Sunday, September 17, 2006

More on Iraq

The juxtaposition of the two previous postings made me think more. In my first posting of the day, I was criticizing the Administration about having substituted ideology for information based on experience, study, and evidence. I still believe it deserves such criticism.

The second posting made me aware that the issue of values was at least equally important. There are very important values at stake in Iraq, including core religious values of Iraqi Sunnis and Shiits, of Kurds and Arabs, of different tribes, of secular and religious Iraqis. Even if we knew and understood these different values, I am not sure it is possible or desirable for a Western Coalition, with its own diversity of deeply held moral values to create the institutions in which Iraqi's sort out a socio-economic solution on the Iraqis that would in some sense be best for Iraq -- much less to impose such a solution. And of course, we don't come near to understanding the values of the many players.

Perhaps the most immediate issue domestically in the United States is whether what we are doing is even morally acceptable in our own value system, to our own people, as determined by our own institutions. I think the answer to such a question when posed in World War II was clearly yes; in Viet Nam it appears to have been no. In Iraq, I suspect it is too early to have any confidence what that answer will be.

Ultimately, however, we must judge the Bush Administration's Iraq policies not only by not only its head, but its heart; not only did it get the facts right, analyze them well and plan accordingly, but did it do the right thing; not only would it make its professors proud, but its preachers.

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