« Ben Bernanke Goes to Crawford | Main | Tax Shifts »

August 10, 2005

Baghdad Apparently Has a New Mayor!

Matthew Yglesias writes:

TAPPED: August 2005 Archives: NICE MAYOR YOU HAVE THERE... It's a bit hard to know what to say about something like "Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia" except that it hardly bodes well. The obvious thing to say is that we wouldn't have these problems if the administration hadn't failed to complete -- or really even attempt -- the militia demobilization process. On the other hand, the administration had perfectly good reasons for not doing so, namely that we apparently wouldn't have been able to make it work without pouring far, far more troops into Iraq than we actually did.

And, again, they had perfectly good reasons for not putting 500,000 soldiers on the ground, namely that the soldiers didn't exist and the political will to find and deploy them certainly wouldn't have existed before the war. Which is a roundabout way of saying that the real mistake here was trying to do something that we lacked the capacity to do. The fact that Shiite militias are roughly speaking "on our side" in the new Iraq is the only thing that makes our position there tenable over the short term. If we added them to our enemies list along with the Sunni Arab insurgency, we'd be in a hopeless situation. But you can't build much of a liberal democracy in partnership with Islamist militias.

Ummm... Allies. Ummm... U.N. Security Council. The biggest reasons for diplomacy--for coalition building, and for seeking U.N. blessing--are two:

  1. We are much, much more powerful and capable when we are leading a coalition that can put 500,000 Arabic-speaking military police on the ground.
  2. States that fear that the U.S. is a loose cannon--unconstrained by the Security Council and the concordium mundi--work very hard to acquire nuclear weapons once David Frum has put them on The List.

Posted by DeLong at August 10, 2005 05:19 PM