Monday, April 14, 2003

Intervention and Responsibility


David Remnick continues to be right about nearly everything. Another superb piece from the New Yorker editor, defending the principled liberal goals of the war in Iraq, casting all sorts of doubts on neoconservative imperialist, revolutionary aspirations, and most of all, emphasizing our immediate responsibilities. This is from the concluding paragraphs:


"Tens of thousands of soldiers will need to remain in Iraq long enough to prevent civil unrest or even civil war, while being vigilant against snipers, terror attacks, and guerrilla reprisals like last Thursday’s suicide bombing in Baghdad. Food, water, electricity, medicine, and other resources will need to be rapidly distributed. The production and flow of oil, the source of Iraqi wealth, will need to be maintained in a way that does not imply an occupier’s exploitation. And then there is the question of helping to build a free state on the rubble of tyranny. To stage-manage a hasty election of surrogates and then beat a fast retreat would confirm suspicions of American inconstancy no less than the rapid elevation of Halliburton, Bechtel, and Exxon Mobil as the titans of Iraqi industry....To help create a liberal state following a military invasion is an enormously radical, and delicate, project. Here the prize is not power but something more elusive—legitimacy. There are many ways for the United States to press the case for peace and political reform in the Middle East. A doctrine of permanent revolution, however, brings to mind no analogies in history to comfort us. The phrase is Trotsky’s, and the precedent is catastrophe."


As always, read the whole thing.