Friday, November 03, 2006

Ralph Peters: War Is Over, If You Want It (And Even If You Don't)

Last gasps in Iraq
I supported this war, but the deteriorating situation is starting to convince me that we can’t win. Those of us who hoped that the Iraqis could achieve democracy were wrong — and their failure has implications for the entire region.-Ralph Peters

Ralph Peters is a tough-minded veteran, formerly a strong war supporter and optimist on Iraq. Not any longer. He thinks the war is lost. Here's what he has to say.

Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. Even six months ago, there was hope. Now the chances for a democratic, unified Iraq are dwindling fast. The country's prime minister has thrown in his lot with al-Sadr, our mortal enemy. He has his eye on the future, and he's betting that we won't last. The police are less accountable than they were under Saddam. Our extensive investment in Iraqi law enforcement only produced death squads. Government ministers loot the country to strengthen their own factions. Even Iraq's elections — a worthy experiment — further divided Iraq along confessional and ethnic lines. Iraq still exists on the maps, but in reality it's gone. Only a military coup — which might come in the next few years — could hold the artificial country together.

This chaos wasn't inevitable. While in Iraq late last winter, I remained soberly hopeful. Since then, the strength of will of our opponents — their readiness to pay any price and go to any length to win — has eclipsed our own. The valor of our enemies never surpassed that of our troops, but it far exceeded the fair-weather courage of the Bush administration.

Yet, for all our errors, we did give the Iraqis a unique chance to build a rule-of-law democracy. They preferred to indulge in old hatreds, confessional violence, ethnic bigotry and a culture of corruption. It appears that the cynics were right: Arab societies can't support democracy as we know it. And people get the government they deserve.

For us, Iraq's impending failure is an embarrassment. For the Iraqis — and other Arabs — it's a disaster the dimensions of which they do not yet comprehend. They're gleeful at the prospect of America's humiliation. But it's their tragedy, not ours.

Iraq was the Arab world's last chance to board the train to modernity, to give the region a future, not just a bitter past. The violence staining Baghdad's streets with gore isn't only a symptom of the Iraqi government's incompetence, but of the comprehensive inability of the Arab world to progress in any sphere of organized human endeavor. We are witnessing the collapse of a civilization. All those who rooted for Iraq to fail are going to be chastened by what follows.

Iraq still deserves one last chance — as long as we don't confuse deadly stubbornness and perseverance. If, at this late hour, Iraqis in decisive numbers prove willing to fight for their own freedom and a constitutional government, we should be willing to remain for a generation. If they continue to revel in fratricidal slaughter, we must leave.


At 11:25 PM, Blogger scrotum2 said...

As a former Vietnam veteran, I originally supported the war, and totally agree with Mr. Peters assessment. I have one unanswered question. What happened to the approximate 26,000 Elite Republican Guard, that protected Saddam? According to this Time mag article dated 4 May 2003, we did not kill them. Is this who we are fighting now as civilians, but are trained militia, and the Al Qaeda combined? Was the Republican Guard not loyal and well paid by Saddam? What are they doing now... Painting school houses, running barber shops and bakeries....?

It is apparent the Iraqi people do not want Democracy. They want Allah and the Mullah's to tell them what is right, and what is wrong.

Reference Time Mag article, where have the Republican Guard gone?:,9171,1101030512-449441,00.html


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