In his speech of 2004 May 24, US President Bush said that he would continue his Administration's previous policy in Iraq, with the possible addition of more deals with US enemies, as in Fallujah.It is possible that US negotiations in Fallujah mean that the Sunni guerillas have been separated from other Sunni powers and will not cause much trouble to the US. At the same time, their military power may enable the Sunni to protect themselves from Shi'ite justice. It is also possible that the more powerful of the various Shi'ite factions will cooperate with the United States and not work strongly for Iran.
But that is not my main concern. It looks to me that the President decided to give up the long term goal of victory. The goal was to enable Americans to feel safe from attack, one or two generations from now.
Instead of educating people to a two part strategy for US security, the President looks to be focusing just on one part. Although he speaks in favor of the second part, he is not preparing people for it.
(No one in the current Bush Administration has said that they are following this two part strategy. However, I do not think that the United States government and its military were persuaded by the arguments the Bush Administration has made. I think the two part strategy is, or was, US policy.)
The first part of the strategy is to intimidate dictatorships, such as those in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and thereby to cause their governments to support the US. This part fits within the `The Jacksonian Tradition' of US politics. It also fits the "inference-preserving cross-domain mapping" that US conservatives often use for thinking about politics.
The second part of the strategy involves persuading the unconvinced to replace their governments with governments that lead fewer people to oppose the US.
This means overthrowing the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia and Iran. Al Qaeda also hopes to overthrow those dictatorships. The US goal is to replace those regimes with governments harmless to the US rather than with a re-invigorated theocratic despotism that opposes the US.
Intimidation cannot work for generations: eventually, if they are not assimilated, at least a few of the intimidated will cease to be intimidated and will fight back. Consequently, the United States will eventually have to replace a policy of intimidation or else suffer defeat. It has no alternative.
Since people who consider their circumstances just are less inclined to fight others, the goal for the US must be to arrange for justice. Since free and democratic countries are more likely to provide the institutions that enable them to adapt well to change and provide for justice, the US must support such change.
In his speech, President Bush said "America's task ... is ... to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom." This is a general way of saying that he is against the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elsewhere, and that he favors ending US intimidation.
The question is whether you think President Bush's methods will succeed?
There are two aspects to this question. One is whether current policy will succeed in Iraq; the other is whether the President is doing enough to prepare Americans for the second half of the strategy.
Regarding the first aspect, do you think that the US can guarantee order and law in Iraq? These are the necessary preconditions for justice and democracy.
Or do you think that those who oppose US success will continue to fight, if not this year, within the next five or ten years?
The argument for continuing to fight is straightforward: over the last 30 years, the US has pulled out of Vietnam pulled out of the Lebanon, and pulled out of Somalia. In each case, US opponents say the pullout occurred because US suffered more casualties than it could bear. They say that the US is more willing to suffer defeat than to suffer casualties. Thus, for them, fighting leads to victory against the US.
Moreover, many Sunni police and soldiers fear that the Shi'ites will seek justice against them and that US will not guard them.
The recent deal between the US and its enemies in Fallujah tends to negate this fear. The deal enables Sunni guerillas to maintain their positions, so long as they do not fight the US: locals may figure that their co-religion's soldiers will deter the Shi'ites, even if the US does not.
But Sunni soldiers must also think that if they are strong enough to deter the Shi'ites, they could go further and sabotage the development of a government that protects the Shi'ites. They must consider the possibility of regaining strength in a temporary truce with the US and then fighting again.
Similarly, the Shi'ite may welcome the US defeat of Saddam Hussein, as Chalabi has, but then seek power for themselves. Among other goals, they may seek justice. This is a good reason to oppose the US.
Finally, those who favor a new caliphate must oppose the US. In so far as the US fails to provide security in Iraq, they will defeat the US.
I myself think that the Sunni, the Shi'ites, and President Bush may all agree to a temporary truce. The Sunni and the Shi'ites would do so to regain strength and President Bush would do so to improve his chance for re-election in November 2004.
I do not know what Al Qaeda will do. They may be sufficiently weakened that they cannot attack the US; or they may prefer a known Bush Administration over an unknown Kerry Administration; or they may expect a Kerry Administration to be less dangerous to them and that defeating Bush is a victory for themselves. If the latter, I expect an attack against the US or US interests that is symbolically powerful, since the goal for a militarily weak power is to persuade rather than coerce.
Clearly, the Bush Administration hopes either that Al Qaeda is weak or that it prefer the known Bush Administration. The President could well be defeated in his re-election if a symbolically powerful attack takes place within the next few months.
The next aspect of the question is whether you think the US President has acted to convince enough people that the long term US goal is to create democracies within countries in which some people have opposed the US?
I do not. Put positively, I think the US government would make a more convincing argument would succeed better in the war against terrorism if it did the following:
Without seeing that all this is being done, I fear the government has abandoned the goal of victory.
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