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What is "victory" in Iraq?
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, November 16, 2006

One of the questions bothering me lately has to do with what would constitute "victory" in Iraq. How do you plan if you don't know what end-state constitutes "victory"?

Now it goes without saying that if "victory" were the defeat of the Iraqi military and regime change (which was the policy of this and the previous administration) then we certainly achieved a level of victory in 2003.

Obviously however, since we're still there and Iraq is still unstable, most don't consider just that to be "victory".

So what is "victory" in Iraq? Or is it, as Nancy Peolsi says, not a war to be won, but just a problem to be solved? Wouldn't such a solution be "victory". If so what's the solution?

Is it a self-sufficient Iraq which can defend itself and has a reasonably functioning government and armed forces?

Is it the defeat of the insurgency?

Is it western-style democracy?

Stabilility regardless of the type government as long as it is friendly to the US?

I hear the term "victory" thrown about willy-nilly by many diverse groups and interests but other than to say it can or can't be achieved, I never hear anyone say precisely what it is anymore.

So I throw it open to you in three parts. How would you define "victory" in Iraq? Is it achievable? If not, why not? Show your work.
 
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In a few years the violence falls to Northern Irish levels (Pre-Good Friday Accords)... the nation is nominally a democracy, every 10-15 years the Army intervenes to put down the corrupt politicians, in 30-40 years the Army no longer does so, and a true multi-party democracy emerges. You know a lot like Taiwan, South Korea and Turkey...

Along the way an American Corps Headquarters remains deployed along with several combat brigades and several more brigade sets POMCUS, we maintain a NTC/CMTC in-country allowing us to rotate brigade groups in for extensive desert training. The USAF maintains a presence, over-builds Iraq air base infrastructure to handle "surge" from the US and pre-positions munitions, parts and fuel in-country. The USAF also trains, extensively, in-country.

Eventually the Left points our the continued "failure" in Iraq, until democracy emerges, then all that is "in the past and it’s time to move on." The Iraqi’s prosper and come to resent our presence, complaining about our "occupation" and the failure to "De-Ba’athify" the Nation, eventually they achieve Israeli-levels of prosperity and demand we leave and quit voting our way at the UN...kind of like Germany.

The above is only whimsical in tone...it is what "Victory" is going to look like. No "Appomattox Courthouse", " No Rail Car in Compaigne", "No Doenitz at Koln." There will be the equivalent of the Good Friday Accords, the country will prosper, and one day things will be bad, but the Army will decide the time for military coups are over and it’s up to the politicians to bail out the country. Some of us may be alive to see it. I won’t be, I’m too old.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Post-9/11 Premise: "Kill the bad guys."

Iraq Application: Saddam Hussein’s head on a stake planted in downtown Baghdad; the last American officer stands in the door of the last flight out of town and says, "Don’t make us come back."

I say it’s way too late for "victory".

All this "nation-building" rubbish put the skids to that.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
at this point it seems most useful to consider victory in terms of what is reasonably achievable in Iraq. Given this it seems three elements must be present. 1) a stable government or governments (I’ve no objection to stable partitions) 2) a substantial decrease in political violence, say not significantly more than Israel experiences (I use this benchmark just by my impression of Israels situation, I’m open to some other real world example) 3) not significantly anti-American, specifically regarding Iran.
 
Written By: Adam
URL: http://
Victory to me would be an Iraq that can begin the process of turning the page on the Despotic rule. Elected Government, Rebuilding the infrastructure (1. Satellite TV/Radio 2. Cultural projects 3. Cell infrastructure 4. Oil), The ability to protect itself. A level of violence that can be addressed internally by Iraq’s own institutions. A point were foriegn investment VC would feel comfortable helping rebuild the economy. And a KFC in every province.
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
How would you define "victory" in Iraq?

1. Regime Change - Done
2. Constitution - Done
3. Elective Government - Done
4. Security - Ongoing
5. Economic and Diplomatic Independence (hopefully supportive of the US) - ?

This may be a simple model and the events laid out may not be in order but if you look at previous examples (Postwar Japan and Germany) the process is similar. And in the case of Germany, there was an active insurgency although there was not the same type of sectarian violence present.

Is it achievable?

