I did a current on the situation in Basra and how its murky dynamics illustrate how current thinking merely ensures that the war will continue forever.
James Fallows points to an affecting example of China’s continued impoverishment as reason why “who worry about China as the all-conquering juggernaut that has coped with every internal challenge and is sitting around thinking about how to take over the world” are off-base. And certainly there’s something to that. But in other respects it’s the still-in-many-ways-bleak reality of contemporary China that makes it seem threatening.
If the PRC is such a juggernaut now what’s it going to be like when the average Chinese person is, say, half as rich as the average American? And that China is still going to see itself as a relatively poor country that owes little to the world but is owed much from it. Depending on what kind of things you’re inclined to worry about, that can look like a looming environmental catastrophe, a looming national security catastrophe, or probably one of any number of other kind of catastrophes. Of course the flipside is that it’s also a great opportunity for a huge number of people to escape grinding poverty. As such it’s difficult for me to let my outlook be dominated by worry. But I think I do see what the worriers are worried about.
Speaking to the conservative Young America Foundation at George Washington University last Friday, Karl Rove adamantly defended John McCain’s remark that the U.S. should stay in Iraq for 100 years, claiming that McCain’s been taken out of context:
What Senator McCain was talking about was the projection of American power to maintain stability in a dangerous and difficult part of the world. And he was precise and detailed in his explanation.
The conservative establishment has rallied around a similar interpretation of McCain’s “100 years” remark. In the Washington Post last Friday, Charles Krauthammer called the claim that McCain wants to fight in Iraq for 100 years “a dirty lie.” Krauthammer wrote that Iraq would become, like neighboring Kuwait, a place from which the United States currently “projects power and provides stability for the entire Gulf and for the vulnerable U.S. allies that line its shores.”
In this morning’s New York Times, Bill Kristol praised McCain for choosing “to tell Americans the hard and unpopular truths that we’ll be there [in Iraq] for a while, and that there’s no sacrifice-free path to defeating our enemies and securing a lasting peace.”
National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez suggested that McCain’s remark was “sensible,” and that the attacks indicate that Democrats “don’t get the war we’re in.”
Of course, the opposite is true. It’s Karl Rove who doesn’t get that we weren’t mired in a German civil war five years after the end of World War II. It’s Charles Krauthammer who doesn’t get that Kuwait is not Iraq, and that if we’d spent years bombing their country and kicking down their doors in the middle of the night, the Kuwaitis would want us to leave, just as the Iraqis do. And it’s John McCain who doesn’t get that his neoconservative vision of using Iraq as a base from which to project U.S. power is a fantasy, because he doesn’t get that any Iraqi government that agrees to a hundred-year U.S. presence in Iraq will never be seen as legitimate by the Iraqi people, and thus will require the presence of U.S. forces to ensure its government. But we already know that “that’s fine” with John McCain.
McCain has tried to explain his 100 years remark by saying that “the war will be over soon“:
…Although the insurgency will go on for years and years and years. But it’ll be handled by the Iraqis not by us. And then we decide what kind of security arrangement we want to have with the Iraqis.
It’s unclear, exactly, how McCain differentiates between “the war” and “the insurgency,” or when he thinks the insurgency will end so that the hundred years of peace will begin.
It seems that DARPA is developing some kind of robotic attack insects despite clear indications that military robots will rebel and seek to enslave/exterminate us. The defense establishment’s continued ignorance of the basic canons of sci-fi films is genuinely appalling.
Just as a reminder of how absurd the notion that we need to stay in Iraq indefinitely to somehow curb Iranian influence, note that it took an Iranian general to help resolve the fighting in Basra. Ultimately, all that Iranian influence in Iraq shows is how badly we need to make some effort at a diplomatic opening with Iran. At the end of the day, we have very compatible interests in terms of wanting to fight al-Qaeda and ensure that oil general flows out of the Persian Gulf.
There was a time when I never could have imagined I’d be reading stuff like this about my own country:
At the age of 19, Murat Kurnaz vanished into America’s shadow prison system in the war on terror. He was from Germany, traveling in Pakistan, and was picked up three months after 9/11. But there seemed to be ample evidence that Kurnaz was an innocent man with no connection to terrorism. The FBI thought so, U.S. intelligence thought so, and German intelligence agreed. But once he was picked up, Kurnaz found himself in a prison system that required no evidence and answered to no one.
Read the whole thing; I don’t really have the heart to make a witty remark.