Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lessons Learned?

The end of World War I left Germany in a terrible position: socially despised, economically wounded, and politically in turmoil. The “guilt thesis” blamed Germany for the war and punished it in the 1919 Versailles Treaty. Nationalism and a sense of international rejection led to increased support for fascism and Nazism; the level of support being proportional to the level of post-war distress. An ideology of superiority and entitlement swept the country, along with feelings of hatred and resentment for the nations it blamed for its situation.

Now in Iraq we are poised to start withdrawing troops and shifting those who remain into the roles of overseers. And what will we leave behind? In my opinion, a nation which bears too much similarity to 1919 Germany.

We add troops, and we fail. We remove troops (possibly another 50,000 by July 2008, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates), and we will probably fail. So where’s the punch line? At any moment now, Gates and Gen. Patraeus are going to pop out from behind a curtain with streamers and those New Years Eve poppers and say “Gotcha!” and then tell us the real strategy, right?

Or maybe there is a much more somber final note to the fiasco that is Iraq: maybe it isn’t winnable. We have no viable strategy; waning support from politicians; waning support from the public; enormous debt; soldiers paying the price…

But it’s not too late to learn from our enemies. If they can become “emboldened” and “more entrenched” through our departure, why can’t we? After all, there was nothing in this world more dangerous than a New Yorker on September 12, 2001. Maybe through defeat in Iraq, we can become more motivated and less partisan, and actually effect positive change on our own soil to protect our citizens.


C. P. Coleta said...

It's a naive concept to think that great things will emerge in a collapsed Iraq policy. You, nor any "defeatist", have not addressed the glaring question: What of the consequences? Genocide/ Ethnic-cleansing? Regional war for the spoils? our Allies' stability? There's a lot more at stake here than domestic political considerations, and very few people have adequately explained how America, the biggest arbiter of any issue in The Region, could maintain its influence and position in a defeat.

Kris said...

I do not consider myself a "defeatist". And I do not deny the glaring question of grave consequences remains largely untouched. I have no suggestions, I will admit, but I know that on my list of priorities my country's well-being falls just in front of that of the world at large. Obviously everything is linked, and trying to clearly separate the two in matters of foreign policy is not only impossible but also negligent.

At any rate, I think you missed the point of my post. I would classify my stance on withdrawal as opposed - I, like many, just feel really desperate with our military failures and want better strategy. My closing comment was really more lemons and lemonade inspired than "defeatist". I also do not like the use labels as I feel they limit the exchange of ideas from people as individuals.