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the fertile crescent

21 June 2008 no comment

I am ever-so-slowly making my way through the book “Are We Rome?” by Cullen Murphy. It’s a good book so far; he makes a fair amount of salient points – some I vehemently disagree with, but that’s what makes it a good book. However, when he starts to briefly profile Edwin Gibbon, the author of the seminal work “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” he takes a quote from the historian who was an Englishman in the time of the Revolutionary War; he opposed it, and as an MP, threw his political weight behind opposing the upstart colonies. Eventually, after a protracted guerrilla warfare campaign, he resigned himself to abandoning the call for punitive action against our fledgling nation. I have looked in vain for my high school term paper, which was about Guerrilla Warfare, because I remember postulating during my research what Gibbon would discover, and I, too, have re-discovered during the course of the Iraq war, stated succinctly in this excerpt:

“I shall scarcely give my consent to exhaust still farther the finest country in the World in the prosecution of a War, from whence no reasonable man entertains any hope of success. It is better to be humbled than ruined.”

I believed the Hawks’ press at the outset of the conflict. Saddam Hussein was a bad man (that much is certain). He used weapons of mass destruction (also true). He had WMDs (not the sexy kind that the media wanted, but still true). He was slowly reviving a broken nuclear program. Where reality diverged from fantasy was that the Iraqis were ready for rebellion. We have come to find out that Iraqis are not ready for their own country. Our failure was in thinking that they were like Americans – ready for the adventure. Ready to die for one’s country. For freedom. Therein lies the rub; as Americans, we don’t know what to do without freedom. Iraqis of 2008 don’t know what to do with it. Much like the slaves, who – after the Emancipation Proclamation, after the initial celebration, freed of their bonds – just stood there.

Despite this, it is my opinion that we should be done in Iraq. As I have said before; it is time for them to ride without the training wheels – bruises and cuts notwithstanding. Shia, Sunni, and Kurd have to get along now. They can learn how now or a hundred years from now, but no longer should it be at the expense of American lives, carved both out of flesh and out of time. Besides, they still have a common enemy, right across the border to the East – a Persian menace still threatens the world to the West. Indeed, pulling out of Iraq may well be the best thing America could do for Tel Aviv.

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