Andrew Sullivan on Iraq

From Andrew Sullivan, an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq, who echoes much of what I've been saying here lately about the situation there:


The reason I believe things are dire in Iraq is pretty simple. The evidence is accumulating that the insurgency - fostered by Baathist thugs, al Qaeda murderers, and other Jihadists - is gaining traction. That would be a manageable problem if the population despised them and saw a way through to a better society. But the disorder and mayhem continues to delegitimize the Iraqi government and, by inference, the coalition occupation. And the inability or unwillingness of the U.S. to seal the borders or effectively counter the terror contributes to the general view that the insurgents are going to win, and therefore the notion that the U.S.-led liberation may make matters even worse than they were before. And this is a vicious cycle. In other words, one reason the insurgency is spreading is because it has tacit support or merely passive acceptance among the general population. And once the general population turns against an occupying power, then things get really ... Algerian. The key moment was probably when George W. Bush blinked in Fallujah. That was when the general population inferred that we were not prepared to win. It's amazing, really. This president has a reputation for toughness and resolution. Yet at arguably the most critical moment in this war, he gave in. He was for taking Fallujah before he was against it. I cannot believe the situation is beyond rescue. But this president's policies have made it much much more difficult than it might have been. Elections are now more vital than ever - because they are the sole means of gaining the advantage in the legitimacy stakes. With those must come a relentless guerrilla war against the enemy, a massive increase in troop levels (whether Iraqi or America), and a huge effort for reconstruction. But we have thrown away a year's worth of opportunity. By incompetence and lack of will. Fallujah was a kind of Dunkirk. And Bush is no Churchill.

He then goes on to quote a Wall Street Journal reporter about what is going on in Baghdad:

Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are things?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad.' What they mean by 'situation' is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

I'm absolutely astonished as I talk to Bush supporters about this, that they appear totally unconcerned. They really have bought into this idea that the media is lying to us and everything is great in Iraq. Trotting out Allawi to say "Hey, things are going great" actually worked, despite the mounting evidence that shows that it was a bunch of nonsense. We no longer control a whole raft of cities that we did a few months ago, the number of attacks has gone up to over 80 per day and have gotten more sophisticated, and even the vaunted Green Zone isn't safe anymore. This is bad, folks, and with Ramadan coming up it's gonna get a lot worse.

More like this

I posted a bit of this email from a Wall Street Journal reporter in Baghdad in the Andrew Sullivan post below, but there's more worth reading in it. It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when…
I just saw a few minutes of Fox's Bill O'Reilly being interviewed by Matt Lauer on The Today Show regarding President Bush's surprise visit to Baghdad along with other issues of the Iraq war. Undoubtedly, there will be some folks who will parse and critique every word that Matt and Bill uttered,…
river The responses were typical- war supporters said the number was nonsense because, of course, who would want to admit that an action they so heartily supported led to the deaths of 600,000 people (even if they were just crazy Iraqis...)? Admitting a number like that would be the equivalent of…
Much has been written about the incompetence with which the Bush administration has pursued the war and post-war occupation in Iraq. I'd like to add to our understanding of that situation by looking, in hindsight, at what was predicted with foresight before the war. Many of the people who were…

Closing Iraq's borders? Interesting concept. We can't keep drugs out of US prisons, but we're going to close Iraq's borders?

It's a law of the universe -- no power on earth can keep people, products, terrorists, or bombs from crossing borders, walls, or whatever.

But this is the problem with politicians and politics -- a complete disregard for reality. And so more and more people will die and the regime that finally comes to power in Iraq will do so because it is the most brutal . . . and the most hostile to us.

Take Fallugah? How many innocent Iraqi's would have died in the process? And how many of the friends and family members of those innocents would then have gone over to the insurgency? And so then we fight them too and more innocents die and more people join the insurgency.

I'll keep saying it -- we lost this war the moment we started it. The only thing we can do now is make it worse. And worse. And worse. And worse. Which is exactly what we will do, because it's the only thing politicians excell at, other than getting elected.

By Perry Willis (not verified) on 30 Sep 2004 #permalink