2007 June 30 Saturday
Andrew Bacevich Wants To Import Millions Of Iraqis
Andrew J. Bacevich has an essay in the (otherwise usually reasonable) Christian Science Monitor arguing that we should let in massive numbers of Iraqi refugees: What America owes the Iraqis: Offering sanctuary is a good start.
Americans, wrote Robert Kagan and William Kristol in September 2004, "have a profound moral obligation to the Iraqi people." In this one instance, the two well-known neoconservatives got it exactly right. Today we confront the question of how best to acquit that obligation.
The correct response to all radical neoconservative claims: Figure out which false assumptions and errors in logic they used to get to their conclusions.
Bacevich assumes we have moral obligations to people who are very hostile toward us. Never mind that our attempts at help elicit mostly roadside bombs and sniper attacks.
How, if at all, can the US discharge its obligations not only to the people of Iraq but to our own soldiers as well?
Which people of Iraq does Bacevich speak of? The Sunnis who overwhelmingly believe that Sunnis should rule over Shias? Or the Shia majority who overwhelmingly believe that the Shias should rule over the Sunnis? And among the Shias do we have more obligations to? The Shias who follow Muslim cleric Sadr or those who follow the religious party SCIRI?
Perhaps Bacevich imagines there are massive volunteer Iraqi Freedom Brigades fighting to protect the religious rights of Christians and for the equality of women. How else can one conclude that there is a group in Iraq who we both owe something to and who would make good American citizens?
At various times, the Bush administration has described US strategy in Iraq this way: As they stand up, we will stand down. At present, a more apt formulation is this one: As we depart, they can come along. To Iraqis seeking to escape the brutality and chaos that we have helped create, the "golden door" into the New World should open. Call it Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
If freedom was important to Iraqis (i.e. if their moral code was similar to ours) then the Iraqis could conduct their own Operation Iraqi Freedom by taking up arms en masse to hunt down and kill the tribal and religious and criminal factions that are fighting for power in Iraq. But freedom does not move the Iraqi people to make sacrifices on the field of battle. No, they are motivated by their conflicting interpretations of the Koran and their family ties from the practice of consanguineous marriage. They are motivated by their desire to make each other submit to their will. Islam gives them the model of submission as core to all human relations and this idea is not compatible with Western freedoms.
Bacevich must really hate his fellow Americans.
How many Iraqis will accept this invitation is impossible to say. In all probability, they will number in the millions.
How lunatic. If millions of Iraqis are sufficiently ardent lovers of freedom that they are compatible with American society then why aren't they all out there in millions on the streets of Baghdad hunting down and killing the religious and tribal militias? If millions of Iraqis were ardent lovers of freedom then the forces of theocratic repression and tribal score settling wouldn't stand a chance and the civil war in Iraq would already be over. But the reality is that freedom-lovers are scarce on the ground in Iraq because the Iraqis have hierarchies of values that are radically different than our own.
Lawrence Auster says what Bacevich proposes is insane.
The current Muslim population in the U.S. is about three million. So Bacevich is talking about, at the least, instantly doubling or tripling the U.S. Muslim population. To say, as Bacevich does, that the moral response to the ruin of Iraq is to ruin America is insane. Even if the Iraq mess were all our fault, we cannot as a matter of our national safety and survival afford to take these people in. We must not take them in. We must either find other homes for them in the Mideast, or lead a plan to partition Iraq so that the respective groups can live without violence, as Randall Parker has urged.
Yes, I agree with that Randall Parker guy who argues that we should partition Iraq so that at least each religious group does not have to live under the majority rule of another religious group. Though if the Iraqis insist on war between their partition zones I say let them fight their war and get American troops out of their way.
I'm growing very weary of people like Bacevich who mix their high rhetoric with only the smallest quantities of common sense. He says we owe nothing to Iraq, a "non-existent nation-state" awash in sectarian violence, yet we still owe the Iraqi people much. But from where does all that sectarian violence originate? Here is a small clue: it isn't from a "non-existent nation-state."
It's as if he learned nothing from the Fort Dix case.
Bacevich probably is insane - I would be, if in his shoes. His son just got killed over there, in a war he knew to be totally useless. Give the guy a break.
What also pisses me off is this whole "White Man's Burden" aspect to Bacevich's (as well as most liberals') thinking about these sort of people. The leftists demand that people in the Third World be treated with dignity and respect as though they were full grown adults capable of making their own decisions and yet, at every turn, when they fail to live up to expectations, they treat them like children who cannot be trusted to do the right thing and are in need of our help.
