Monday, January 30, 2006

The Isolationist Myth

Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch thinks we should pull out of Iraq and stay home, spending our money on nuclear power plants. That's a false choice, based on bad data.

(Note: the Blogspot editor is broken, so the clips aren't italicized).

UPDATE 1/31, problem is fixed and now italics are back & I've tidied up the post.

The contributors to Jihad Watch, including Fitzgerald, do a good job tracking the Jihadists - I'll add the site to my blogroll when I next upgrade it. But - perhaps out of disillusionment at the Palestinian elections - Fitzgerald now recommends the isolationist plan -
cut and run. Here are his false facts.

Myth 1: The US Army In Iraq Is Broken
We have a citizen-army that is rapidly degrading in size and quality, given that few people are being recruited. We have Humvees, Bradley fighting vehicles, helicopters, planes -- all of them overworked, and degraded prematurely in the desert of the Land of the Two Rivers, Iraq.
Actually war improves armies - as our parents and grandparents found in Vietnam, Korea & WW2, combat weeds out weak people, equipment and tactics.

The claim that few people are being recruited is lefty spin, here are the facts (as opposed to comment) from the Boston Globe:

U.S. Army leaders on Monday said there was no crisis in recruitment despite figures showing a big shortfall in new soldiers in the latest fiscal year, partly caused by concerns over the war in Iraq. In the fiscal year that ended on...(Sept 30, 2005) the Army ended just under 7,000 recruits short of its annual goal of 80,000 recruits.

(The Army Secretary said) "Over the last 10 years the average recruiting number is about 74,200. Our final numbers are about 73,200 to 73,300, so we're about 1,000, or one percent, off our average recruits for the last 10 years..."

Gen. Richard Cody, the Army's No. 2 general, noted that while recruiting new soldiers remained a challenge, the Army was more successful at convincing current soldiers to stay on, with reenlistment topping the Army's annual goal by 8 percent.

"Degradation in the desert sand" is fantasy - the Brits won a 3 year desert war against the Germans in WW2 - over 50 years ago - by successfully "desertizing" men, tanks, guns and airplanes. All machines have a hard time in the desert, but they're now designed for that, and the US has fielded some spectacularly successful new equipment, for example the Stryker with its anti-RPG slatting.

The fighting men aren't being degraded either -
less soldiers are being killed and injured:

In 2004, American troops suffered 8,837 casualties in Iraq (ten percent fatal). In 2005, casualties declined by 23 percent, to 6,785 (12 percent fatal). That didn't make the news because the number of American dead remained about the same.

Myth 2: The US Can Either Fight Or Invest. Not Both

We have a certain amount of money to spend. The money spent in Iraq might instead be spent on an energy program to deprive the Saudis and Ahmadinejad and others of the wherewithal that is critical to the Jihad -- are you quite sure that the $300 billion spent in Iraq would not have been better spent on solar and wind projects, and on nuclear reactors

Actually, the US can fight multiple wars while building those nuclear power plants - Iraq is a small and inexpensive war - here's the data from Jerry Bowyer of NRO, hat tip Mark In Mexico:

Myth 3: Iraq Is Just About WMD

Would we have invaded Iraq)…if we knew three years ago what we know now about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs?

All we actually know is that we haven’t found WMD, and since Saddam had 12 months to hide them and two terror states to hide them in, that’s not surprising.

But what if it was all a ruse and he never had any WMD? Does that justify withdrawal? Surely that depends on the consequences - an army that withdraws in the face of the enemy is technically termed “defeated”, and its opponents “victorious”.

Victory energizes the victor and demoralizes the defeated – that’s why the once-formidable Germans and Japanese are now so well behaved. The US took 20 years to recover from its defeat in Vietnam, can it afford to give the Jihadists 20 years of victory? I don't think so.

Myth 4: Democracy Is Too Difficult For Muslims

That enemy is not "poverty" and it is not the absence of democracy. We have "democracy" in Iran and look who won; we have "democracy" in the Palestinian Authority and look who just won. Real "democracy" in Lebanon would be fatal to the Maronites. Real "democracy" in Syria would bring down the Alawites and replace them with "real" Muslims.

As Churchill observed, democracy is the least bad form of governance. That why the US founders took over 10 years to figure out all checks and balances to minimize factionalism and the tyranny of the majority. And even under the US Constitution, most of the current opposition party is working for defeat in Iraq.

Iranians voted for just 6 candidates after 1,000 were excluded – that’s not democracy. The Palestinians voted in a bunch of terrorists because their constitution doesn’t stop terrorists standing. That was foolish, and may cost them support, but it’s no different to the Northern Irish nationalists electing terrorists. They got what they wanted, and will now have to live with the consequences.

I wouldn’t guess on what will happen in the Lebanon, Syria, and for that matter Iraq. At least Iraq has a well designed constitution, which is why the pols for the 3 different groups are squabbling about who does what. Of course like most parts of the world outside the Anglosphere it’s low trust and corrupt. But so are Greece and Italy, are they so bad?

Myth 5: Passivity Is A Winning Strategy

The venture in Iraq at this point can only be turned to Infidel advantage if, in the spirit of divide-and-conguer, the Americans leave, and let the natural fissures widen – naturally.

If the Americans had used that logic in 1945, I’d be writing this in Russian - if at all. Divide and rule – the policy followed by the Brits until WW1 – requires focused action, like Iraq, not inaction.

Myth 6: We Can Defeat Jihad Wihout Fighting It

Jihad is worldwide, and is central, not tangential, to Islam. This does not require "boots on the ground" here and there and everywhere. Not at all. It requires diminishing Muslim oil revenues. It requires mass education of Infidels, including persistent mockery of the press for not dealing truthfully with the tenets of Islam. Infidels should be moving heaven and earth to split, demoralize, constrain, and tie up the forces of that Jihad. Iraq is the perfect place to do it -- and in that case, without even lifting a finger. In fact, by simply putting that finger down altogether, and leaving.

Building nuke plants is highly desirable and can be done without a cent of government money - just less regulation. It won’t diminish Muslim oil revenues much since China and India will take up the slack, but it will reduce US exposure to blackmail.

Encouraging civil wars is daft – they just lead to piles of dead innocents and a single victor – in this case probably Iran.

Of course our societies must constrain Islam immigrants to respect our values, but that gets harder if we run from battle, not easier. Conversely, if they fear us in their homelands, it's more likely that immigrants from those lands will respect our laws.

So, in spite of the cost, we have no alternative but to fight our enemies.