Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 30, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

WORSE THAN SADDAM?....I had lunch with a friend yesterday who bemoaned the chaos in Iraq and suggested that Iraqis were worse off than they were before the war. "You can't really get much worse than Saddam Hussein," I argued, but he just shook his head. He wasn't convinced.

When I got home, though, I saw that the British Foreign Affairs Select Committee pretty much agrees with him. The culprit, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, is that despite lots of high-minded talk coming out of Washington and London, nobody seems to genuinely care enough about democracy and nation building to produce both a workable plan and the resources to pull it off:

"There is a real danger if these resources are not provided soon that Afghanistan -- a fragile state in one of the most sensitive and volatile regions of the world -- could implode, with terrible consequences," the committee says in its report.

....On Iraq, the committee concluded that Al Qaeda had turned Iraq into a "battleground" with appalling consequences for the country's people.

[Committee chairman Donald Anderson] warned that the consequences of not ensuring peace and normality in Iraq "may be a failed state and regional instability."

Which is worse, a rogue state or a failed state? That gets deep into the heart of foreign policy wonkery, but it's certainly not obvious that my friend is wrong. If Iraq does turn into a failed state, it would most likely be a lot more dangerous to the U.S. than it was when Saddam was in charge.

Which is why, regardless of whether or not you opposed the war, it's critically important to succeed or at least not fail utterly in Iraq now that we're there. If Iraq turns into another Sudan, we really are in big trouble.

Of course, this begs the question: can John Kerry's multilateralist view of how to handle Iraq succeed? Juan Cole breaks it down and suggests a way that it might. Take a look.

Kevin Drum 1:59 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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