The Right Coast

April 08, 2004
By Mike Rappaport

The recent fighting in Iraq is obviously extremely important. While it has already led to tremendous hand-wringing by critics of the war, it is not necessarily a sign either of problems in the prospects for Iraqi nation-building or that the US has done anything wrong. It may simply be an expected and necessary part of the process of establishing a constitutional regime.

First, the uprising does not imply the US has been doing anything wrong. Sure, the US could have had more troops and could have been more aggressive in rooting out these fanatics, but that would have had serious costs. In particular, if the US were too heavy-handed, that might have led to additional opposition to it. Part of what we are trying to do is to create an environment of freedom, and arresting militia members who were then not currently attacking the US, was not necessarily the best way of creating that environment.

Second, this uprising may give the US an opportunity to defeat those within Iraq who oppose the establishment of a constitutional order. So long as the United States stands firm, and certainly Secretary Rumsfeld has strongly indicated that we will, the US can win this fight, kill these opponents of democracy, and in doing so more securely establish the grounding for the next step towards a constitutional order.

The worst possible response would be to withdraw from Iraq. While some argue in favor of this -- such as Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia -- it is hard to avoid the conclusion that they are either "knaves or fools." Not only would withdrawing weaken the US on the world stage, inviting terrorist attacks against us all over the world, but it could have disastrous consequences in the Middle East. It could allow Iran to establish and control a radical Islamic state in Iraq, or to the Iraqi Kurds joining with the Turkish Kurds to destabilize Turkey.

For similar views to those expressed here, see Steve Don Beste.