Here’s how Tom Friedman ends this week’s column, which is about how horrible the insurgents in Iraq are:
As is so often the case, the statesman who framed the stakes best is the British prime minister, Tony Blair. Count me a “Blair Democrat.” Mr. Blair, who was in Iraq this week, said: “Whatever people’s feelings or beliefs about the removal of Saddam Hussein and the wisdom of that, there surely is only one side to be on in what is now very clearly a battle between democracy and terror. On the one side you have people who desperately want to make the democratic process work, and want to have the same type of democratic freedoms other parts of the world enjoy, and on the other side people who are killing and intimidating and trying to destroy a better future for Iraq.”
Are there lots of people pulling for the insurgents? I suspect that lots of Arabs are, being that they’re fighting a Western army that invaded and is militarily occupying an Arab country, but are many Americans? Are people romanticizing the insurgency? I guess some people are, but I don’t really run into them.
I think a lot more people who are “against” the war are just wondering what the hell we’re going to do at this point to support the people who want real freedom for Iraq. The first question is, how many are there? The second question is, how do we get from where we are today to something resembling a functioning democracy? If the plan is “hold elections of some kind and keep killing insurgents,” I don’t like our chances. I also don’t know of a better plan. So really all that’s left for me, and probably many other people, is disgust that we got ourselves into this mess. Democracy for Iraqis would be a wonderful and powerful thing, same for Iranians, and Syrians, and Kuwaitis, and Zimbabweans, and Russians, for that matter. But I think we can now regard the effort to bring democracy to Iraq through an invasion and an undermanned occupation as a complete failure. Things have not stopped getting worse since the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled over in April, 2003. How do we expect the same people who can’t make things stop getting worse to make things better?
Nobody should romanticize the insurgency in Iraq, but it’s still a fact of life. The insurgency was an inevitable response to foreign occupation. The fact that it has flourished is directly attributable to the unwillingness of the Bush administration to put enough boots on the ground. So now how to get rid of it? I don’t think that the odds favor us in a war of attrition.