Monday, April 12, 2004[posted by jaed at 10:50 AM]
Someone asked me the other day, "You compared building democracy in Iraq to the US experience with Germany and Japan after WWII. How come it's not going like that?"
People have come up with a lot of reasons - both before and since the fall of Saddam - why Iraq would not be like Germany or Japan: level of previous exposure to democracy, degree of international legitimacy for the effort, presumed cultural incompatibility of Arabs with democratic polities. Some are more plausible than others, of course, but most of them are quite subtle.
But there's one reason no one talks about, that's about as subtle as a neon sign: the war isn't over.
Imagine if, during WWII, we had tried to occupy and reconstruct France before defeating Germany. Imagine Vichy collaboraters being funded by German money and smuggled German weapons. Imagine German special ops units coming across the border periodically and blowing people up. Imagine the press telling us that all this proves the French didn't want us or our "liberation" in the first place and we should give up and go home.
Now imagine ignoring all this and doggedly proceeding with rebuilding French infrastructure, hoping all the problems will Just Go Away. Folly, yes?
In Iraq, we've got Iran funding an uprising and, most likely, sending in commandos under cover of the pilgrimage. In Fallujah, we've got a lot of old-line Saddam collaborators, and possibly Syria funding and providing military fighters, via Hamas. We've had Saudi-funded terrorists coming across the borders all this time. (Ask the Iraqis - they know Arab from Arab, and they know the people coming in to blow up Iraqis aren't Iraqi.) And we wonder why there are problems in Iraq?
There are problems because the war is still going on; winning one campaign does not conclude a war, and (media and politician nitwits insisting on locutions like "the Iraq War" notwithstanding) we ought to know better than to think it does. To whatever extent we succeed in Iraq, it becomes an ally in this war - and to whatever extent it becomes an ally, it becomes a target for the enemy.