Wobbly Pipes

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"These are valid reasons not to pull out," Daniel Pipes writes, "but they lose their pertinence if one expects, as I do, that the mission in Iraq will end in failure." Pipes' new pessimism comes with a proposal: "Take coalition forces off their patrols of city streets and away from protecting buildings, and put them in desert bases," let the Iraqi governing council form a government, and reduce the role of L. Paul Bremer III.

This sort of strategic reversal is not a new thing for Pipes, whose 1987 article "Back Iraq: It's Time for a U.S. Tilt" in The New Republic (co-authored with Laurie Mylroie) called Saddam's Iraq "the de facto protector of the regional status quo." But I think this shift leaves a pretty big question unanswered:

What would this withdrawal leave behind? You may or may not believe the occupation is going well (and even through the haze of Peter Jennings' calls for worldwide jihad and the death-to-America fatwas regularly issued by the Crescent News Network and the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation, I get the impression it's going better than any prudent person had reason to expect). But some issues still stand out: Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, the most important political figure in Iraq, was assassinated. So was Abdul Majid al Khoei, the most pro-western cleric. Muqtada al Sadr, the man who probably killed both of them, is said to be now the most popular leader in Sadr City. The people who are killing American soldiers at a fairly steady clip are, I'd guess, not likely to beat their swords into plowshares in the face of an American withdrawal. Nor are those storied Werewolves and Dead Enders (even without the ever-popular Huntz Hall) likely to be cowed by the martial figure of Ahmed Chalabi. Is this really the time to start talking about Vietnamization of the conflict?

NEXT: A Woman's Choice?

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  1. Crescent News Network? Quaint. I had no idea Reason had a village idiot.

  2. [warsie] Ah well, that’s what you’d expect from a panty-waisted liberal Saddam-lover like Pipes. He probably does macram? on the weekends with that limp-wristed America-hater Pat Buchanan and that defeatist ivory-tower cosmopolite George Will. [/warsie]

  3. The tone and content of this “Hit & Run” entry are surprisingly shrill and silly for a Reason writer. I look to the magazine for insight, not for rants.

  4. So many labels. So little content.

  5. About the time of Gulf War 1, just after the war ended IIRC, Reason published a loony screed ranting against “the massed Jew-haters of the Middle East”. The writer never made it clear just who he meant, but my best guess was the entire Arab population, plus the Iranians. Anyway, my reaction was that if Reason is going to publish crap like this, it should change its name.

    I’m having the same thought.

  6. Pipes is mostly right.
    Getting US troops out of the faces of Iraqis is right. Keeping too many of them there to do useless stuff like border patrolling is wrong.

    As an anarchist, I have no confidence in any organization, but , least of all, gummint.

    So in Iraq we have a gummint, the US, trying to build a gummint!!! Whufo? How come?
    A gummint building a gummint is a pool combination shot that has never hit the side pocket.

    How can any Reason reader not join Pipes in expecting failure big time?

    There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
    I’m a Vietnam veteran by the way… Marine infantry officer.

  7. Andrew Lynch wrote: “So many labels. So little content.”

    You seem to have missed that my original post was a parody.

  8. “…I get the impression it’s going better than any prudent person had reason to expect”

    Do you then exclude George W. Bush as a prudent person, as he underestimated the cost of the war (as reflected in his original supplemental spending request) by 50%? And, whose every timetable for returning troops to the US has come and gone, with tours only being extended?

  9. A gummint building a gummint is a pool combination shot that has never hit the side pocket.

    How can any Reason reader not join Pipes in expecting failure big time?

    There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
    I’m a Vietnam veteran by the way… Marine infantry officer.

    Thanks for your service.

    The time to think about all this was eight months ago, before the United States committed itself to the combination shot. Right now, an American withdrawal would leave Iraq in complete chaos, vulnerable to the most vile fanatics on the face of the earth, and without any authority strong enough to maintain order. I didn’t think the war was a good idea, and was called many names for saying so many times; but we’re well past that. The point now is that Iraq is the responsibility of the U.S., and this is no time for Pipes or any of the other erstwhile warmongers to start griping about how nutty Muslims are. (Pipes in particular, who has spent a lifetime chronicling Muslim nuttiness, has no right to affect surprise on this point.) A mongoloid could have predicted that there would be trouble in postwar Iraq, but 70 percent of the American population thought it was worth the war anyway. At this point, it’s completely immoral to start yelping Stop, I wanna get off.