Yes. To say we cannot walk into a 1,000 year old medieval society and convert it into a modern democracy is historical bunk. What do you think we faced in 1945 Japan? (OK - Japan was a 1,500 year old medieval society)

In the case of Japan, we have a similar protagonist. We felt we had to convert Japan or possibly lose her to the Soviets, who were breathlessly hoping for us to fail in the East. Any similarities here? All but one - with Japan, the general consensus was there was a Soviet/Communist threat. With Iraq, there is no such consensus.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Victory in Iraq: when we don our softcaps, turn our backs, and walk peacefully away. If we are wearing body armor when leave, then we have lost.
 
Written By: y7
URL: http://
Victory in Iraq: when we don our softcaps, turn our backs, and walk peacefully away. If we are wearing body armor when leave, then we have lost.
*LOL* Well said...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
We’ve all got our own definitions of victory, just as we all have our own reasons for supporting or not supporting the war.

That’s a failure of leadership on Bush’s part. Any wartime President has to communicate what we are fighting for and what our war aims are. The President hasn’t communicated that adequately. Even the soldiers on the ground have their individual reasons for supporting the effort. There’s just no unified message here.

Even in Vietnam, we had a unified message and a definition of victory(defeat of the Communist guerillas).
 
Written By: Adam Herman
URL: http://francoisworld.blogspot.com
Saddam dead.

Elected government standing with only aid and advisors from outside.

At most sporadic, but not systemic, violence.

Al Qaeda marginalized.
 
Written By: Larry
URL: http://
" What do you think we faced in 1945 Japan? (OK - Japan was a 1,500 year old medieval society"

Japan was a unified, cohesive, peaceful(internally, anyway) society. It also had a functioning government which had the loyalty of virtually all the people. It was officially, I think, a constitutional monarchy with an elected and funtioning legislature and government. It was, of course, hijacked by the militrarists who assasinated a few officers and politicians who opposed them, but there was a solid structure and experienced bureaucrats and acceptably peaceful politicians in place.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
victory (at this point) is respect by Iraqis for their own rule of law.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Adam, you mean like the message we sent Japan and German, "Unconditional Surrender" AND the "Four Freedoms"? Those were QUITE specific...I’m afraid you’re creating an impossible standard there. "Victory is when there 8.71 deaths per 100,000 live births, Iraqi GDP is USD 12,481 per capita (in 2003 US Dollars), 12.75% of the Iraqi Parliament is female AND ...."

I like mine, violence falls, to something LIKE Northern Ireland...people will STILL be bombing and assassinating in Iraq for decades to come, the question is, is the violence sufficient to destroy/destabalize the civil society? And has a "civil society" been created? Those are soft and imprecise terms, but that’s what society’s ultimately end up with...

People fight wars for a HOST of reasons, not just one or a few or the ones annunciated by the Government. The Wehrmacht fought on from 1943 mostly ont he hope of "Not Losing the War" not matter WHAT the government said and those on the Ost Front fought on in a desperate desire not to die horribly...

You’ve watched too much Sci-Fi., where the "Klingons" or the "People of Rigel III" speak and act... the reality is groups act for numerous reasons, not always reasons shared by all members of the group.

But I did like this variant of "It’s Bush’s fault."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Victory conditions?

A month without car bombs, kidnappings, or factional murders.

As Joe said, not in my lifetime.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Victory was defeat of Saddam Hussein’s army.
It was achieved April 2003.
It led, however, to a disintegration in Iraqi security and stability.

Restoring that is not something the US can accomplish with military means or through a so-called ’magic bullet’ since it requires building partnerships and compromises across various ethnic and interest groups in Iraq, as well as political leaders (often with militias). In fact, it could well be that continued American military action makes such a solution harder to achieve.

A solution is American disengagement from what is really an Iraqi problem in a manner that does not do more harm than good. The solution does not mean total withdrawal of all troops right away, but may be a mix of removing some troops, focusing on support/training of Iraqi forces and a diminished role of military engagement. Ultimately I am convinced talking with Iran and Syria can help in creating support for trying to bring Iraqi groups together to build compromises on oil revenues, security, and incorporating militias into a security force.

