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Stability, Democracy, and Troops

We're so attuned to think of Senator Kerry as a flip-flopper that I think we barely even notice when the charge really isn't true. That was my reaction to yesterday's <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29230-2004Apr20.html">Washington Post editorial </a>charging that Kerry's statement, "With respect to getting our troops out, the measure is the stability of Iraq" represented a "shift on such a basic question after just a few months [that] is troubling and mistaken."

I haven't seen any defense of Kerry on this, but it seems pretty simple: What troops can achieve is stability. Democracy is built in other ways. So when and if the country is stable, with basic law enforcement mechanisms of its own, most of the U.S. and "coalition" troops can be withdrawn.

That doesn't entail giving up on democracy, though. Why should it? Consider the many countries in the world that are stable, but not democratic: Ukraine, for example, or Pakistan. Even if one takes a maximalist view of the potential for and desirability of greater democracy in Ukraine (and I work with a lot of people who do), does anyone think that the most effective way to achieve that would be to send a hundred thousand U.S. and allied troops in? Of course not. It's done by tying U.S. aid to measurable indicators of democracy and political openness, by building institutions of civil society, etc. Why should Iraq be any different? Right now, there is neither stability nor democracy, so it's all hypothetical, and we don't even know what that stable-but-not-yet-democratic Iraq will look like. But if the stable Iraq has any potential for democracy, then in the gap between stable and stable+democratic, there is no reason to have a large commitment of troops.

But if the Washington Post editorial board doesn't see that distinction, what hope is there that the Republican PR hacks of the Coalition Provisional Authority do?

Posted by Mark Schmitt on April 22, 2004 | Permalink


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You know, I find the WaPo editorial board to be incredibly annoying. It's as if they don't read their own damn paper, and get their news from the WaTi instead.

Posted by: asdf | Apr 22, 2004 5:28:00 PM

I don't have any good answers on this but at this point I'm not sure increased troops is the answer unless we are willing to actually try to ensure security among the Iraqi people.

as Fareed Zakaria put it:

Patrolling streets, fighting crime, making contact with locals isn't what people join the army to do. It also interferes with force protection, an understandable and legitimate concern of commanders. And yet, success in Iraq will depend on successful peacekeeping.

The truth which no one seems to be willing to address is that ensuring security in Iraq requires more dead Americans.

I post on this basic conundrum at between security and casualties at Kautilyan

Posted by: lerxst | Apr 23, 2004 10:49:55 AM

The Alliance for Justice has launched a new website urging Justice Scalia to recuse himself from the Cheney energy case! Check it out: www.ChooseToRecuse.org Scalia can recuse himself anytime before the Supreme Court renders its decision.

There is a great flash animation that goes with it too. You have to see "Quid Pro Quack" http://www.allianceforjustice.org/action/scalia/flash.htm Duck'em!

Posted by: Natacha | Apr 23, 2004 12:43:08 PM

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