Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Professor Kerr asks three questions about Iraq for bloggers to answer:

First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?

Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?

Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?

Three very good questions. Professor Kerr, here are my answers:

I was in favor of the war in Iraq. I was opposed to the manner in which we left in the early nineties, and I felt that we had a moral obligation at the time of the first Gulf War to finish the job. I have favored the removal of Saddam Hussein for years, and am convinced that ultimately it was a net positive because it presents the Iraqi people with what may be the best opportunity to establish strong democratic institutions.

The not-very-upbeat stories are in some respects unsurprising, as we clearly lack a sufficient troop presence on the ground, our strategy seems fragmented, and we are far behind where I believe we should be in training the Iraqi police and national guard. I am also concerned that the new Iraqi police have insufficient bonds of loyalty to either Iraq as a nation or the current caretaker government. Overall, I believe that we are not properly approaching the problems that Iraq poses us, now that we have dismantled the infrastructure of the old Iraq.

The primary criterion by which we should measure success in Iraq is whether strong democratic institutions exist there in the future, after America has left. I believe that we will establish some democratic institutions, among them a national legislature. Whether those institutions will survive and maintain their democratic nature, or whether they will be coopted by extremists, will be the true measure of success. Stability of a relative sort is a necessity for the survival of these institutions, but it is difficult to invision the form this stability would take.