The Commissar: Iraq was a mistake

It’s times like these I wish the right had a bratty little jackass to excommunicate dissenters a la Peretz and Zengerle.

As it is, I guess we’ll have to politely hear him out and consider his argument.

The nut graf:

We like to think of ourselves as rational people. We all have a certain amount of pride and face invested in our suport of President Bush. And I, for one, loathe the strident, frequently bizarre and hate-filled rhetoric of many Democrats. But these are essentially emotional reasons. Even if we voted for Bush twice, supported the war in Iraq, and cannot abide the Moonbats, these are no reasons to deny the plain facts we face:

Our actions in Iraq have resulted in a civil war that we cannot control.

Such is his despair that he’s gone ahead and sketched out a partition proposal replete with maps.

Was the war a mistake? The Commissar calculates that Iraqis are dying at about the same rate now as they were under Saddam — a queasy fact, but one which ignores Hussein’s various regional “externalities.” Maybe he would have sat idly by while Iran moved its nuke program into overdrive, but I kind of doubt it; either way, I’m glad the point remains hypothetical. And while it’s cynical to say that Iraqis warring with each other is “better” than them warring with the rest of the Middle East, it’s no more cynical than believing it’s “better” to have an Arab Stalin in power to check the local belligerents than to risk instability by trying to force a new paradigm. That’s the de facto position of most of the anti-war crowd, which is actually easy to forget amid all the carping about the administration’s incompetence. To read them sometimes, you’d think the left was gung ho for democracy until Bush’s and Rummy’s bungling soured them on the mission. Tain’t so. Have a look at the Jawa Report’s transcript of Maliki’s speech and note which passage Medea Benjamin took as her cue to start heckling him. It speaks volumes.

The question isn’t so much whether the war is a mistake, I think, than whether it’s a failure. I’m loath to call any campaign a “mistake” that replaced a country which paid pensions to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers with a country whose leader describes it as the “front line” in the war on terror and which celebrates the killing of Al Qaeda capos as quasi-national holidays. If your business is remaking Islam’s political culture, you can do worse than that. But if that’s our business — and it is — we’re painting on a much bigger canvas than Iraq itself; Iraq is, as the saying goes, merely the Model for the rest of the Middle East, a would-be bastion of liberty, security, and prosperity that’ll inspire oppressed peoples throughout the region to topple their fascisti and embrace democracy.

Unless, of course, the cost of democracy is made prohibitive by violence.

That’s what the terrorism is about, that’s why it was focused mostly on Iraqis instead of the American occupiers, and that’s why Zarqawi was so intent on inciting civil war. Every car bomb in Baghdad is a fish on the doorstep of reformers in Syria and Iran. If the choice is between being hauled off without charge to one of Bashar Assad’s dungeons and being afraid to leave your home under a popularly elected regime, why not take your chances with Bashar?

And here’s the important point: no matter what happens with Iraq now, the jihadis have already succeeded in sending that message. Even if the country does somehow magically emerge down the line as a butterfly, people will remember this chrysalis stage for a long, long time.

Is it time to use the F-word? Or have I missed something?

Clarification: The Commissar e-mails to say that “The occupation has been a failure. I was quite deliberately agnostic about the war itself.”