Monday, August 25, 2003

Generational conflict
Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan plead for a generational committment in The Weekly Standard, criticizing the administration for skimping on Iraq's rebuilding, and calling on the powers that be to enlist more manpower in the reconstruction. Kristol and Kagan write:

Until recently, only a handful of State Department employees have been at work in Iraq. The State Department, we gather, has had a difficult time attracting volunteers to work in Iraq. This is understandable. But it is unacceptable. If the administration is serious about drawing an analogy with the early Cold War years, it should remember that the entire U.S. government oriented itself then to the new challenge. We need to do the same now. The administration must insist that the State Department pull its weight. Indeed, we need to deploy diplomats and civil servants, hire contract workers, and mobilize people and resources in an urgent and serious way. Business as usual is not acceptable. Getting the job done in Iraq is our highest priority, and our government needs to treat it as such.

Mind you, K & K don't have any suggestions about how exactly the administration might attract American men and women to suffer in 125-degree heat for the privilege of being blown up by the Iraqi resistance. They just think it's "unacceptabe." As I've said before, I'm not in favor of immediately pulling the U.S. army out of Iraq and abandoning the country to whatever forces are organized enough to step up and run the place, but I'm not convinced that Iraq should become the great quest of my generation, either. It doesn't help that the leader of the free world can hardly string together a coherent sentence (did anyone else see his abysmal performance during the blackout?), let alone talk young people into voluntarily putting their lives on the line for a dubious cause halfway across the globe.

The problem isn't that the State Department "isn't pulling its weight." It's that we have too few soldiers in a hostile country teeming with armed militants, fighting a war that wasn't necessary in the first place, which is now attracting combatants from all over the Muslim world. It's that the President sold this war as an easy, unavoidable victory over terrorism, when in fact it was a war of choice against a country that was, at most, a peripheral player in international terrorism and a minor threat to its neighbors and the United States. If the Kristols and Kagans of this world think that securing Iraq without the United Nations is so important that thousands of young Americans need to sacrifice their lives in the years to come, they better hope that the President finds the backbone to level with the public about the costs and consequences of this audacious project. Personally, I think the Milwaukee Brewers will celebrate a World Series title before George W. Bush asks Americans to make real sacrifices for this foolish war.


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