The mistake in Iraq was a belief that the US could ’spread democracy’ and turn Saddam’s Iraq into an American ally that would even recognize Israel. It was thought that defeat of Saddam plus massive reconstruction work would win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people (presumably to support a pro-American government such as that of Allawi). That was unrealistic given the socio-political conditions in Iraq. Another mistake was belief that ’removing a bad guy’ was a cure (some thought killing Zarqawi would crippe the insurgency, as some now want to knock off al-Sadr). The problems and difficulties in Iraq go beyond the personalities. We have to not give into the "evil individual fallacy." This isn’t something that can be fixed by getting rid of a bunch of bad guys.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Ultimately I am convinced talking with Iran and Syria can help in creating support for trying to bring Iraqi groups together to build compromises on oil revenues, security, and incorporating militias into a security force.
If ONLY Haile Selassi had talked to the Italians or if the Republicans had involved Mussolini and Hitler in their negotions with the Franco Loyalists, things would have been SO much better.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Scott do you work at ther State Department? How can someone write so much and say so little.
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
That is why they say that PHD is an abbreviation for "Piled Higher and Deeper".
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Victory conditions?

A month without car bombs, kidnappings, or factional murders.
You don’t even go a month without all of these in major American cities...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Arabian Nightmares
We’re blind to the fundamental moral travesty in Iraq (and elsewhere): Spare the killers in the name of human rights, and you deprive the overwhelming majority of the population of their human rights. Instead of being proud of ourselves for our "moral superiority," we should be ashamed to the depths of our souls.
We need to get off our moral high-horse and finish the job. Without the PC bullsh#t
 
Written By: VA Libertarian
URL: http://virginialibertarian.com/blog/
Sorry, hit post by accident. We need to realize that during a war (or whatever it is we’re calling it these days), we have to kill people. We can’t win this war without eliminating the enemy, whomever that may be. That is the only way this can be one, but I don’t think that the American people have the will for that any more. We haven’t had a down and gritty war that we have seen through since WW2. We pulled out of Vietnam, the other gulf wars were just the run-up to what is happening now. We have found that we can’t win this one just with surgical air strikes, and we are losing our will to continue fighting.
 
Written By: VA Libertarian
URL: http://virginialibertarian.com/blog/
Victory conditions?
A month without car bombs, kidnappings, or factional murders.
You don’t even go a month without all of these in major American cities...
And I blame Bush for that. Quagmire, redeploy from NYC to DeBuque or Sheboygan...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
First of all, SShiell has it pretty close.
That said VA Libertarians comments ring very true, and are what I’ve said here previously.

Secondly; Scott:
It led, however, to a disintegration in Iraqi security and stability
Like it was overly secure and stable before Saddam got removed?

Please.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
re: more killing by US forces.

In this country alone, we have twice found things worth fighting for on our native (more or less) soil — the War for Independence and the Civil War.

Iraqis are fighting both their own War for Independence and their Civil War at the same time. They’re home; we’re thousands of miles from home. They have collectively decided that these wars are worth fighting, and until THEY decide that they have had enough, the wars will go on.

Who, precisely, should we be killing? And how can we ensure that each death does not lead to two more deciding that it is now time to fight?

answer: we don’t know, and we can’t.

note: both Japan and Germany were nation-states before being occupied. They are terrible examples of the consequences of foreign occupation. While there is no precise historical analogy, i’m coming to the conclusion that post-colonial Africa provides the best model for understanding the strains and stresses within Iraq society.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
When the military goes postmodern you know that things are going poorly.

Victory is defined when you start a war. If you fail to achieve your goals then you have not won. When you start to redefine victory all you are really doing is trying to change the goalposts so that you can claim that you did not lose.

Wars that are won have many of the following characteristics:

1. The winner is stronger and more united at the end of the war than they were at the beginning
2. Likely future enemies of the winner are intimidated, poorer or are in some way worse off
3. The winners are usually richer for it
4. An issue of serious disagreement has been settled.
5. Both sides agree on who won and who lost.




 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
The American troops have already won the war: The capital was taken, and the thug was plucked from his ’spider hole,’ tried, and sentenced to death for his crimes against his own people. That’s victory.

What has not been won is the peace. Since it took Christianity 500 years to end its sectarian violence, and Pakistan still has its bomb-a-month, why should we expect ’peace’ in Iraq as a condition of "victory"?

The war in Iraq is won. The peace is not, and will not be won for...500 years.

’Be free.’
 
