Day By Day

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ralph Peters on the Phoney "Civil War"; The Challenge We Face

He writes:

What actually happened last week, as the prophets of doom in the media prematurely declared civil war?

* The Iraqi army deployed over 100,000 soldiers to maintain public order. U.S. Forces remained available as a backup, but Iraqi soldiers controlled the streets.

* Iraqi forces behaved with discipline and restraint - as the local sectarian outbreaks fizzled, not one civilian had been killed by an Iraqi soldier.

* Time and again, Iraqi military officers were able to defuse potential confrontations and frustrate terrorist hopes of igniting a religious war.

* Forty-seven battalions drawn from all 10 of Iraq's army divisions took part in an operation that, above all, aimed at reassuring the public. The effort worked - from the luxury districts to the slums, the Iraqis were proud of their army.

AS a result of its nationwide success, the Iraqi army gained tremendously in confidence. Its morale soared. After all the lies and exaggerations splashed in your direction, the truth is that we're seeing a new, competent, patriotic military emerge. The media may cling to its image of earlier failures, but last week was a great Iraqi success.

Read it here.

Peters may be too optimistic. There is still a tough row to hoe in Iraq, but he at least has the virtue of viewing Iraq as it is, not through the distorting lens of the Vietnam War.


Wretchard at the Belmont Club is finally beginning to understand what the administration is up to in Iraq. Responding to Robert "The Sky Is Falling" Kaplan’s observation that the Saddam regime, for all its faults, at least kept domestic order and that the US has not yet been able to do so, he responds at length, arguing that the civilized world must in the near future confront anarchy on a global, rather than just a regional, scale.

The problem is not just Iraq. In a globalized system anarchy is a problem for all, and we must develop ways of dealing with it. The Bush administration in Iraq, Wretchard notes, “is learning how to use force to allow indigenous order to emerge.” That, I would argue is precisely the right course to follow, and the one to which the administration has been committed from the beginning. [read the whole thing here]

The realist course, of just acting in defense of vital national interests, whatever virtues it might have had during the long stasis of the Cold War, is inadequate to the problems of a world, major regions of which are spinning into chaos. So, too, is the imperialist course, advocated by many European commentators, in which the US would intervene and administer regions of the earth for he benefit of all. Bush, to his credit, has rejected both these fantasies and set upon the hard course of actually developing a response that is appropriate to the situation in which we now find ourselves.

In Iraq we are learning, finally and in the face of determined opposition from fantasists both domestic and foreign, just how to deal effectively with the great challenge that faces us in the Middle East, in Africa, and elsewhere around the world.

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