Friday, January 20, 2006

What If: No Iraq War?

In his recent Newhouse column, James Lileks asks what folks would say if we never invaded Iraq... and what would Saddam do in reaction to Iran's nuclear program? Probably one of these two:
"You guys go ahead, I'll stick with Russian artillery pieces. Besides, those things are more trouble than they're worth! The testing, the maintenance, the hiding -- it's like having six wives! No thanks. I'll sit here in my palace and smoke my cigar and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, thank you."

Or: Colorful Tikrit-specific profanity, hurled ashtrays, and a crash program that launders oil-for-food kickbacks into a secret weapons program facilitated by Libyan and North Korean assistance with information from the A.Q. Khan network, conducted under the indifferent eye of a world tired of pretending it cares about Iraq.
He has some fun wondering what to do now considering some folks don't like what we did in Iraq, but they seem committed to trying to find somekind of approach to Iran.
So what now? The Iranian situation has eerie overtones of the Iraq debate -- the gathering threat, the nuclear ambitions, the frowny faces of U.N. diplomats preparing the 13th Strongly Worded Document, complete with threatened revocation of parking garage privileges. But things are different now.

The American left believed in Iraq's WMDs and terrorist links in the '90s because that gave them much-needed hawk cred; it was Viagra for their dovish side. But they've spent the last two electoral cycles preaching defeat, insisting that when the Bush administration says something's a threat, it's a lie, a diversion tactic, an election ploy, a floorwax AND a dessert topping.
(That SNL bit was 30 years old on January 10th, by the way... still makes me laugh.)

Look, I'm not sure anyone (terrorists included) will take us seriously if we don't start making the same noises and going through (most of) the same motions we did at the end of '02 and beginning of '03. If we get shy now, surely the terrorist will become emboldened. (A stright line if I've ever seen one.)

Of course, some say we're spread a bit thin in terms of military resources and personel. Do we necessarily need to be ready to jump right now? No. We can start stepping up recruitment efforts even more. Maybe some more of our guys can come out of Iraq.

But wait, what if we do take troops out of Iraq... won't that embolden terrorists in and around Iraq? Hell yeah... I'd put a little money down on that. It probably wouldn't bring everything crumbling down, but it would be enough that the media would go nuts declaring Iraq a double-plus-quagmire.

You know, now would be a great time for:
1) The UN to actually step up to the plate and do something,
2) Individual countries (who claim to be our allies) to offer some serious help,
3) Our own political left (obviously not the strange folks on the fringe) to actually get behind this problem and start pushing forward.

I know... I have a Hell of a lot of praying to do.


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