Written By: a Duoist
URL: http://www.duoism.org
Speaking of post-colonial Africa. I really have to feel for Darfur. It is going to be a cold day in hell before a politician decides to intervene in that situation. I guess their just going to have to settle for allot of tough diplomatic talk, rounds of conferences and beefy resolutions to stop the bloodshed there.
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
If ONLY Haile Selassi had talked to the Italians or if the Republicans had involved Mussolini and Hitler in their negotions with the Franco Loyalists, things would have been SO much better.
The fallacy of assuming opponents to necessarily be Hitlerian is irrational and misguided. Syria is weak; Iran is but a regional power, but even with nuclear weapons would find its power limited. After all, Israel could blanket Iran with nuclear attacks and destroy the basis of the current regime, and the Iranians know it.

This tendency to say "we’ll define our opponents as crazy and unable to compromise so we don’t have to even try to talk with them" is a path to failure.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
It is striking how similar Americans are to the French. Both hold on to a sense of inate superiority from events of long ago. The French have their Napoleon and we have WWII.
Neither Napoleon nor WWII can be of great help in the modern world. Just imagine CNN reporters in Moscow or Hiroshima.
This discussion about Iraq, too, fails to recognize that Iraq does not exist in a bubble, separate from the tumult of the Middle East as a whole. There is no way to limit the battlefield to a designated area anymore. The whole world watches what happens in Baghdad, and it will have its say, whether we like ot or not.
There is no way that the neihboring bad guys, Iran and Syria, can be kept out of the game. They might, however, have an interest in preventing Iraq from disintegrating totally. There is a sliver of a chance that we could exploit that interest to give the US a chance to leave with semi-dignity in tact.
When my son was a teenager, I watched a Monty Python movie with him. In one eopsode, a knight’s limbs were chopped off one by one, as he continued on his intended course, until there was only a torso left. The knight never considered turning back or looking for a different road or questioning the wisdom of his intended goal. After all, he was a brave knight.




 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
The fallacy of assuming opponents to necessarily be Hitlerian is irrational and misguided.
They don’t have to HITLERIAN, Scott, they just have to be the enemy... so you are proposing the nations that have NO interest in US success in Iraq be brought into "negotiations" to solve the Iraq problem. In fact, they have nearly diametrically OPPOSITE designs and desires for Iraq than the US, but you would involve them in "solving" the problem? John Gotti wasn’t Hitlerian, either, but I don’t think he’d be the person I’ dput on the task force to deal with Organized Crime, either.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
What Joe said in the first comment. But need to acknowledge this ideal model is not currently achievable. As long as Iran, Syria and the Gulf Sunni are supporting armed rebellion in Iraq there will be conflict, and the current posture of Iraq/America provides little incentive for these neighbours to cease support for insurrection.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
mcq: you’re right in that we ’won’ the wars we first set out on. we made sure Iraq didn’t have wmds, we got rid of hussein and his sons, we let the world know we would use military force - alone if necessary - to protect ourselves and we gave the iraqis the opportunity to set their own destiny. and had we taken off right after that was done, had we ignored Powell’s ridiculous ’you break it, you fix it’, there’d be no question about whether we had won.

as far as what is going on right now, there’s no victory to be won in the classical sense. while our troops are certainly in harm’s way, we are not the real ’enemy’. Our troops are more chaperone and peacekeeper (yes, I know there’s no peace to keep but the term still works) than combatant. they’re being targeted because they’re in the way. ’Victory’ is defined by how well we can keep the Iraqis from killing one another... and since the Iraqis really want to kill each other, I would have to say that this is one fight we can not win.

Sometimes the smart thing to do is recognize there are some situations where, despite all of our best intentions, we really don’t have the power to make things right.

 
Written By: steve
URL: http://
Wars that are won have many of the following characteristics:
.
.
.
5. Both sides agree on who won and who lost.


I’ma guess you’re a yankee ain’t ya.....any southron would know it’s really too soon to tell....
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
They don’t have to HITLERIAN, Scott, they just have to be the enemy... so you are proposing the nations that have NO interest in US success in Iraq be brought into "negotiations" to solve the Iraq problem. In fact, they have nearly diametrically OPPOSITE designs and desires for Iraq than the US, but you would involve them in "solving" the problem? John Gotti wasn’t Hitlerian, either, but I don’t think he’d be the person I’ dput on the task force to deal with Organized Crime, either.
Syria and Iran have clear interests in avoiding instability in Iraq. Your assertion about their designs for Iraq is unsupported; I think you’re imagining things. Syria and Iran also don’t necessarily have to be enemies. They may not be allies or friends, but we can find mutual interests.

