A&L links to a Bartle Bull’s Mission Accomplished in Prospect; the essay, one not surprising in its conclusions given much that we read by those on the ground and those just-returned, demonstrates in the comments how the war continues to be played out and will be interpreted by many. It doesn’t say much about the level of such arguments but is also unsurprising that the first response is that the writer must be well-paid by the right. That this is an immediate response on the day when an editorial about the role of the AEI appears in the Wall Street Journal, forthrightly stating the positions of that particular think tank, and that Google withdraws any anti-Move-on ads from its site (Instapundit link) helps us understand who believes in transparency and who doesn’t. That such a comment is not an unusual form of argument is reinforced by another commentator who feels he must know whether Bull is pro or anti-Bush before he can appropriately judge. That these modes of thinking prevail among certain groups indicates the values of the Enlightenment have not sunk very far into the thinking of modern readers.
Below are a couple of paragraphs from the Bull’s Prospect article.
Summary of the positives:
The great question in deciding whether to keep fighting in Iraq is not about the morality and self-interest of supporting a struggling democracy that is also one of the most important countries in the world. The question is whether the war is winnable and whether we can help the winning of it. The answer is made much easier by the fact that three and a half years after the start of the insurgency, most of the big questions in Iraq have been resolved. Moreover, they have been resolved in ways that are mostly towards the positive end of the range of outcomes imagined at the start of the project. The country is whole. It has embraced the ballot box. It has created a fair and popular constitution. It has avoided all-out civil war. It has not been taken over by Iran. It has put an end to Kurdish and marsh Arab genocide, and anti-Shia apartheid. It has rejected mass revenge against the Sunnis. As shown in the great national votes of 2005 and the noisy celebrations of the Iraq football team’s success in July, Iraq survived the Saddam Hussein era with a sense of national unity; even the Kurds—whose reluctant commitment to autonomy rather than full independence is in no danger of changing—celebrated. Iraq’s condition has not caused a sectarian apocalypse across the region. The country has ceased to be a threat to the world or its region. The only neighbours threatened by its status today are the leaders in Damascus, Riyadh and Tehran.
As one of the commentators notes, this is much more from the Shia angle than the Sunni, and his treatment of the al-Sadr policies demonstrates:
Muqtada al-Sadr’s announcement of a unilateral six-month ceasefire on 29th August was significant, but not for the reasons most apparent. Al-Sadr actually stopped fighting the Americans three years ago. He rose up against them twice in 2004, but since the end of his second uprising, his Mahdi army has focused its violence on Wahhabis and Baathists, with frequent clashes against other Shia factions. Al-Sadr’s movement is splintered and immature. Its less legitimate fringes have been active in sectarian cleansing. Many who do have ties to his movement frequently work beyond his control. Some of these tendencies continue to direct violence against the coalition, but this is negligible compared to the force of a true Sadrist resistance, as anyone who was in Najaf or Sadr City in 2004 will attest. Since this spring, US troops have been comfortably based in Sadr City—the giant Baghdad slum that is the power base of the Sadrists.