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Fukuyama on our options in Iraq

Francis Fukuyama thinks our options in Iraq are somewhat worse than in South Vietnam. The operative phrase, however, is this one: "politically meaningful future." There is no evidence, in his view, that anyone in the U.S. wants to do what it takes to succeed in Iraq, so that our options amount to finding the least problematical form of failure:

Do we have any other choice than to withdraw? We could stick it out, and I suspect that we could avoid losing in Iraq for another five, 10 or 15 years, as long as we’re willing to maintain high troop levels, continue to spend large amounts of money and suffer more casualties. But even the most conservative Republican candidates are unlikely to campaign on a platform of staying in Iraq indefinitely when the primary season starts next winter and the war enters its sixth year.

This means that we will have to engage in a very different debate from the one we have been having up to now, a debate not about surging and not about withdrawing with our goals accomplished but about how to draw down our forces in a way that minimizes the costs that will inevitably accompany our loss of control.

I can’t tell from this whether FF thinks that, absent our loss of heart, we could shore up an Iraqi government for long enough to have an acceptable outcome or (more likely) that our defeat is "inevitable."

I ask: in what sense inevitable? Is it inevitable because we simply can’t assure a decent outcome or because we won’t?

See the thread begun by Victor Davis Hanson
here for a "realistic" discussion of what FF’s realism really means.

Discussions - 15 Comments

I doubt Mr. "End-of-History" could find his butt with both hands in broad daylight. Why are we wasting time listening to this guy?

This conflict doesn't amount to a Vietnam by any stretch of the imagination -- the numbers are different, the history is different, the geopolitical context is different. How can we win? Well, we have to be willing to do innovative and controversial things, like partition, like field trials and executions, like "flush the quarry" surges, like making a new Kurdistan as our forward base in the Middle East. What constrains us here is tired, politically-correct thinking. As Yoda might say: "Win, or do not -- there is no try."

I tend to agree with Dain. If anything, my war effort would be much more ferocious to our real enemies, the Iranians and the "saudis." I think the answer lies with Sherman. I've recently reread VDH's The Soul of Battle. And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that a policy of limited war is nothing but a policy of protracted Western defeat. As for FF, he lost his nerve. It was difficult for him standing up to the criticism of his peers in academia. It was easier for him to fold. And then again, this Bush administration hasn't made it easy for those that want to support the campaign in Afghanistan, the campaign in Iraq and the wider war.

Dain, I think you got your lead sentence from 12 O'clock High. "Every navigator who couldn't find his way to the men's room, you get him, every bombardier who couldn't hit his OWN plate with his fork, you get him, every gunner who couldn't hit his butt with both hands, you get him, 'cause you rate him." That's what's called getting "dressed down." That's one hell of a movie.

The enemy is us (attributed to Pogo, I believe). 100 years worth of oh-so easily accessible light sweet crude (at current consumption rates) is the prize, for whichever political solution and its proponents is found for Iraq. Stop imposing contractual arrangements on foreign resources, stop propping up the US currency with non-renewable, purely physical goods and rewrite your future.
Buckminster Fuller, E.F. Schumacher and even T. A. Edison are among your inspirers. Stem and reverse the world-wide flow of people from rural to urban 'zones'. You can export the solutions and rebuild your image.
Start yesterday (Yoda from another era).

Dan said:

I tend to agree with Dain. If anything, my war effort would be much more ferocious to our real enemies, the Iranians and the "saudis."
But Dan, our real enemies aren't the Iranians. We're protecting the Iranians. If you consider the entire country to be the insurgents, doesn't that make us agressors by definition?

I agree with Fukuyama on this one point, but I don't trust the guy any more than you guys do.

Somebody may have confused Iraqis for Iranians.

I didn't.

We are not going to pacify Iraq without neutralizing the regime in Tehran. And it's useless to try to peel off Syria from Tehran BEFORE ending once and for all Tehran's Manhattan Project. Once we completely stop that sinister Manhattan Project, then our diplomacy might find some traction in Damascus. But in the absence of us completely ending that Manhattan Project, we're simply spinning our tires, going nowhere, nowhere fast.

And these blockheads in Washington don't see it, or what's worse, DO SEE IT, but haven't the moral fortitude to do something about it.

This administration has become a first class nightmare.

We're drifting towards a world where Iran controls the Persian Gulf, and the whole Mideast is in the throes of a full-fledged nuclear arms race.

But hey, don't give it a thought. I know what to do, let's send Condi! Let's send Condi on another useless trip for discussions in the Mideast. That's the ticket. That will solve everything.

You can't make this stuff up. It's beyond gallows' humour.

Oh, and by the way, take a gander today at David Frum's spot over at National Review Online.

Just read a bit about the beliefs of those devotees of the religion of peace.

Just read it.

Iraqis/Iranians - you're abolutely right. I'm mortified.

Interesting point though - if we'd kept out of Iraq in the early nineties, then Hussein would have taken Iran, we could have sanctioned him into paralysis, and we wouldn't be in this mess now.

Nope, the Iraq-Iran war had ended...and Saddam was essentially the loser. He invaded Kuwait as a way of making up for the appearance of weakness (and he needed the "social glue" that comes with ongoing conflict).

In that case, we didn't even have a reason to invade Iraq in '93? Geez, why do we keep doing that?

'93? No, we pushed them out of Kuwait in '91. Danny, I thought we agreed that you would stop that drug use.

Sustain, if we find you talking online about the Buckminster Fuller connection again, we'll send you to that great Geodesic Dome in the sky.

Hey, I'm way off on dates - if it's good enough for the president, it oughtta be good enough for me.

I hope the susbstance of my comment wasn't lost in my clumsy specifics.

Again, no, Danny. Pretty much the whole world approved of our actions in '91...the coalition was huge, and included Arab nations. The mistake was in obeying the stupid United Nations and leaving Saddam in power. That cost as many as 300,000 lives, and lots of later aggravation.

you're absolutely right Dain - this time we took him out, and that has gone much, much better for everybody.

You know, Danny, sarcasm is a poor substitute for argumentation. It actually would have been better to take him out sooner. Old man Bush screwed up, period.

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