Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Stupidity Redefined in Iraq

The Iraq war has to be one of the most pointless wars in recent history. Perhaps the closest parallel in American history is the war of 1812, in which the United States declared war on Britain over a blockade controversy which had already been resolved. The nations fought pointlessly for two years, including such lowlights of U.S. history as a failed attempt to invade Canada and the humiliating sack of Washington D.C. by the British. Similarly, the Iraq war has been waged over a non-existent threat (when we found out there were no WMD, shouldn't we have just declared victory and gone home?) and against a Sunni insurgency which on the surface would seem to be of no relevance to any U.S. strategic or political goals whatsoever. Why are we fighting this random Iraqi tribe? Two reasons are given, neither of which makes sense. The first is that we must defeat the insurgents before we can leave Iraq. Wait a second. The insurgents claim that their only goal is to get us to leave Iraq. Why don't we just end the war by leaving now? Why is it important that we "defeat" the insurgents before we do what they want us to do? The second reason is that the Sunni insurgents are fighting to maintain political and economic control of Iraq against their more numerous Shiite and Kurdish rivals. But why should we side with the Shiites? It is a purely arbitrary fact that the majoritarian government we're trying to establish in Iraq would favor the Shiites - hence, their relative cooperation with the American-sponsored political process, and the Sunni's militant rejection of it. But America has nothing to gain by aiding the Sunnis, which would only increase Iranian influence in Iraq. If anything, from a purely strategic perspective we should have backed the secular Baath party against its more radically Islamist opponents. There simply aren't any compelling political or military reasons for us to be fighting this war, any more then there would be if we had decided to invade Kyrgzstan, inflame political and ethnic tensions, and then pick a random side to fight on. The positive side of this is that there is no real reason why we cannot begin withdrawing from Iraq today. The conflicts now existing would be far better addressed by a United Nations peacekeeping force, or even by Iraqis themselves who would be free to have an honest war for their country's future untainted by charges of imperialism. Since there was never a real mission for the U.S. in Iraq, nothing will be compromised by our departure.

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