Thursday, August 25, 2005

Iraq: More circular alliances?

Tom Hayden suggests developing an anti-war alliance between the old-school liberals and the isolationist right:

William Buckley and Pat Buchanan are against this war, along with a silent minority in the armed forces. New converts include representatives like Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who once called for re-naming the French fry the “freedom fry.” Having become deeply disturbed by the funerals in his district, Jones has decided to co-author with Democrats a bill calling for a 2006 withdrawal timetable.

The problem I see is that each group would favor very different manners of disengagement, based on differing perceptions of what sustains the cycle of violence. Liberals by and large think that our very presence is what prompts violence against our 'occupying army', so they would conclude that rapid withdrawal of our troops and limited peacekeeping would be the most stablizing strategy. Isolationist conservatives are more likely to believe that individual looting and Islamist ideology fan most of the flames, so that without adequate security forces, Iraq will be another Somalia. They would favor handing off gradually to the Europeans or even the Russians--just find someone else to take over to keep the region (and our oil supply) from falling apart.

These may seem like superficial differences of vision, but in practice as the particulars of any potential political alliance are drawn up I would forsee an amplification of disagreement to permit the 'cautious' middle to follow through with continued stabilization and gradual disengagement. Whether that's the correct strategy is moot--it will be dictated by political reality.

Hat tip to Centerfield.


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