And our actions in Iraq have benefited Iran greatly, both in 1991 and in 2003. They now have an Iraq with a government friendly to their regime, and their arch rival Saddam is gone. Iran therefore is the regional power, and that is a reality the US has to deal with it — like it or not. Our ability to shape events there is limited.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Wow so we are to sit back and threaten Nuclear inhalation to all that harm us. That will get the Iranians bargaining for peace in the region. That’s a great foreign policy. Or maybe we should drop the road map and sign on with the EU triumph orate, they sound so fresh and new things might actually get better.

Who wants to bet that if attacked, some of us would oppose the nuclear option because of collateral damage? Other would oppose it only after it played out so they sound more intellectual than they really are.
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
Syria and Iran have clear interests in avoiding instability in Iraq.

*SIGH* Scott they don’t want INSTABILITY, they want STABILITY all right, the stability of Iraq as a CLIENT State...are you so blind? They AREN’T our allies nor will they ever BE our allies, much less friends, so long as the current regimes are in place...

Bringing them into help "solve" the problem will SOLVE THE PROBLEM and they’ll bring stability... the Shi’I may run the place, as as a authoritarian state dependent on Syria and Iran for it’s continued existence! They’ll solve the problem to THEIR ADVANTAGE, which is NOT a democratic state by any means.

Some how you can not seem to grasp that it’s not US that views THEM as enemies, but that SYRIA AND IRAN VIEW THEMSELVES AS THE US’ ENEMIES. The perceptual problem does not lie in Washington, but rather in Damscus, Tehran and apparently in Maine.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I’ve repeatedy defined victory as Iraq becoming a free, peaceful, non-theocratic representative republic. So far, they’re about as free as Lebanon, which isn’t great but still better than any other Arab nations. They’re not peaceful, which is the number one problem, and there are Sunni and Shia segments that want a sharia paradise and have furthered their agenda in militant fashion. They have a representative republic, if they can keep it.
 
Written By: Charles Bird
URL: http://www.redstate.org
And all Lebanon needs is to get out from under the violence brought on by our buddies and new negotiating partners Iran & Syria. I am sure most Lebanese would perfer not to live in a war zone. Maybe if we all got around a camp fire and sang songs and hugged our fears away we could achieve peace in the middle east.
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
three things

1) stability
2) no gross human rights abuses (since we will be blamed indirectly)
3) no terrorist bases in the country

Anything else is just gravy.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Victory is a secret. It will be unintend consequence that falls in your favor as a nation in the future, IF you stick with it. It will be unintended consequence for all of the middle east and the world. You may not be liked right now, but the benefits will outweigh the cost 50 years from now. Of this, I assure you.
 
Written By: newc
URL: http://closedanger.blogspot.com

*SIGH* Scott they don’t want INSTABILITY, they want STABILITY all right, the stability of Iraq as a CLIENT State...are you so blind? They AREN’T our allies nor will they ever BE our allies, much less friends, so long as the current regimes are in place...
You are, quite simply, WRONG.

Of course they aren’t our allies — as I said, we may not be allies or friends, but we do have mutual interests. They would prefer a stable Iraq because violence there can spread regionally and can harm them. They want to have good relations with a stable Iraq.

Also, Syria and Iran have discussed a willingness to talk with the US and have not proclaimed themselves as our enemies, as you wrongly assert. In fact, even the Bush administration considered an alliance with Iran back before going to war with Afghanistan (the Taliban and Iran were near war a few times). Iran is a democracy, and the moderates had been making gains constantly since the revolution. The US placing Iran in the "axis of evil," and then attacking Iraq caused, especially among the youth, a backlash of nationalism in Iran which translated into an unprecedented high vote for the conservatives.

You seem to have a caricatured view of Iran and Syria, but states have interests, and you deal with them. Your view of Iran and Syria is similar to the view the right had about the Soviet Union and China before Nixon opened up relations with both of them. That opening was amazingly successful; within six years China was on the road to capitalist reforms (they are no longer a Communist state in terms of policy — their authoritarian state capitalism is much like early Taiwanese and South Korean post-war policy), and less than 20 years later the Cold War ended peacefully. Mao’s rhetoric was just as vehement as Ahmadinejad’s.

Smart politicians realize that states have interests, and even if you disagree, it makes sense to talk and see if mutual interests can lead to some agreements. It might not — but making the effort will allow one to know. Simply labeling regimes evil and giving ultimatums is pointless, especially given the relative impotence of the US in the region at this point.

