My feelings on what the right course of action in Iraq at this point is are pretty inconclusive, but this paragraph from Jonathan Schell (The Nation, 5-24-2004) is as close to hitting it on the head as anything I've seen recently. He is reacting to the argument that even if the war was wrong, we have a duty to stay there and clean up the mess we made. He is reacting to what seems to be the dominant Democratic (Kerry) position.
The argument is an irritating one for those of us who opposed the war, suggesting, as it does, that we must now sign up for the project ("stay the course") because the very mistake we warned against was made. But the problems are more serious than annoyance. Of course, no one wants to see anarchy or repression in Iraq or any other country. But what can it mean to say that failure is not an option? Has the decision to go to war exhausted our powers of thought and will? Must we surrender now to fate? "Failure" is in truth never an "option". The exercise of an option is a voluntary act; but failure is forced on you by events. It is what happens when your options run out. To rule out failure is not a policy but a wish---and a wish, indeed, for omnipotence. Yet no one, not even the world's sole superpower, is omnipotent. To imagine otherwise is to set yourself up for a fall even bigger than the failure you imagine you are ruling out.
So, I think I am for leaving. Continuing to offer humanitarian assistance to whatever government manages to be in power. But no connection with any military presence. It feels good to want to ensure the security of a newly free people. However, we have failed at this, and we continue to fail, and our continued failure can only be inspiring to whatever terrorists there are. And our failure involves people being murdered every day.
I don't support a UN security force either. I don't think it will fare any better than the US did. And, I believe Bush's agenda would actually be well-served by the UN taking over. We have set them up for failure. They would fail, and Bush would use that as evidence for his position that they are inadequate.
Add to reading list:
Evil: An Investigation by Lance Morrow. "Each age and place has its own style of evil."