
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