Politics is the art of the possible.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Victory would be an Iraqi state that is stable in that it is not going to be toppled, and that is a US leaning country and not making WMD’s.

That doesn’t mean this state won’t face an insurgency for the next decade. See Sri Lanka, India, Colombia, for examples.

A lesser victory would lead to a Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Peru state of existence where the government is not very stable, but the insurgencies really cannot win either.


 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Scott,

While I sort of agree with you, I also wonder...

Iran is a democracy in the sense that every country now seems to hold elections...let me know when the stop arresting dissidents and people can run as anti-Islamists. Let’s not be self-delusional.

Your claim that labeling nations as evil hurts us, but then by the same token, Iran has been calling the USA the Great Satan for decades. It doesn’t seem to have hurt their negotiating power since you are arguing we should talk to them regardless. The main reason we label such countries as evil, is to put our domestic population on notice that these are serious enemies.

But you are 100% correct that we are now negotiating from weakness. We should have had a serious diplomatic offensive in 2003.

...on China

Great, we made China capitalist. Now they can afford better weapons and have more financial clout in the world. Yes, this probably is a good thing in some respects, but their economic strength translates them into a bigger threat than they were under Mao.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
The fallacy of assuming opponents to necessarily be Hitlerian is irrational and misguided.
I’ll expect you to say something the next time one of your fellow leftists draws that comparison to GWB.

Oh... of course, I’ll be holding my breath, too.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Somebody is going to have to define "stability" for me, how you recognize it, and why it is so desireable. It seems to me that North Korea is pretty stable. Are there degrees of stability? What happens when a "stable" country suddenly falls apart?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Joe: about Iran wanting instability read this article:
http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/fairenough/latimes564.html
Iran is a democracy in the sense that every country now seems to hold elections...let me know when the stop arresting dissidents and people can run as anti-Islamists. Let’s not be self-delusional.
Yes, it’s wrong to label them a full democracy, but I think they are a democracy in more ways than just having elections like even Saddam did — they have competitive elections, and in every election until 2004 the hardliner candidates lost. Reform had been real for over 20 years (life in Iran changed and liberalized), and one could imagine a progress over time to a full democracy. After all, we were not democratic at the outset — we had slavery and women couldn’t vote! Iran has women in the parliament.

They are not there yet — but they are more democratic than Egypt and any other state in the Mideast except Israel. They could be a model of Islamic democracy. But I’m afraid that the one casualty of the Iraq war might be Iranian progress — if the hardliners use their power now to increase their grip on power and cease the until now generally fair elections, things could go backward rather than forward. One reason I want us to talk with Iran is I think that the moderates actually end up helped when the US isn’t seen as some big bad bully out to get Iran.
Your claim that labeling nations as evil hurts us, but then by the same token, Iran has been calling the USA the Great Satan for decades. It doesn’t seem to have hurt their negotiating power since you are arguing we should talk to them regardless. The main reason we label such countries as evil, is to put our domestic population on notice that these are serious enemies.
Good point — axis of evil or Great Satan, who are they to complain? I do think their rhetoric has hurt them (and Khatami’s more positive rhetoric helped them) in terms of bringing the US to the table, so clearly the problems are not something one can simply blame on the US. I also think the hardliners benefit from bad relations with the US, they made things tough for Khatami when he was trying to improve the situation. They might completely stymie efforts if we talk now, though as the article cited above points out, they are afraid of a destablized Iraq and may find it in their interest to strike a deal with the Great Satan.
Great, we made China capitalist. Now they can afford better weapons and have more financial clout in the world. Yes, this probably is a good thing in some respects, but their economic strength translates them into a bigger threat than they were under Mao.
We’ll test the theory if interdependence and market economics makes war less likely or not. I suspect we might see a voluntary unification of Taiwan and China in 30 or 40 years as China liberalizes and follows economic rationality. But if the CCP decides it can’t shift towards real power sharing with economic actors (democracy is probably farther away for a variety of reasons), it could go in very bad directions — they could have internal conflict or project their problems outward.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
From http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/iraq_national_strategy_20051130.pdf, published a year ago: Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages
• Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones,
building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
• Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully
constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
• Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated.

If we’re going to do it right, it’ll be some level of involvement for at least 20 years.
 
Written By: RTO Trainer
URL: http://signaleer.blogspot.com

 
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