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I don't get this reaction at all. Why is behaviour which has taken place in many US prisons proof that the GOVERNMENT POLICY has failed? I want to see the perpetrators punished, although the press's glee in publishing may make prosecution more difficult. I also think that this has been a setback, neither the first nor the last, in Bush's apparent policy.

I say apparent, since he seldom discusses it; but it seems the grand strategy is to divide the Moslem Middle East. This worked well for Thebes against Sparta in the era of 350 BC, and has often worked well in other places and times. The biggest thing missing is probably the propaganda, but I would agree that a certain amount of force must be applied as well. I think we will continue to need military force in small parts of Iraq for some time, and that a judicious amount of leverage will have to be applied in the case of Iran as well. In the latter case some of the pluses are the apparent low popularity of the mullahs and the potential lever available via Russia's current involvement in the Iranian nuclear program. Dyadya Volodya needs to know that he personally will be held liable for any mischief the mullahs get into, and we should be able to offer some useful economic quid pro quo's as well.


I'll post a bit later in detail on this point. In short, I think you could see this coming.

Y'know, I wish the Administration had made a case like the one you cite. A friend of mine made a similar argument: the Iraq invasion was a worthwhile gamble because it could transform the political equation in the Middle East. We didn't seem to be getting anywhere, so why not change the rules of the game? Particularly, as you say, if we could start playing some of the parties off another.

Whatever merits the idea had, we've clearly hit two problems: (1) the US public--including, apparently, the Abu Ghraib interrogators--think the war was justified by some link between Iraq and 9/11; (2) the war doesn't look like it's going to be a glorious success any time soon, if ever. I wish the Bush Administration had respected the public's intelligence a bit more, if it thought that upsetting the apple cart in Middle East politics was the core rationale for the war. That case could have been made to the public--but the opportunity to do so is gone.


ad (1), the jury IMO is out on the validity of the link, but your are right that it certainly forms a significant part of the left's critique on the war.

ad (2), I am not sure what you are reading, but the way things are shaking out in Fallujah and with the Great Sadr Insurrection(TM) both suggest that we are doing fairly well. Remind me again how long we ran Germany and Japan before things got turned around there. (I know the cases are not similar - but you should give AT LEAST as much time to Iraq as we did to those two countries. And I am not alluding to the fact that we are still IN both those countries, just how long the real occupation lasted.)

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