My librarian buddy Alan writes from New York:
John, I'm not sure I buy the Guardian's argument. Those of us who opposed the war are morally compelled to extend the occupation? Suppose your crazy uncle George went hunting, and brought home a live moose. Is the rest of the family required to feed and house the moose?
The article Alan refers to is three weeks old, yet remarkably timely to the current debate. The author, Hugo Young, opposed the war. He points out two reasons for the war: WMDs and regime change. After dismissing WMDs out of hand—a point that the US press has yet to reach—he examines the other rationale. Through most of the article simply says the Pentagon has bit off more than it can chew and must swallow or choke, the key sentence that Alan objects to is this: “Those who once said the US must never go near Iraq should now urge the US to stay there, with every serious commitment it can muster.” And Alan says “why?”
Alan has a point, but so does Hugo Young. Alan’s point is the same one that most of us who opposed the war started our arguments with from day one (which was around Labor Day last year). Conquering Iraq is a big deal. The administration has resisted this idea since an equally early date. Their statements were: cake-walk, happy crowds, flowers on the road, don’t need that many troops, interim government by mid-May. Our approach was to be pessimistic at every step along the way. And we were wrong to underestimate the quality of the American and British armies; they are without peers. However, we were right to be pessimistic about the quality of their political leadership and the ability of that leadership to plan; they are ideologically tunnel-visioned nincompoops.
This brings us to where Hugo Young’s throwaway statement is right. These same nincompoops have committed us to Iraq against our wills. We cannot just let them declare victory in our name and go home like they are attempting to do in Afghanistan. Like it or not, we are committed. The moose is in our fourth floor apartment. We can’t deny that is there. In order to be good neighbors, we must take on the responsibility of keeping the moose happy and quiet.
Meanwhile, there is nothing to stop us from telling the world what an irresponsible idiot uncle George is. And, of course, we will make him pay.