While Matt Yglesias has already said much of what I am saying here, I feel the need to weigh in on the issue of the pro-warrior's reactions to the National Intelligence Estimate.
This article in National Review starts off resaonable. The first four paragraphs make a point that I very much agree with: the issue isn't "don't do anything that makes the jihadists angry." Rather, it is, "do the benefits outwiegh the costs?" Disempowering the Taliban sent a clear message: harbor someone who has attacked us, and we will go after you. It also helped us to scatter Al Qaeda's leadership. Even if it angered Muslims and caused people who previously were not in the jihad to join the jihad, there were clear benefits.
Interestingly enough, "the editors" (who wrote the piece) admit that we cannot be entirely indifferent to Arab public opinion, and then they say:
In the current war, we are fighting essentially a multi-faceted global jihadist insurgency, and it is self-defeating to create more anger toward us unless doing so also promises to produce countervailing long-term strategic benefits.
Now on to Iraq. There very next statement is that there are such benefits. And then the article derails.
If we prevail there, we will have destroyed a dictatorship supportive of terrorism and Arab radicalism and replaced it, we hope, with a government opposed to both of those things.
I think the key issue they are overlooking is the "IF." Whether or not there are benefits ot our presence in Iraq largely depend on whether or not success, defined I would think as the creation of a stable and not anti-American regime. (Not necessarily a pro-American one, it would be enough for it to be indifferent to us). AS was said in the Matt Yglesias article linked above, the Republicans seem to feel hat victory is inevitable if we stay for long enough, and that the Democrats know that and oppose staying because they oppose victory. That the Democrats, and anti-war conservatives like myself, do not see victory as a possible outcome, does not seem to register.
I was listening to the Mike Gallagher Show on the radio yesterday, and he was angry at the Daily Show for suggesting that Rumsfeld was naive to say that we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq. What is interesting is that he didn't even try to use facts to refute tje idea that we were not seen as liberators. I mean, he could have at least brought up the staged toppling of the Saddam statue. He simply asked, "how were we seen, then, huh?" (Uh, as conquerors, invaders, occupiers - we got rid of one bad guy, but then tried, more or less, to control the country, either by ourselves, or later through Iraqis whom we supported). Then he asked if that is how liberals see the U.S., "as a loser." No acknowledgement that things are going badly in Iraq. Just anger at anyone pointing out the fact.
Next, we are told that we are likely to win in Iraq because the Terrorists® are alienating the Iraqi people:
The extremists’ savagery toward innocents is a serious blow to their long-term goal of winning over Muslim hearts and minds.
This seems to assume that there is a group call "the extremists" ho are our main enemy in Iraq, and who are trying to win the Iraqis over. In reality, there are several groups, all with different agendas, who are unlikely to alienate their own constitutency, and whose alienation of other Iraqis is more likely to result in them forming their own extremist groups and commiting terrorism against the constituencies of the group that attacked them. This is called "civil war." I mean, if a Puerto Rican gang were terrorizing an urban black neighborhood with a large teenage population, would the likely result be more trust of the police, or forming a black gang to attack the Puerto Ricans?
If we succeed in creating a stable, democratic Iraqi state, it will be clear that the terrorists are opposed not so much to the “crusaders” and “occupiers” as to the legitimate aspirations of Muslims in the Middle East. This would be deeply problematic for them, as even Abu Zarqawi — not noted for his subtle thought — recognized.
But this will happen only if we win in Iraq.
Yeah, that's the problem. Unfortunately, instead of seeing this as a problem, "the editors" just see it as a reason we need to win in Iraq, with no consideration of the question of whether that is even possible.
Winning, however, is something Democrats rarely talk about.
Strangely wnough, it is also not something that the pro-war people ever really explain how to achieve.
That is all.