Damned If You Do...
Indeed, from the oscillating analyses of Iraq, the following impossible picture often emerges from our intelligentsia. It was a fatal error to disband the Iraqi army. That led to lawlessness and a loss of confidence in the American ability to restore immediate order after Saddam's fall. Yet it was also a fatal error to keep some Baathists in the newly constituted army. They were corrupt and wished reform to fail — witness the Fallujah Brigade that either betrayed us or aided the enemy. So we turned off the Sunnis by disbanding the army — and yet somehow turned off the Shiites by keeping some parts of it.I'm one of those who gets criticized for continuing to think the war is going well and that we have done a good thing in the face of all the evidence that we're "clearly" in trouble. This is part of the reason. When opponents so determinedly take a self-contradictory tack in order to criticize, I stop listening to any of them because I know they have no new information to impart to me, despite their latest data point. The litany tells me far more about them than it does about Iraq.
Massive construction projects were hogged by gargantuan American firms, ensconced in the Green Zone that did not engage either local Iraqi workers or small companies and thus squandered precious good will. Or, indigenous contractors proved irresponsible and unreliable, evidence for why Iraq was in such bad shape to begin with. And when we did put exclusive reliance on them, it ensured only lackadaisical and half-hearted reconstruction.
We also lost hearts and minds by using GPS bombs to obliterate houses full of killers and take out blocks of insurgents. And yet we lost hearts and minds by failing to act decisively and de facto turning over large enclaves to terrorists and Saddamites whom we were afraid to root out. Elections should have been held earlier; no, they must be delayed since they come too soon when the country is still unsecured.
Naturally, the same charge applies to me too. So be it. I will continue to view the Iraq conflict as a great and generous enterprise undertaken by American heroes and our stalwart allies until history itself show me wrong. Until that day, though, I shall have little patience for those so determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.