Wednesday, October 11, 2006


One of the most offensive conservative memes regarding Iraq is the excuse that our noble efforts to liberate that country were thwarted by "Arabs being Arabs". Ralph Peters demonstrates:
Well, you face the future with the Iraq you've got, not the Iraq you'd like to have. We owe the Iraqis one last chance, and it's up to them to take it.

But no more U.S. troops. Make the Iraqis fight for their own country. If they won't, we need to accept that a noble endeavor failed.

People get the government they earn. Those of us who believed that the situation in the Middle East required desperate measures may have to accept that the cynics were right when they insisted that Arabs can't govern themselves democratically. What if it doesn't take a village? What if it takes a Saddam?

If Iraq does fail, the cold truth is that the United States will do fine. We'll honor our dead, salve the wounds to our vanity and march on stronger than ever (with the world's most powerful and most experienced military). But the Middle East will have revealed itself as hopeless.

Ho hum. Tomorrow is another day. This show's no good, what else is on? This killing field we've created is harshing my glorious patriotic nationalistic flag-humping reverie.

The cynics indeed. The people who have argued that the Arabs can't govern themselves democratically, and thus desperate measures were required, are among those who supported this war. This may be a favorite strawman of President Bush, one which helps him avoid having to address substantive criticisms of his conduct, or the fact of his own incompetence, but I have yet to read one liberal critic who opposed the war on the grounds that Arabs can't govern themselves democratically. They argued that democratic governance would not result from Bush's invasion, and they were right.

While the "Arabs being Arabs" excuse is at least helpful in that it exposes the latent bigotry which resides at American conservatism's grinchy little heart, let's get this straight: The blame for the Iraq debacle is first and foremost on the people who took us there, the people who saw the intelligence and said that what wasn't there was there, who lied and claimed they knew where the weapons were when they didn't, who planned the invasion and vehemently refused to plan for after the invasion, and who haven't told us the truth since the moment they decided to invade. Blaming the people whose lives have been upended by the invasion is more than wrong, it's perverse.

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