The Iraqis had every chance to make a better life for themselves. We've spent billions on them. All the major factions in Iraq have chosen to fight with one another. All of them have proven averse to compromise at every turn. If this money had been spent on people with the cultural values of Europeans or East Asians or even Hindus or Hispanics, we would have likely gotten much more for our blood and money. Let us treat the Arabs like adults. Let us stop treating terrorism as an aberration and acknowledge it as an outgrowth of Arabo-Islamic culture. The Iraqis have chosen their culture and made their own decisions, they can live (or die) with them.
"Bacevich probably is insane—I would be, if in his shoes. His son just got killed over there, in a war he knew to be totally useless. Give the guy a break."
There we go again, with this weird personalism that keeps intruding itself into contemporary political debate. The idea is, we're not supposed to criticize public intellectuals and other public figures because of some personal factor in their lives. It doesn't seem to have occurred to gcochran that if Bacevich is too mentally sensitive at the moment to engage in political debate because of the death of his son, then he should not be writing and publishing highly controversial articles.
By gcochran's sentimental, relativistic reasoning, Bacevich has the right to try to influence public opinion toward a mass Iraqi immigration, but other people don't have the right to oppose Bacevich's position.
It's the same with liberalism and PC generally. For example, Mexicans have the right to agitate to get America's borders opened, but if we oppose them, we're mean, inhumane, and racist. We should be "give them a break," to use cochran's phrase.
Also, by gcochran's reasoning, no one should have ever criticized Cindy Sheehan for her behavior and statements, because her son had died in Iraq. Her presumed hurt gives her the permanent right to rant against America, and takes away other people's right to criticize her.
Basically this is liberal victim-worship at work. The victim--whether the parent who has lost a son in war, or a nonwhite minority group beset by backwardness--must be allowed complete freedom to express his or their grievances and demands, no matter how irrational and destructive, while others are not allowed to disagree. Meaning, only one side can express itself. Meaning, politics is abolished and whoever claims the greatest victimhood rules.
Dog in the manger, might describe the attitude, but whether normal or abnormal psychology
motivates the agitation to transmit failure or evil to a successful society, is irrelevant, actually.
If every one of his relatives were now taken and torn limb from limb by enraged mobs,
he would still owe loyalty to Americans above Iraqis.
One-worlders have no rational arguments why our obligation is not to prevent the
increase the aggression on Americans
that comes from bringing in undesirables ny the millions.
They would have to show the desirability of bringing in large numbers of undesirables.
An obligation to admit large numbers of hostiles cannot be shown;
we don't need another faith-based initative of the one-world persuasion.
America first, Iraq to damnation, and good riddance.
Another contradiction is that national honor presupposes national continuity;
there is no honor in imposing national discontinuity, of a hostile, deadly sort,
and calling it a matter of honor.
Such preachments are especially dishonorable when we have good reason to suppose that the proponent
feels his own continuity to have been irretrievably lost, and uses that as a
protection for malicious urgings of discontinuity on those to whom he actually does owe loyalty.
Iraqis grossly parasitize us, Bacevich's continuity has been damaged or destroyed
by excess openness to such parasitical activities.
If your child died of cancer, would you want to spread carcinogens,
or limit their spread? Iraqis by the million would be highly mutagenic to our
continuity, and not just randomly so.
When excess openness of that kind is lethal, how much more irresponsible is it to ask for an increase
in the openness?
I certainly feel for Andrew Bacevich's loss, but Auster is right. He needs to absent himself from public commentary until he's back on his feet again, and can offer sensible suggestions.
To be brutally honest, Bacevich has never exactly been the second coming of Clauswitz when it comes to strategic planning. I'm sure that he was a fine, patriotic Army officer, but I've never really read anything he wrote that any commenter at the American Conservative or Lewrockwell.com couldn't have cooked up after a few minutes thought.
Anyway, this business about letting in three million Iraqis is so insane, he must still be deranged by grief. God be with you in your loss, Mr. Bacevich, take a few months off, and come back when you can offer advice that will help to preserve the Republic for which your son died so bravely.
Policy should be directed at keeping Iraq's best & brightest where they can do most good - in Iraq.
Resolve this the traditional way - say sorry and pay reparations.
All I have to say is that that fool is a fool.
Nothing more to add other than hell no don't relocate a single Iraqi here.
That fool Bush may have further screwed up their country, but it doesn't mean we have to take them here.
If those Iraqi idiots are hell bent on killing each other, let them do that there, not here.
The setting-up of an aristocracy of suffering lineages violates egalitarian notions,
hopefully everyone will notice.
What kind of equality can be said to be believed in, when certain
suffering lineages can speak as irresponsibly as they please,
with complete confidence that no one will dare find fault with them?
