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Iraq isn't the time or the place to learn patience

Reader comment on item: U.S. Needs To Learn Patience [in Iraq]

Submitted by John Hadjisky (United States), Nov 30, 2004 at 19:45

Of course Americans could do with more patience. Who couldn't? But we live in a system in which, for better or worse, significant elements of our foreign policy change every 4-8 years (or less, if there is a major shift in a mid-term election, or in our polls or our media's flavor-of-the-month reporting).

During the Cold War, there was a broad, deep, and bi-partisan consensus that endured for at least a generation. But such a consensus is the exception in a pluralistic, democratic society, rather than the rule. It is much more the real in such historically patient countries such as China or Russia.

I am cautiously optimistic that there is a broad, deep, and bi-partisan consensus for the "war on terror", but even there, the consensus must grow deeper so that the war on terror remains a war on Islamism, and not a meaningless "war" on a mere tactic. It must also not be law enforcement action.

While we sure wish it were otherwise, the consensus on Iraq specifically is no where near as deep as the consensus for the war on terror. Given that reality, it is puzzling to hear Dr. Pipes, who himself was at best luke warm on the Iraq project to begin with, to now imply that it is realistic to call for patience and postponment in Iraq. Can we afford to be patient for aother 6 months? Probably, absent a major crisis such as a sucessful WMD attack, with massive casualties, on U.S. soil. Will 6 months be *enough*? Dr. Pipes implies that it will, but I don't see the data to back this up. Why not 12 months? Why not 18?

Patience and a strong hand *will* be required in order for democratic instututions to emerge and take root in Iraq, i.e. to avoid the trap of one vote, one time, then president-for-life. But, the scheduled national elections are only a step on this road. If Iraqis consistantly poll in favor of long-term democracy but a short-term strong-man, why not have that strong-man be an *elected* strong-man?

Keeping (and exceeding by several days) our earlier promise to return soverignity to Iraq led eventually to the in-country consensus that negotiating with terrorists in Najaf, Fallujah, etc. was a dead end, hence the current military actions. I see little reason to conclude that breaking our promise now will somehow create a stronger consensus in-country, and even if it does, the value of that will be more than outweighed by the morale and propeganda boost it gives to our and the Iraqis' enemies. In the aftermath of the victories in Fallujah and elsewhere, the trick will be to keep the enemy off-balance and reactive until after the election. Boycott, smoycott! A less perfect election, on schedule, is better than a possibly-more-perfect election that may never come.

The true need for patience will be after the coming Iraqi election, when Americans and Iraqis must persevere together long enough to ensure a *second* Iraqi election, not to mention the many other institutions of democracy. The goal MUST be for that second election to occur on the scheduled date (whenever that is...), and not a day sooner or later.

Together, Americans and Iraqis both will (re-)learn essential (and probably timeless) lessons about the true value of a deadline.

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (23) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Iraqi quicksand [216 words]George SheningAug 31, 2005 03:3625260
A contradiction? [99 words]Ben ShniperDec 8, 2004 17:1418937
Never again... [168 words]DonaldDec 6, 2004 22:4418884
Iraq, or Israel [49 words]David SochaczevskiDec 5, 2004 23:5318868
What are we supposed to do? [48 words]John BlakemoreDec 1, 2004 11:0718788
Was 1864 election illegitimate? [176 words]PatNov 30, 2004 23:4618776
Separation between Mosque and State [141 words]Marcos BerensteinNov 30, 2004 21:4218771
Road from Tyranny [55 words]Peter J. HerzNov 30, 2004 19:5418769
Iraq isn't the time or the place to learn patience [544 words]John HadjiskyNov 30, 2004 19:4518768
Delaying Elections will Lead to Disaster [314 words]Jeffrey BaleNov 30, 2004 18:3618751
An observation [271 words]Vern RockNov 30, 2004 18:3518750
Iraqi Civil War [102 words]Leonard MarkowitzNov 30, 2004 18:1918746
Some Questions On Iraqi Elections [556 words]David B. AroninNov 30, 2004 17:2718734
Anti Americanism [211 words]JohnNov 30, 2004 16:4918732
1Building a house upon the ground without a foundation? [170 words]Richard Jerome JasmineNov 30, 2004 13:1918725
Better is the enemy of good enough [94 words]John BergNov 30, 2004 12:5118724
Delay is Surrender to Militants [113 words]Paul SaundersNov 30, 2004 12:4218723
US needs a short-term exit strategy, not patience [96 words]Elan RubinsteinNov 30, 2004 11:3718720
Thank you [75 words]Martin EkremNov 30, 2004 11:3518719
Election in Iraq [118 words]Sandor ShuchNov 30, 2004 11:1618718
Yes, but... [75 words]Howard VeitNov 30, 2004 10:4618716
The Need to "Get-On" with the Elections [79 words]Dennis McGaugheyNov 30, 2004 10:2618715
The coming Iraqi Civil War [170 words]Glenn KlotzSep 1, 2003 00:2610947

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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