Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Lawrence Kaplan makes the moral argument to stay in Iraq a while longer yet.
With militiamen loose in their streets, even the Sunni residents of insurgent strongholds now look to the Americans as their protectors. During a recent U.S. operation in Baghdad's Amiriyah neighborhood, terrified Iraqis emerged into alleys to beg for the Americans to stay. As one put it, "If you leave, every people here will kill each other." Fully 88 percent of its residents claim to feel safest in the presence of the Americans, and for good reason: Far from the reactionary enterprise imagined by so many Americans, the U.S. military is the most progressive force in Iraq.

...Withdrawal advocates who wear the position on their sleeves as if it were a badge of heightened moral awareness seem to forget that, as theologian Kenneth Himes wrote in Foreign Policy, "The moral imperative during the occupation is Iraqi well-being, not American interests." Having invoked just-war tradition to oppose the war's cause, they completely disregard its relevance to the war's conduct--namely, the obligation to repair what the United States has smashed. The particulars of that tradition mean leaving Iraq with something better--or, at least, not worse--than what went before. That does not mean staying in Iraq forever. It does mean staying until Iraqis have the means to restrain the forces unleashed by our own actions.

I agree with Kaplan's argument, but oh, how my patience is tried when I read things like a tale of thousands of Iraqi residents unwilling to stand up to a dozen militants. This is why I've talked up partition in the past, even though it would mean great hardship for mixed cities like Baghdad. We can't wait forever (think January 2009) for Shia and Sunni Iraqis to live in harmony, especially when there are plenty of reasons to think they never will.


Blogger Kent said...

I dunno. Partitioning British India between the Muslims and Hinus hasn't always worked out so well.

9/14/2006 8:49 AM  

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