Saturday, July 26, 2003

Naivete and Iraq

OK folks,

1. The previous post was not about whether our intervention in Iraq was just or justifiable.

2. This post was not about whether we are, after four months, "bogged down." I didn't say that and nothing in my post implies that. I have no doubt that our military can handle the situation there.

3. That means that all of the comment-box blathering about Vietnam vs. Iraq is simply irrelevant to my point. Utterly irrelevant.

Fr. Stanley's note regarding Christopher Hitchens' report is interesting and relevant:

Christopher Hitchens, the once-liberal writer/commentator, reports that in his recent [this month] tour of Iraq, he sees no great unrest aimed at the Allied forces, no hate protests against US forces.

Of course, our soldiers are still being killed on almost a daily basis (3 more today) so obviously some people over there want us out, and I don't think they're going to go quietly into the night.

Furthermore, the lack of hate protests or unrest could simply be the result of the "sullen resignation" I adduced earlier, and not evidence that our presence is welcomed.

Commentor Josh gets the Gold Star for the day for grasping the point of my post. My concern is that our aims and goals in Iraq are naive and unachievable. I think the idea that we can "democratize" Iraq is almost laughable. It is imposing our 21st century Western Christian mindset on a radically foreign culture. We naturally think that democracy and the guarantee of individual rights and freedoms, and belief in the intrinsic dignity and worth of the individual are all wonderful things. But these things are not prized in Arab culture, nor in Islam. Hence, the idea that Iraq could sustain a Western-style democratic government is unrealistic.

Another commentor conceded that the goal of instituting democracy in Iraq was "absurd". He said that our goal there was to "remove Hussein" and to "stand up to killers and thugs." Now, standing up to "killers and thugs" certainly seems like a laudable thing. And we've done so, having removed Hussein and his regime of killers and thugs. But any new "democratic" government we install there will collapse because the culture won't sustain it, and Islam won't tolerate it. If that happens and Iraq ends up with a despotic Sharia state, how can we say we've improved things there? If that happens then there will be more anti-Western feeling in the Arab world, there will be more radical Islamist ferment. Under those circumstances, I wouldn't give a nickel for the prospects of the Christian minorities in places like Iraq. Then the pre-war concerns voiced by people like Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Sodano won't look quite so "idiotic".