alien & sedition.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
  Iraq: Whose Failure of Will?

Subbing for Andrew Sullivan, Hilzoy reposts a fantastic essay examining the common right-wing trope that victory in Iraq is primarily a matter of will -- and its corollary, which is that those who oppose the endless prolongation of the war are a "party of defeat," since they sap the nation's will to victory.

Hilzoy asks:
[W]hose will and resolve failed us in the war in Iraq? And to the extent that any sort of success in iraq was possible, whose feckless irresolution and lack of full commitment should we blame for our failure?
And these seem to me like critical questions. At the heart of it is the simple proposition that "if you really want something, you will not make fundamental or careless mistakes about it." By this measure, it seems incontrovertible that the Bush administration has never really cared about "victory" in Iraq. The administration, from the beginning, refused to plan for the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, relying instead on careless faith in its own platitudes.

Says Hilzoy:
But none of the people who led us into war could possibly have really cared about succeeding in Iraq. If they had, they could not have made the mistakes they did. And so, led by these feckless and irresponsible people, who were not nearly afraid enough of "defeat, nor dishonor, nor an Iraq under the terrorist heel," we invaded Iraq. Their failure of will predictably led to the present catastrophe. The consequences of our defeat will be disastrous, most of all for the Iraqi people, but it is not at all clear that those consequences can now be prevented. We have made too many mistakes, and while they could easily have been avoided had anyone cared enough to do it right, no one did. And they cannot be undone.
The wider failure of will, Hilzoy argues, was by the American people in general, who, swayed by muddy trivia like the details of John Kerry's purple hearts and whether or not the Democratic challenger had changed certain of his positions, cast their votes for the tough-talking Bush, despite ample evidence that Bush's management of the war -- tough talk and all -- was diastrously incompetent. By this measure, it could be said that the American people, in voting for Bush, demonstrated their lack of seriousness about "victory" in Iraq.

National elections are complex things, and it's their nature to turn on all kinds of issues and ephemera, much of which seems distressingly trivial, especially in retrospect. I like Hilzoy's argument slightly better when it's focused on the cult of Very Serious People in both the Beltway and conservative movement establishments:
The party of Josh Trevino [et al] has had complete control over the war in Iraq. Given the feckless and criminally irresponsible way this administration has conducted that war, as well as the complete irresponsibility of supporting Bush's reelection when his incompetence in Iraq was clear, I think it's a bit much for them to be lecturing the American people on their lack of resolve now.
They were the ones who led the discussion, who framed, and continue to frame, the constant enabling of the Bush crowd as the only route to victory. They're the ones with access to the information that contradicts such nonsense. They're the ones who are to blame for defeat in Iraq.

But enough of me -- read Hilzoy's post in its entirety. It's really very good.

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Critical analysis of the American conservative movement from a progressive perspective. Also some stuff about the Mets.

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