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Does Inflexibility Equate to Strength?

Take note, please, dear readers that American Diplomacy Publishers, a not-for-profit corporation and its journal, American Diplomacy, are nonpartisan in politics. Nonetheless, this editor has, for what little it might have been worth, opposed America’s second war in Iraq from the beginning. Several editorials to that effect appeared in ’03 in the Internet space allotted to American Diplomacy. *

The march of time and events, however, three years ago took this nation into an initially successful, U. S.-initiated clash against Saddam Hussein’s already twice-defeated military. (Since the 1980’s, Iraq had been fought to near collapse by Iran and then, despite Baghdad’s bellicosity, was beaten quickly in the First Gulf War by the broad international coalition mounted to deny Iraq its ill-gotten gain of Kuwait.)

This last time around, the spring 2003 battle was won quickly again, and a welcome result was the ouster of Saddam. The reason for a deliberate return to warfare was the belief in some quarters in this nation’s capital that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction, probably extant or certainly almost ready for use. These weapons, Washington leaders averred, posed a threat against the United States and the West. Further, the White House pointed out supposed links between Saddam’s Iraq and al -Qaeda. America’s political leadership thus took the position that a fresh attack on Saddam’s Iraq was not only warranted, but a matter of urgent necessity.

Never mind that UN inspectors had been active in Iraq off and on over the years since the early 1990’s without finding such evidence. Never mind that U. S. agencies such as the CIA and State’s INR had doubts about Iraq mounting a credible threat to the United States.

The difficulty this second time U. S. and British forces defeated Iraq centered on occupation problems. Peace did not break out once Saddam’s forces were routed and Coalition troops were not greeted as liberators. Democracy, the installation of which was one of the Coalition’s aims, did eventually enter the picture with a national election, but it has not prospered. All this came about because insurrectionists, terrorists, Muslim extremists, rejectionists – whatever one wants to call them – unexpectedly assumed a deadly, destructive role on the national scene. And this defiant attitude has shown a tendency to spread and be directed against America around the Islamic world.

As we all will recall, it began with the wholesale looting in Baghdad upon the capital’s entry by the victorious American troops and the exit and disbandment of Iraqi forces of all sorts, military and police. This violence and disorder was a harbinger of far worse to come. A long, unforeseen, lethal campaign of bombing and killing followed, climaxed, and perhaps epitomized at this writing, by the destruction of the Shi’a Golden Mosque in Samara at the end of February of this year.

Iraq successfully held national elections recently, but the country shows little sign of being able to complete the democratization process by forming a viable national government. Still less does it appear that democracy has begun to spread around the Middle East, as was forecast, unless the elections that brought Hamas to power in Palestine can be counted as such.

So, after three years in Iraq this time around, what do we in America have there? A country that has shown some glimmerings of democratic practice with Saddam and his regime deposed, but which is so rent by dissension (partly occasioned by the results of open elections) that it edges closer to civil war. The nation that was cobbled together after the First World War and that was awarded its independence only in the early 1930’s clearly shows signs of splitting into three. Full-scale civil war looms (to wax dramatic) and there appears little the United States or the UN or anyone else can do about it.

This brings me to a writing gambit dear to the hearts of many writers trying to make a point: the use of selected, apt quotations. I lead off with a statement of resolve by the U. S. President:

“Iraq is no diversion. It is a place where civilization is taking a decisive stand against chaos and terror, we must not waver.”
President George W. Bush

And I follow with Sir Francis Bacon, who died ‘way back in 1626:

“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.”

Next, addressing, perhaps, the question raised in the title of this editorial, a quotation from American writer Rita Mae Brown:

“Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment.”

Finally, the inimitable, well-remembered words of John Adams, second President of the United States:

“Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.”


Editor Henry E. Mattox

*See as examples “General Sherman Indubitably Was Right” and “Iraq is a Four Letter Word.” Both, and others, may be found in the journal’s Web archives


Henry Mattox is the Editor of American Diplomacy.


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