Not a good policy to take advice from one's opponents
Posted by aogTuesday, 20 April 2004 at 09:25 TrackBack Ping URL

Orrin Judd has a post that cites “experts” comparing the occupation of Iraq with the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. I find the analogies weak at best.

My first objection is basically ad hominem. The two primary experts quoted are Timur Goksel, a university lecturer in Beirut who served with the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon from 1979 to 2003 and the Iranian Foreign Minister. Given the effectiveness of the UN mission in Lebanon, I don’t see Goskel as being very creditable and the idea that the Iranian Foreign Minister would be offering useful advice to the Coalition is risible. It’s obviously in Iran’s best interest for the Coalition to not use force because if it does, Iran’s proxy forces in Iraq would be wiped out.

In a similar vein, the idea that the indefinite end of the Israeli occupation in Lebanon is what goaded the Shiites to armed resistance I find highly implausible. Israel invaded in the first place because of attacks from Lebanon which means there was “armed resistance” before there was an occupation. It’s hard to see how A can cause B if B preceeds A.

The biggest problem with using force is that it’s an “in for a penny, in for a pound” kind of thing. Using force and failing to achieve the objectives is the worst of both worlds. My view is that the “experts” cited in this article are hoping to thwart the Coalition effort against the insurgents after the fighting has started because that will count as a major victory for the insurgents and their supporters (such as Iran).

What we might want to do is, rather than having a fixed date, have a fixed set of conditions. