Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald on why the media’s most commonly-used word for the American presence in Iraq is misapplied:
I would never use the word “quagmire” about the American effort in Iraq. Iraq is not Vietnam; there is no quagmire, and many important things have been achieved. To wit: the disruption of major weapons programs, the destruction of major weaponry, the uncovering of networks of people who received money and oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein (the whole oil-for-food business). The Americans have, heroically, done fantastic things. Thousands of schools repaired (but what will be taught in those schools once the Americans leave?), a hundred hospitals refurbished, oil pipelines and oil fields constantly being repaired, power grids, etc.
That this has received almost no attention in the world press, when it ought to be the constant subject on the nightly news everywhere, says a lot about the distortions in the press. That the Civil Affairs soldiers have to work as hard as they can merely to convince some American journalist to please, please just tell a little about what we are doing, is a scandal. The American press has not distinguished itself, and the soldiers have a right to be resentful (if they are).
A misallocation of resources is quite different from a “quagmire.” We can stay, and do all sorts of things. But then we will not be able to do all sorts of other things. And those other things need to be done. The other day a major weapons project — a plane — was cancelled for lack of money. If tomorrow the Chinese began to do something with Taiwan, could American forces handle it? Not everything can be done. How does improving lives in Iraq make it more likely that Iraq will be less Muslim in the future, when everything we know about Islam suggests that it is a resilient and permanent and powerful force, and can only be constrained when its own adherents come to see that has, in some ways, failed (the Ataturk example)?
The invasion, the disruption, the deposing of Saddam, were completely justified. The nonsensical business of spending time arguing about or wondering about or second-guessing about whether there was, wasn’t, was, wasn’t, an “Al Qaeda” connection shows just how silly people can be. What connection, other than that of Islam, need there be? If Egypt were to be acquiring major weaponry (you know, that “WMD”), could that be permitted, knowing the likelihood that Muslims in the government, or Muslims outside the government, might pass that weaponry on to others? Do we need to know anything more, such as whether or not some Iraqi met with Mohammed Atta in Prague? No, we don’t.
The “freedom-isn’t-free” and “everyone wants democracy” and “democratization should be our after-school and summer project for the next five or ten years” is nonsense. A sentimental substitute for coming to grips with the ideology of Islam. This is something no one in power in the Western world wants to do, not least because there are plenty of people around in think-tanks who, often Muslms themselves, or those who think that they because they were so tough-minded with the Soviets they have, in some sense, “given at the office” and are exempted from any need to show the same hardheadedness about another ideology, or those who get all respectful when they hear the word “religion” — well, you can see the size of the problem.
Less sentimentalism, more stratagems, less Family-of-Man, more Halford Mackinder.
Morally, we are invincible. Mentally? I am not so sure.