Iraqi Dead Man's Switch

I was thinking on the airplane today about how to categorize our current situation in Iraq.  Its hard to draw exact conclusions about where we are there, because I don't think anyone is giving the whole story.  I am willing to believe that we have done a better job than the media has portrayed of rebuilding infrastructure and schools and wells and all that stuff, though at a horrendous cost.  I am also willing to believe that the Bush administration is downplaying crucial problems of factionalism and tribalism that they grossly underestimated before getting involved there.

My fear is that we have turned Iraq into a big dead man's switch, with the US army's finger on the button to keep things from blowing.  My fear, and I think a lot of people share it, is that as soon as we leave, and take our finger off that figurative switch, the whole place is going to blow up.  And, to overextend the metaphor, I can't see what the US is doing or can do to disarm the thing.  Its a lose-lose, as far as I can see, with a costly long-term occupation leaving us open to the "imperialism" meme on one hand, and reduced long-term credibility on the other, with a pull-out letting future allies and enemies alike know that there is a point at which we give up.  Its back to the old Wargames conclusion:  "Strange game -- the only winning move is not to play."


  1. TDM:

    Saddam created the dead man's switch long before we got there. Saddam genocided and displaced the Shias and Kurds and amplified each groups hatred of the others. Saddam was also radicalizing the Sunnis, creating the 'Mother of all Battles' and other masques and writing the Koran in his own blood. Saddam created the dead man's switch and had his finger on it, and Iraq would have blown up if his dynasty had ever lost power. What happened in Rwanda would be unacceptable in a nation with a history of WMD programs.

    Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and most of the Middle East may also be switches. The big problem is that the status-quo is a minefield of switches where Islamic Supremacists could take over if any regime loses power. It is only a matter of time before one of them does blows up. We lose the game if we do not play.

    We can win. Non-extremists are winning free elections and the military is already much better than most third world countries, just not good enough yet.

  2. Jim:

    "Strange game -- the only winning move is not to play."

    Hum. I think the no play option is not an option. As TDM notes; we lose if we don't play.

    However we can choose the playing field there or here. Since we've been there no attacks have been succesful on US soil, can France, Spain, England, Turkey, etc., say the same?

  3. Bob Smith:

    The problem with rebuilding in Iraq is that Iraq is an Islamic nation. Islam teaches that receiving riches from infidels isn't a gift, it's their right to receive such. Iraqis aren't *grateful* we're helping them; how can you be grateful to receive that which is yours by right? The horror of Saddam isn't that he was killing people; Muslims don't appear to have much moral objection to killing people and if we weren't imposing order on Iraq the bloodshed would (IMO) be as great as anything Saddam ever did. The horror of Saddam is that he was a secular leader, running a secular government. Accordingly, the first item of the new Iraqi constitution says that Islamic (Sharia) law is now supreme. Civilization and human rights, as the west sees it, are incompatible with Sharia law. If Iraqis seriously intend to obey their constitution, any apparent improvement in human rights in Iraq will be short lived.