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Saturday, November 25, 2006

 

Capacity for Violence?

As we are all very aware, the war in Iraq continues to wage and continues to waste millions of tax dollars everyday. The war consumes countless news reports, conversations, and articles in the paper to the point where nobody even cares to hear about it. I'm not trying to say that US involvement in the war isn't important, because it has had a huge impact on millions of families and lives all around the world, but why is this continuing to be another Vietnam? Back when 9/11 happened the US ran into Iraq with guns blazing and the intent to disband Al-Qaeda and capture Osama Bin Laden who seemed to have become the Hitler of the 21st century. Well as we all know, US forces never found Osama and it seemed that the search was futile.

So, in an effort to keep the war effort back home strong and public opinion favorable, Bush turned to Operation Iraqi Freedom whose plan was to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support of terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people. Almost three years later it would seem on the surface that the US has reached those goals, except for the one forgotten detail that now seems to television and newspaper reports alike: How are we going to exit Iraq without it all falling to pieces?

Olson brings uo a good point in The Rise and Decline of Nations about how the country with the largest capacity for violence is often the one who comes out on top. Now we all know that the US has quite a large capacity for violence. We've witnessed it on several occasions and the coercive effect that it can have on nations. After all it did end WWII. So why does the US remain in this limbo regarding the situation in Iraq? Why do we continually let these radical Islamist followers taunt our forces with suicide bombings and shootings all over Iraq? I believe that it is partly due to fear. I think that the administration may be afraid of the repercussions of using our full capacity for violence. If we did go full force into Iraq and begin to fight like we did in the begginning of the invasion, who knows what that could laed to. It could lead to an all out blood bath in the Middle East with all the terrorist supporting nations rallying together against the US. And who knows what the consequences of that level of war could be.

The situation in Iraq is somewhat of a catch-22. If we go in with guns blazing it could lead to some horrible Middle Eastern war that could cause irreperable damage, or we can continue to do nothing and conceed to defeat and exit Iraq with the almost certainty that the newly established democracy will collapse and some autocrat that is more of a threat that Hussein will move in and take over. It almost seems at this point that our decision is not what's going to give us a victory but what is going to be the better way to loose. I agree that the war is getting old and isn't going anywhere, but we need to remember back to when this all started. When 9/11 happened, there was an overwhelming majority of the population who wanted to see something done and this overwhemling majority continued to support Bush until the capture of Hussein. So you see Bush was caught between a rock and a hard place as well, and it seems that we the American people have now put ourselves in this precarious situation by once again letting our emotions take control.

If the US has no intentions of using our capacity for violence and continuing to let the radicals step all over us, then we need to conceed to a loss and pull out. I don't think that pulling all the troops out all at once is a great idea. The new Iraqi army needs to learn how to stand and fight on its own without the US as a crutch. If the Iraqi people can band together and fight to keep their new democracy, then it may have a fighting chance. But such sceanerio only exists in a perfect world. Given the culture and the thousands of years of conflict between the religons and cultures in that area it seems that barring a dramatic cultural change, that the Middle East is doomed to autocracy. As horrible as it is to say, a strong autocrat with a large capacity for violence is the only way to keep any sort of order in a region that is constantly at war. Saddam may have found the only type of government that will work.

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