What sort of regard for truth is shown, by having these Kennedys
and Kings and McCains, who are exempt from criticism,
no matter what lies they tell?
Valuing openness to hostiles has no rational arguments in its favor.
In this case, we have another strong indication of that,
since, if there were convincing points to be made,
why would it be set up so as to smear critics
of the proposed openness, as insensitive, impolite, cold,
Why the need for such rank manipulation of emotions,
do Americans like being told how to feel?
Tommy - "We've spent billions on them."
Actually no, theres hasn't.
While untold billions have been spent in Iraq, only a fraction has actually been spent on the Iraqi people. Most of the spending has been on contractors, and the rest gone to local and regional corrupt facilitators.
The fact that so little has been done to improve the life of the ordinary people - rather their lot has sunk to new depths amid civil strife - is reflecive of the mire in which the US has got itself.
Perhaps it would improve the entire conversation to avoid ad hominem of all kinds and to simply discuss the merits of the arguments without reference to personalities or motives.
Auster, you're crazy all the time. What's your excuse? I'm not saying that we have to take that column seriously because of his grief - I'm say that's why we _shouldn't_ take it seriously. Bacevich will get over it, likely: he's not a died-in-the-wool fool. Which is saying something, because a solid majority of pundits are. An overwhelming majority, really. I mean really, how many people have managed to figure out the most important thing about the Moslem threat - that it's very small? Damn few.
I could list the kinds of smarts and knowledge a good strategic analyst needs, but it's a moot point: pundits are mostly cheerleaders telling people what they want to hear. There's not much of a market for accuracy.
I think cochran's point is probably right - yes, Bacevich's column is stupid, but let's hate the sin, not the sinner.
By all means, criticize this idea that we ought to take in millions of unassimilable refugees, but let's refrain from judging Bacevich too harshly for one silly column written while he is under great duress.
Ad hominem and faux diagnosis are what the Marcusian Frankfurters have made prevalent in academia,
since rational arguments for such positions are unavailable.
It is legitimate to speak of Bacevich's personal and family circumstances, though, if these are being used
as a protection and a source of privileged exemption from sensible criticism.
The openness to efficient transmission, on the internet idea-vector,
may, as theory predicts, allow for increased virulence, and favor it.
That is, unless someone's theory is being applied too generally.
No Auster isn't an Israel-Firster, but he does enjoy going off half-cocked at folks -- Buchanan, Sailer, Cochran, The Swede, etc. -- with that pursed-lips finger-wagging seriousness as he (seemingly deliberately) misunderstands what you are saying. That's part of his charm. You just have to know when to turn him off and not respond, that's all -- or tell him to "stick a sock in it", take your pick. At other times he is quite perceptive and can back your butt up against a wall. In this case, he did not seek clarification when he should have.
My two bits on Bacevich: his son died. He died for nothing.
Bacevich desperately wants to believe in his son's fight to redeem the Iraqis to give his son's sacrifice some meaning, and this is the only way he can find to do it.
Rather than fight in Iraq he wants to bring the struggle for Iraqi souls and Iraqi redemption back home to America and let us take over where his son left off.
To tell Bacevich to his face that the Iraqis are not now and never have been worth the life of one American soldier -- i.e. that the struggle from the outset was pointless, futile, and utterly misguided is to completely discount his son's sacrifice.
Me? I just wish he would struggle in peace, keep his pie hole shut and keep his freaking pencil in his pocket is all.
What Greg, Ron, and Lawrence think of each other or of Bacevich is a distraction from a far more important matter: The vast bulk of the readers of the Bacevich article will be ignorant of Bacevich's history of positions on Iraq or the fate of his son. They'll just look at his arguments and some will unfortunately be persuaded.
What is most important here? Whether we start letting in huge numbers of Iraqis. It is a bad idea. It is a really really bad idea. We need to spend more time saying that and less time on squabbles.
We're asked to 'keep faith' with the Iraqis, but there was no bargain, and especially no social
contract, between Americans and Iraqis.
If it is claimed that there is such a social contract, between the two nations,
the comments here have annulled it preemptively.
The Iraqis have no vehicle with which to keep a bargain with Americans,
and would be an apostate nation relative to Islam,
if they made one which we were obliged to honor by admitting
millions of theirs.
The traitorous proposal treats enemies as allies, is completely one-sided, placing
damaging burdens on Americans, while requiring absolutely no commitment to anything,
not even basic non-hostility, on any Iraqi.
There is not known to be any duty towards them, those who say there is,
need to demonstrate this, but they can't, they just say 'keep faith'.
It is extremely dishonorable to be for moslem immigration above those to whom loyalty
To be for hostiles first, and not for America first, is not known to be honorable, far from it.