Moral Purification

Wall Street Opinion Journal Josh Manchester November 14, 2006

Why intellectuals love defeat.

James Carroll, recently writing in the Boston Globe, wondered if America could finally accept defeat in Iraq, and be the better for it, comparing it to Vietnam:

But what about the moral question? For all of the anguish felt over the loss of American lives, can we acknowledge that there is something proper in the way that hubristic American power has been thwarted? Can we admit that the loss of honor will not come with how the war ends, because we lost our honor when we began it? This time, can we accept defeat?
To be frank, no. In Mr. Carroll’s fantasyland, the United States is deserving of defeat, and through some sort of mental gymnastics, that defeat is honorable, because it smacked of hubris to ever have fought in the first place.

I contend instead that the ultimate dishonor will be to leave hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of Iraqis to violent deaths; and that this is far too large a price to pay for Mr. Carroll to feel better.

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2 thoughts on “Moral Purification

  1. To be intellectually honest, those insisting that we stay in Iraq until we achieve “victory”, should also be calling for a resumption of the draft and deployment of at least 300,000 US servicemen to Iraq, the number originally suggested by the Pentagon and rejected by the Bush administration.

    Victory, assuming that means a stable, democratic Iraq, is not achievable given our current manpower and strategy. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations was recently interviewed by Dr Spiegel and this is what he said.

    SPIEGEL: Is Iraq still winnable for the United States?

    Haass: We’ve reached a point in Iraq where we’ve got to get real. And this is not going to be a near-term success for American foreign policy. The Iraq situation is not winnable in any meaningful sense of the word “winnable.” So what we need to do now is look for a way to limit the losses and costs, try to advance on other fronts in the region and try to limit the fallout of Iraq. That’s what you have to do sometimes when you’re a global power.

    “Iraq Is Not Winnable”

    But assuming he’s wrong, and all we need to do is send more troops, as Senators McCain and Leiberman are calling for, there is still the question of resource constraints. We are close to breaking the volunteer military. Many of our regular Army and Marine units have already done three tours, and some reseve units are scheduled to begin their second. The military is having problems with recruitment and reenlistment. We are drawing down stockpiles of ammunition and equipment at an alarming rate and cutting back on training.

    The only way to achieve “victory” right now is for the United States to go on a total war footing with a full draft and the elimination of all tax cuts so that we have the money to resupply our military. If we aren’t willing to do that we should redeploy our military people from Iraq to nearby countries, and find some other means to try and influence events in Iraq.

  2. Dean,

    I think there is some truth to what you are saying (more troops needed, etc.), but I look for a more innovative strategy, like partitioning, etc. Unfortunately, I think all we are going to get from the commission and dem’s is “strategic withdrawal” which means just leaving Iraq in the hands of Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria…

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