Would it be immoral for Americans to leave Iraq, or to allow it to dissolve? Some have said so. But as to the question of morality, I don’t even understand the question. The Kurds resent the Arabs for good reason. Why should they not try to make a move for independence, and if by helping them the American govenment can weaken Syria and Iran, and have a semi-reliable ally in what was northern Iraq, why not? What is immoral about that?
And as to the sectarian divisions, they date back a thousand years before the founding of the United States. The depth and duration of that division, in other words, owes nothing to us. It is the Americans who have tried, at great human and economic cost, to make the Iraqis less tribal, less selfish, more imbued with a sense of a nation — and a nation that is not merely a place to be controlled by their sect or tribe or family. The Americans have tried to encourage entrepreneurial activity instead of reliance, as in so many other Muslim states, on either oil money or foreign aid from Infidels, and to encourage the adoption of a Constitution that would actually move away from the Shari’a.
It has all failed. And that is despite the enormous efforts of American soldiers, who were never taught about Islam, and yet persevered, and were puzzled when the Muslims of Iraq did not behave, as those soldiers expected them to, as a grateful “Iraqi people,” but rather as a collection — with a handful of exceptions — of grasping, whining, greedy, meretricious people, eager to have the Americans do everything for them, eager to have them lavish them with aid money (thrown around, by the billions, like confetti), and distinctly indifferent to American losses when not taking outright pleasure in such losses, yet always willing to blame the Americans for everything.
Does a Sunni bomb go off killing Shi’a? The Shi’a crowds gather, and tell reporters that they blame the Americans. The Sunnis are kidnapped by Shi’a militia, and the Sunnis rant against the Americans. And now 98% of the Sunni Arabs say that all attacks on Americans are justified and that they personally approve of them, and 75% of the Shi’a say the same thing. Only the Kurds express, by a large majority, lack of approval for such attacks.
What is the conceivable offense to morality in no longer sending Americans to fight and die for people who cannot overcome Islam, who will in large — and ever-increasing — numbers, take delight in the deaths of Americans? And does anyone, does even Bush, still think that Iraq could somehow become a Light Unto the Muslim Nations? Karen Hughes, Bush’s loyal and equally unintelligent aide, is the one who is most directly involved with “reaching out to Muslims.” That is the extent of our propaganda effort, an effort that should be made not to win jihadists over, but to fill them with confusion and to demoralize them, and make at least some of them begin to see that their political, economic, and social failures are a direct result of what Islam inculcates — not only the specific doctrines, but the habit of mental submission that it demands.
It is immoral for Bush and others to persist obstinately in a course that makes no sense. Like the general in “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” or like the madly complacent generals who sent people to their death in the trenches in World War I, these people are not thinking straight. Others — the soldiers and Marines of the regular army, and of the Reserves and National Guard — at least had every right to expect that they would not be sent to Iraq except in case of absolute national emergency. Yet the war in Iraq is most definitely not a case of “national emergency” but of willful ignorance of Islam, lack of imagination, lack of wit, lack of knowledge about Iraq, at the very top. And then there is always that claque of loyalists, the assorted kagans and kristols or, for that matter, that speaking-truth-to-power admirer of Edward Said, the minor polemicist Christopher Hitchens, who only yesterday began to find out a little about Islam. He’s a dab hand at running with whatever little knowledge he acquires, tout en faisant son petit Orwell.
There is nothing “machiavellian” or “immoral” about refusing to continue to keep various groups of Muslims from one another’s throats. Who knows? Maybe they’ll all make peace. Let’s say that is the outcome. I could live with that. I could also live with the other. It is theirs to make or mar. We got rid of a murderous monster. That murderous monster, it turns out, was about what Iraq appeared to need, if the only conceivable good is an absence of the kind of strife that became inevitable, sooner or later, once the regime of Saddam Hussein was removed.
Perhaps some think the regime of Saddam Hussein was moral, and that therefore it was immoral to end it, but Christopher Hitchens is not among them. He thinks the removal of Saddam Husseini was justified and desirable. Unfortunately, he also seems to think it is Americans who should pay, and keep paying, the price for that removal — instead of those whose belief-system makes them naturally unwilling to compromise, that makes them susceptible to crazed beliefs and conspiracy theories (the Sunni Arabs, for example, really allow themselves to believe that they constitute 42% of the Iraqi population, and they really believe that they have a right to that amount of power, or even more, and certainly they will never acquiesce in the Shi’a rule over Iraq).
No, it would be immoral and cruel to American soldiers to make them stay. All sorts of braggart warriors and chocolate soldiers, however — Hitchens comes to mind, and so does Frederick Kagan — are perfectly happy with this.
I find them immoral.