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Civilization Watch
First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card January 14, 2007

The Crisis of the Islamo-Fascist War

President Bush is a genuinely awful speaker. Wouldn't it be a shame if we lost a war for the survival of western civilization because we had a President who reads his speeches in a dispassionate drone?

It's been interesting to watch the media respond to the speech. Not that many months ago, the media was reporting on the speeches of Democrats and other critics of the war, talking about how Bush's plan in Iraq had failed because we always needed "more boots on the ground."

None of them -- not even the generals who hated defense secretary Rumsfeld with such a passion that they violated the rule of civilian supremacy and lobbied in the press for Rumsfeld's removal -- had a single spark of a plan for how those guys in boots would have been used.

In fact, the number of troops was exactly appropriate for the mission they were assigned. In the effort to avoid a Vietnam-style situation where our troops were scattered in many vulnerable positions, we were instead using our soldiers to seek out and destroy enemy positions.

But because the Iraqi military did not progress to the point where they could reliably hold areas that our troops had cleared, the Iraqi civilians in the Sunni Triangle knew that if they cooperated with Americans in attacking the insurgent thugs that rule over them, the thugs would soon be back to retaliate.

So the strategy, which worked well through most of Iraq, was failing in the Baghdad and Anbar Province area. The failure was not because our troops were not doing what they were asked to do. Primarily, the failure was because the Iraqi government was responding to political pressures and concerns on the one hand, and our enemies had a nearly infinite source of reinforcement and supply, through Syria and Iran.

The new plan is one that requires more American troops and more effective Iraqi involvement. Our troops cannot fulfil this assignment alone -- the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi government have to want to succeed.

This is not a surprise. Success in Iraq has always required that an effective government take over its own defense.

Iraq Must Want to Succeed

The Iraqi people made it clear, with their courageous voting for their constitution and then for their new government that they want this to work. Our own government had hoped that this would be enough to discourage the insurgents -- and if it were a genuine insurgency, it almost certainly would have.

However, these "insurgents" are actually functioning as agents of two foreign powers -- Iran and Syria -- and any who might have been tempted to respect the clear choice of the Iraqi people would simply have been killed and replaced by their masters in Damascus and Tehran.

One thing we can count on The thugs ruling the Sunni Triangle and Anbar province are fascists, ruling by terror, so that it is likely that substantial minorities, if not majorities, of the people in these areas are longing for them to be replaced by a decent government that respects human and civil rights.

If the Iraqi military does its job (for we know our soldiers will perform splendidly), this new strategy has a very good likelihood of success.

Keep in mind that most of the country of Iraq is functioning surprisingly well, despite the forays of terrorists into Shiite-majority and Kurdish-majority areas. The economy of most of Iraq is doing better than it ever was under Saddam; the people are far more free and, for the Shiites and Kurds at least, safer than before.

Furthermore, it is absolutely and obviously true that Bush is correct to say that most Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds want to live together in peace. They want to be about their ordinary lives; they want to be left alone.

But this new plan requires that they do their part to achieve this. America can't hand it to them; we can only open the door for them.


One of the weaknesses of the new government has been the almost complete inexperience of the bureaucracy. Under Saddam, you couldn't hold any significant government job without joining the Baath party. The result was that the vast majority of nominal Baathists were just people doing their jobs.

When we took over and occupied Iraq, there was no way we could determine which Baathists were sincere believers, and therefore possible saboteurs or criminals. So, echoing the "de-Nazification" of Germany nearly sixty years earlier, most of the highly trained, experienced government officials were removed from office -- permanently.

This move was politically pleasing to the Shiite majority, who had been virtually shut out of all government functions. Government was the exclusive province of the Sunnis, under Saddam. So de-Baathification removed the hated Sunni overlords.

The trouble was, it also hurt the ability of the government to function. There is evidence that many functionaries in the interim government cynically stripped billions of dollars from Iraq's budget and then, when the elected government replaced them, skipped town to live in luxury abroad with their embezzled funds.

So the Iraqi people already had grounds for cynicism about new governments. Even if the elected government is sincere and incorruptible, the bureaucracy that serves them has been forced to work without the educated, experienced, and, in many cases, dedicated bureaucrats who served their country under Saddam.

One key provision of the new plan, then, is for the de-Baathification policy to be revisited and many of the previous bureaucrats rehired, to bring their experience and expertise into the government. This will not only help to make the government function better, it will also show the Sunnis that they are not being ruled over exclusively by Shiites.

