Two Views of Abu Ghraib

TWO VIEWS OF ABU GHRAIB. (Head Heeb, Belmont Club) Noting that “it is in the nature of counterinsurgencies” to blur the line between enemy and civilians, the Head Heeb asserts that “We need to leave [Iraq] while we still have a choice.” (I have taken some slight exception to this conclusion – see Comments.) The Belmont Club draws a different lesson: Wretchard explains that conflicts unresolved – that is, wars unwon – soon degenerate into endless cycles of mindless bloodshed. Wretchard’s analysis reminds us that the dehumanizing effects of war are by no means limited to counterinsurgencies, but are part of conventional warfare as well – which is exactly why wars, including this one, must be ended quickly and decisively.

For my part, I think we are all agreed on the need to turn control of Iraq over to the Iraqis as soon as possible. For a better understanding of Jonathan's position, I'll let the HH tell it in his own words:

What productive purpose is our continued presence in Iraq serving? Getting rid of Saddam - that job's done. Eliminating WMDs - well, no. Fighting terrorism - sure, but at this point the terrorism is mostly local and occupation-inspired rather than the sort of global terror we should really be fighting. Preventing anarchy - maybe, but at this point it seems more like we're preventing natural political evolution. Increasing American political leverage - we're doing quite the opposite of that at this point. Cleaning up the mess - a noble cause, certainly, but our best efforts seem only to make the mess worse.

If we keep winning all the battles but the situation keeps getting worse, then I think our presence might fairly be described as counterproductive.