Saturday, May 01, 2004

taking a breath

Wretchard at the Belmont Club thinks I'm all wet in my pessimistic view of the Fallujah situation. Well, he didn't actually mention be by name, but I'm sure he had me in mind. Wretchard still thinks the marines have the situation in hand and aren't being pulled out by the pols. His analysis is pretty convincing, so I'm hereby going back to giving them the benefit of the doubt.

This isn't an issue of impatience on my part, it's an issue of whether I trust George Bush any more. Let it take as long as it takes, but if Bush starts treating murderous thugs like respectable leaders, it's all over. Look at it this way: suppose the governor of Arizona was convicted of some crime and removed from office (hard to imagine, I know). Now suppose that instead of stepping down, he assassinated the Attorney General and the judge who convicted him, kidnapped the jury, called up a few loyal members of the state militia and holed up in the capitol building. Would anyone seriously suggest that since he has a constituency he should be given a "role" in the government and forgiven of his crimes? Would anyone worry about enraging his followers by taking him out? Would anyone fear that by attacking rather than negotiating, we were denying his followers their right to participate in the process?

Of course not. Those arguments would all be ridiculous in Arizona and they are ridiculous in Iraq. The very reason the rebellion is inconceivable is because everyone knows there would be zero tolerance for such an act. It could not possibly lead to success and would almost certainly get everyone involved killed or imprisoned. If we want such a thing to be inconceivable in Iraq also, we need to be just as intolerant of it. Anyone who tries to get political leverage with violence dies or goes to prison. All of his followers die or go to prison. If his followers riot, they are just as guilty of using violence for political ends and they die or go to prison. The U. S. must make it absolutely clear that no one, NO ONE, gains anything by violence in Iraq. They need to make examples of the Fallujah rebels and Sadr soon, before everyone starts abandoning ship.

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