Needless to say, this is a difficult move for some Shiites to take. But it is essential if the Iraqi government is to become in fact as well as name a government of the whole country, Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds alike.

We were correct, in the first years after the fall of Saddam, to pursue complete de-Baathification. Now we are correct to relax those rules. But this will not constitute "re-Baathification." The plan is to let previous government functionaries return on a case by case or level by level basis -- none of the monsters of Saddam's regime will be returned to power.

In addition, the new plan includes sharing oil revenues with the people. What form this will take I don't know. Cash payments? New infrastructure? I'm not sure that establishing a dole out of oil revenues will actually help -- people value most what they work for, not what is handed to them.

But better to pay out checks to the citizenry than to let the oil revenues be skimmed by government-sponsored profiteers. And revenue-sharing will at least be a tangible sign that the government is working for the people, and not oppressing them. It may even be intended as an incentive for the people of thug-held sections of Iraq to cooperate in getting rid of their fascist masters -- help us get rid of the insurgents, and you too can get your check. But I'm most skeptical about this part of the plan.

The execution of the new plan will not be perfect, because nothing is. Still, it is a framework that can succeed.

Succeed We Must

When the Iraq Study Group report came out, the Democrats and the media just loved it. It was another stick to beat Bush with -- therefore it was treated as credible.

Just like the sniping of those generals who hated Rumsfeld. Never mind that the opposition of the entrenched military bureaucracy was actually a very good sign that Rumsfeld was doing a splendid job as secretary of defense -- most secretaries of defense are quickly coopted by the military, becoming more their servant than the President's, or else neutralized, becoming completely ineffective for anybody.

But for the media and the Democrats, anything that hurt Bush was good.

The moment the Democrats won, however, their "beliefs" seemed to change overnight.

No longer was the claim that we needed "more boots on the ground" even remotely interesting to them. They demand the opposite -- get the soldiers home.

No longer was the Iraq Study Group worth paying attention to -- the Democrats control Congress, so no longer does it matter that the ISG report declared that failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.

(Those who care about such things will remember that even before the invasion of Iraq, I was on record as believing that it was much more important to eliminate Syria's Baathist government, an open sponsor of terrorism and the chief funnel for funds and weapons flowing to the terrorists in Israel and Lebanon.

(Of course, any invasion of Syria would have meant an almost immediate war with Iraq -- Saddam would have been unable to resist the macho thrill of declaring war on us in solidarity with his Syrian brethren. No nonsense about WMDs as a pretext -- it would have been Syrian sponsorship of terror, period.

We would have beaten Syria and Iraq relatively easily -- and then our occupation of both countries would have been accomplished without interference from either. Israel's life would have been easier, and so would Lebanon's. Palestinians might have had a chance to get out from under the thugs of Fatah without turning to the thugs of Hamas.

But nobody listened to my sage advice -- not a surprise -- and we're in the situation we're in. That's the part that the Democrats don't seem to get. No matter whether they like it now or not, Republicans and Democrats voted overwhelmingly for this war. Some of the information on which their votes were based turned out not to be true -- but all decisions of Congress and the President are based on incomplete and partially inaccurate information. Despite years of vile accusations, there is no evidence of deliberate disinformation from President Bush.

Yet even if President Bush lied constantly, and even if this war was completely misguided and inappropriate at its inception, the cost of leaving Iraq without complete, unequivocal victory is far higher than the cost of staying.

Iraq isn't Vietnam. When the Democratic Congress cut off funding for the South Vietnamese military after American withdrawal, violating all the promises that had been made to the South Vietnamese, this cowardly and dishonorable act had few repercussions for America for several reasons

1. Vietnam was not part of the fountain of oil from which the world's economy constantly drinks.

2. As Senator McCain repeatedly points out, the Vietnamese Communists didn't follow us home.

In Iraq, like Vietnam, cowardly and dishonorable withdrawal by the United States will result in a bloodbath. Anyone who supported us and the cause of Iraqi democracy will be dead in short order. No reeducation camps -- fanatical Islam doesn't have a doctrine of redemption

Ken, didn't you already post this?
I don't think so...I think I did figure out how to post another of his columns.

...on the other short term memory isn't what it once was oops

Mr. Card did personally give me permission to post some of his thought a while back....and I keep finding myself saying "yeah...what he said!" lol

I'm not a disciple or anything...but he often makes such tight logical positions in the 'center' that I feel almost obligated to offer his thoughts in any forum of thought.