Monday, February 12, 2007

Success In Iraq

I like war, when the war is worthy. In fact, I'd even say I love it. To quote my favourite columnist, David Warren, "When there is a war to fight, and no alternative to fighting it, you bet I am a war-monger. The sooner we have destroyed the enemy, the sooner we can get back to sucking our thumbs."

Now, I don't love war in the sense that I enjoy seeing mutilated soldiers or families crushed by the loss of a loved one or in the ever-present and always devastating friendly-fire or civilian casualties. These things are tragic, and basic human dignity demands that we must seek to end war if for no other reason than to reduce human suffering of this nature.

But then I think of the Unknown Soldier, lying in his cold, urine-soaked grave beneath the National War Memorial in Ottawa. This young man, killed at Vimy Ridge in World War I, likely suffered as he died. Perhaps he even had thoughts about the futility of violence, or regretted his decision to enlist. Or perhaps - and I'd wager this is more likely, given the higher moral fibre of that generation - he roused himself for one last push after the fatal wound, sealing his fate, and added his to the voices to the dead who had gone before him: "You must be stopped!"

Iraq gets a lot of bad press. But I heard bits of a good interview (listen to part 2) on CBC Radio's The Current this morning. Barry Lando, a Canadian writer and documentary maker, has written a book about Iraq's history with the West, and he explained how the various British, French, and American administrations have over the past several decades led Iraq straight into where it is right now.

A lot of people unfairly pin the problems in Iraq on George W. Bush. But he's caught in a difficult situation: cleaning up after not only the Clinton administration before him, but every Western powerhouse's government going back generations. This is the same irony that produced Osama bin Laden as a CIA-trained terrorist; at various points in time certain administrations thought it would be good to send Iraq in one direction through subtle political pressures, but with the election of a new government, the direction reverses. Suddenly you've got this madman Hussein in charge of the country - and yes, the Americans pretty much put him there - and you've got to do something about it.

So the problem with the Middle East is that everybody has a solution.

You know, monarchy has its downsides, but at least you'd end up with a fairly consistent foreign policy for decades or centuries at a time. None of this wobbling back and forth, causing your neighbour states to vomit all over you as if you have them on a circus ride.

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