Monday, May 02, 2005

Supporting Jafaari

"Tony Blair, for all his flaws, remains the best centre-right option there is." --The Economist in its British election endorsement

I stand by my call to vote Lib Dem.

The new Jafaari government in Iraq certainly has its hands full, not least in finding appropriate Sunni members to represent that community. What Jafaari must do is combat corruption, ensure that all groups are represented and feel included in government, fight the insurrection militarily as well as psychologically, and write a new constitution (theoretically within six months). Easily done.

How can you not back the democratization process in Iraq? I understand that you may disagree with the way this process was begun--after initially being undecided, I wound up basically opposing the war in 2003, and I think this stance was justified by the lack of WMD. I don't think "regime change" was a good enough reason to invade Iraq. If we are going to start invading countries to change their regimes, we are biting off more than we can chew, and Iraq shouldn't necessarily have been our first stop.

That said, the Iraqi people today are enjoying the benefits of the "liberal" freedoms, freedom of speech, press, assembly, and so forth, and I think that we should fully support them as they exercise those freedoms for the first time in decades and not try to undercut it by supporting an illiberal, foreign-backed insurgency that opposes the U.S. solely because it is the U.S. and for no logical reason, certainly not for the benefit of the Iraqi people. Failure in Iraq today could have devastating consequences. Luckily, President Bush is in no mood to countenance such failure (I suppose that broadly I would agree with him on that). Really, though, I see no way in which any U.S. president (say, a President Kerry) could withdraw our troops before the "job is done"--the geopolitical consequences of such a move would be far worse than the casualties our troops are taking.

So the Iraqi government will struggle on, and it deserves our full (but not unquestioning) support. In fact, the major questions we should pose to the government are those of liberality: human rights and basic freedoms should be maintained in Iraq, and we should keep up the pressure. For if the regime is allowed to deteriorate into authoritarianism, of any type (Islamist or not), what then was fought for at all?

At least until oil prices get back below $30 a barrel. Then it doesn't matter.

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