|I think that Anthony is missing an important distinction. I am indeed angry that we were sent to war over WMD that evidently weren't there. George Tenet certainly did not deserve a medal of freedom for having supplied bad intelligence. The Attorney General should not have tried unilaterally to suspect the writ of habeas corpus, in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution. We could make a long list of mistakes, errors, and flagrant disregard for justice, morality, and legality. They do indeed make me angry and they should be addressed by constitutional and legal means. The Supreme Court has already slapped the Administration quite hard over the issue of habeas corpus, in a case in which the Cato Institute was deeply involved. (More legal action will still be needed, but the Ashcroft doctrine on designating people as "enemy combatants" and then dropping them into a hole has been repudiated.) Legal prosecution is appropriate for those who stepped way over the line and abused and tormented prisoners. |
None of the above induces me to offer toasts to the killing of U.S. soldiers. They do not make me write in glowing terms about "the Iraqi resistance," a determined group of killers which is, I can assure you, organized by the nastiest, most evil, vicious characters I hope you never have the opportunity to meet. They do not lead me to mock the death of Pat Tillman by friendly fire in Afghanistan. They do not lead me to malign Iraqi police recruits, people who, for the most part, should be admired for their courage, not called "quislings" and "traitors." (Justin Raimondo now denies that his use of such language evinced any desire that they should be killed, but he has also written that his description must have been accurate, since (I cannot locate the link at the moment, so this is a close paraphrase) "the Iraqis sure are killing a lot of them [police recruits]."
As to the issue of whether withdrawal should be immediate or not, the issue is not as clear cut as Anthony suggests. The argument against going to war is not the same argument as the one for immediate withdrawal; it does not follow that if you were against the war, you should have to be for immediate withdrawal, for the reason that the situation has been changed by the decision to go to war. The consequences of a pell-mell rush for the exits (of the sort that Raimondo seems to prefer, not even a retreat, but a rout) would be a civil war that would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions of people. It would mean the emergence of a "failed state" on the lines of Afghanistan prior to the Karzai government, with warlordism and a proliferation of terrorist training camps. Now that there has been an election and a government will probably be formed soon, we can begin to think about withdrawal without such consequences. (No, I do not have a detailed timetable in my pocket.) The U.S. government is obligated not to create a condition of detrimental reliance by millions of people and then simply pull the rug out from under them, dooming them to mass execution, as the jihadis and Ba'athists would surely carry out. We have an obligation to help them to build a constitutional state that is tolerable to us (i.e., neither a threat nor a safe harbor for al Qaeda) and at least much better than what they had before.
I will be going to Iraq soon to meet with members of the Iraqi National Assembly to discuss the process of forming a constitutional order, agreeing on principles by which all sects and ethnicities can live together peacefully, creating an independent judiciary, and the like (which has loaded my plate with histories of constitutionalism in north America, Europe, and elsewhere). I also intend to travel around the country to meet with classical liberal Iraqis (or those favorable to such ideas) to promote the translation of texts, establish independent teaching centers for liberal ideas, and so forth. I will do that because it is good for my friends in America, but more importantly because it is good for the Iraqis, because they deserve to live in freedom, and because the war has created an instability that, were the Coalition forces to be withdrawn tomorrow, would without any question result in terrible massacres. Anthony, if you were president and could order the pullout of U.S. forces today, knowing that many hundreds of thousands of people would be killed in a civil war because the police, army, judiciary, and other institutions of government could not contain the fascists (Ba'athists) and Jihadis, would you do it? If you are against war, but such a decision would lead to more killing, not less, with the outcome probably being more threatening to us in the long run, anyway, would you do it in the name of being against war? Or would you help the Iraqi government to get on its feet and then withdraw, in the knowledge that you would not be unleashing a horrifying civil war and that it would make yet another war less likely in the future?