    The facetious parenthetical was off-topic, but the point, which I thought was pretty obvious, is that for Bush or his fanboys to blame CNN or the BBC for not being optimistic enough is both dickless and ballless. If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, blaming the media is the first.

  10. Well put, Tim.

  11. The time to think about this was eight months ago . . .

    I was thinking about it two years ago. In the post 9-11 debates, I warned of the consequences of going after “state sponsors”.

    Right now, an American withdrawal would leave Iraq in complete chaos . . .

    Thank you, Amazing Kreskin.

    The occupation forces have been actively preventing the Iraqis from forming local governments or otherwise dealing with the security issues in their own ways. It’s not impossible that things would improve after a U.S. withdrawal.

    Supposing a withdrawal would have bad consequences for Iraq, my mind flies to Vietnam. Withdrawing had bad consequences there, but putting it off for years didn’t make them better. It just got lots of Americans killed.

    . . . Muslim nuttiness . . .

    I’m not convinced Muslims are on the whole any nuttier than any other people. I also don’t think it’s nutty for someone to make the supreme sacrifice defending his people against foreign domination.

    . . . it’s comletely immoral . . .

    Thank you, Moses. Or is it Kant?

    . . . the point, which I thought was pretty obvious . . .

    Not at all obvious. You sounded like Ann Coulter, with no sign you didn’t mean it.

    . . . dickless and ballless . . .

    Why the vulgarity? Are you trying to be cool, or tough? To me you just sound like a junior-high drop-out.

    . . . any prudent person had reason to expect . . .

    Prudent people had reason to expect that graduates of West Point had some idea of how to occupy a country.

  12. Tim’s parenthetical about the press is just barely beyond what I’ve read on NRO and LGF, so I’m not entirely sure it’s parody.

    It’s so hard to keep up.

  13. In re Mr. Cavanaugh and others’ claims that we should all just shut up about whether attacking Iraq was prudent because it’s irrelevant, I would say that in fact it’s quite important. The same men who sold us the Iraq war are still pushing for wars on Syria and Iran, largely recycling the same rhetoric they used to describe Iraq. (See, e.g., Richard Perle boasting last week that invading Syria would be easy; every other column of Michael Leeden’s claiming that the Iranian people are on the verge of overthrowing their regime and just need a liiiiitttttllllllle help from the US; etc.)

  14. Agreed, Jack, the wisdom of invading Iraq is relevant for judging future Bush initiatives. But it is irrelevant in figuring out what to do from here in Iraq. Whether we should be there or not…well, we are. Now we have to dig ourselves out.

  15. I just read the whole list of responses to the original hit & run piece. I thought the hit & run piece was very tongue in cheek and very entertaining.

    I think going into Iraq was the right thing to do. Sooner or later we were going to have to go to war with Iraq. Sooner was better than later, specially after 911, and the wrong message that was sent to our enemies after the Somalia fiasco.

    I also think that whether or not it was right to go to Iraq in the first place, we are now responsible for what happens to the Iraqi people. The best thing we can do is to try to set up a government for the Iraqi’s to govern themselves. “Gummint trying to build a gummint” (though if you can contract that out to a civilian outfit…by all means). The worst thing we can do is to pull out and let a militant minority rule by fear Taliban style. That militant minority, such as the one that was the Taliban and the one that rules in Iran, would undoutedly become our enemy and would end up at war with us again.

  16. I just read the whole list of responses to the original hit & run piece. I thought the hit & run piece was very tongue in cheek and very entertaining.

    I think going into Iraq was the right thing to do. Sooner or later we were going to have to go to war with Iraq. Sooner was better than later, specially after 911, and the wrong message that was sent to our enemies after the Somalia fiasco.

    I also think that whether or not it was right to go to Iraq in the first place, we are now responsible for what happens to the Iraqi people. The best thing we can do is to try to set up a government for the Iraqi’s to govern themselves. “Gummint trying to build a gummint” (though if you can contract that out to a civilian outfit…by all means). The worst thing we can do is to pull out and let a militant minority rule by fear Taliban style. That militant minority, such as the one that was the Taliban and the one that rules in Iran, would undoutedly become our enemy and would end up at war with us again.

  17. I think that going to Iraq is out of question too. It was the high time for this.
    Setting up a government is a good choice though it will not be able to cope with the situation without a help.

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