hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, November 12, 2004
comment on winds of change:

I was not pro-war, but is defining what failure means all that important in Iraq? Whatever failure is, we can't allow it. There is too much at stake. William Burton early on in the post-war said no one should care whether they were pro or anti war. It simply didn't matter any more. Salam Pax said the same. That said, it probably is important to develop objective measures of the situation in Iraq, but that's somewhat different than developing objective measures of whether invading Iraq was the right decision.

FWIW, here was my take when I read the dismal WSJ report:

Something is not adding up here. After things like the blowing up of 30 children, How is it possible for an average Iraqi to support the insurgents? The New York Times had an article on an Iraqi talk radio station, and without exception every caller said that the insurgents were terrorists, not freedom fighters. The Iraqi bloggers are surprisingly positive, even Salam Pax who was against the war when it started. Young Iraqi men are still lining up to join the Iraqi police and national guard.

David Brook's last column was wrong on specifics but right in principle. The first thing we need in Iraq are legitimate Iraqi leaders, trusted by the Iraqi people. The way to get that is to hold elections ASAP. I think the elections should be for 6 month terms only, so any mistakes can be corrected quickly. As for the abysmal security situation precluding holding elections, well the security situation is already FUBAR so how can holding elections make them any worse? At least people will be dying for the cause of democracy, rather than the cause of Alawi.

Once we have legitimate Iraqi leaders in place, then all our military might and and humanitarian efforts has to be deployed in the service of their agenda, not ours.

Whether your goal is to make Iraq a shining example to the rest of the Mideast, or to salvage the best of a bad situation, the path forward seems clear: Find out who the truly legitimate leaders in Iraq are, and then give them all the principled help we can in order to help them achieve their legitimate goals in service of the Iraqi people. Which makes you wonder why the Administration has spent the last 18 months trying to install puppets, rather than trying to find legitimate, trusted Iraqi leaders.

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