Email of the Day

A reader writes:

Regarding your comments about Lawrence Kaplan's comments. With respect, you're dreaming.  A million men wouldn't have done the trick.  You can't shake and bake democracy and rule of law, and mutual toleration into many places in the world, particularly into Iraq.

Social engineering doesn't work in Newark, New Jersey.  And presumably we have insight into that culture and speak the language.

This effort was doomed from the start, it was a folly from the beginning, Rumsfeld's so-called incompetence (I call it wishful thinking) notwithstanding. The dilemma of course is we're stuck. We can't leave because what would result from our departure would be worse still given the mess we've made there.

Joe Biden had it about right in the summer of 2002 when he said it would take 10 years at a minimum to deal with the aftermath of toppling Saddam's regime. After I heard that I knew it was hopelessly unrealistic to try and re-shape a society about which we only know the broadest outlines.  How many Americans and Brits speak Arabic?  200, 500, 1,000 maybe?  We're lost in that place, we have no connections, no way of really knowing what's going on, and no clue as to how to appeal to the warring factions and how to build a semblance of trust among them.

The original sin remains naively advocating the neo-conservative cause.  Real conservatives understand limits and proportion.

I was prepared for a ten year battle for democracy in Iraq. I naively believed that the Bush administration was sincere about long-term nation-building, and deadly serious about a task as immense as the evil that provoked it. I also under-estimated the sheer toll of Saddam's totalitarian legacy on Iraq's civil society. Wrong, in retrospect, on both counts. Stupidly, maddeningly wrong. Does that mean we should now abandon the place? I still cannot believe that is the wisest option.