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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Failure is an option

Probably the only one. Billmon had a post with that title (Failure is an option), arguing that no matter how strenuously George Bush or Dick Cheney or John Kerry or Joe Biden may insist that failure is not an option, failure is ALWAYS an option. You row too close to the falls, you're going over. And that's what the Bushies and their Democratic enablers have done in Iraq.

Juan Cole posts a commentary along the same lines from Alan Richards of the University of California Santa Cruz (where my niece goes to school, BTW). Here's an excerpt from what Richards has to say:
My reading of history is that the only way large changes occur is as responses to large crises. I don't like this, but it seems true to me. And, I hasten to add, change in a crisis is hardly guaranteed to be humane, decent, or to have any claim on our ethical allegiance. We might get a new Roosevelt, but we also might get a new Hitler.

Please don't misunderstand me: I am not advocating regional-crisis-cum-oil-price-spike. I simply think that it is probably unavoidable. If we leave, there will be violence, mayhem, slaughter, and instability, and if we stay there will be violence, mayhem, slaughter, and instability. If there is (as I tend to think) a large crisis looming on the horizon, it will certainly be ugly, even hideous. And then-something else will happen. The one thing I don't think is possible is to avoid it.

So let me close where I began: I think it is delusional to imagine that there exists a "solution" to the mess in Iraq. From this perspective, the folly of Bush, Cheney and Company in invading Iraq is even worse than most informed observers of the region already think. Starting an avalanche is certainly criminal. It does not follow, however, that such a phenomenon can be stopped once it has begun.
Pretending that failure is not an option will likely only make the failure more spectacular, and leave us utterly unprepared for it.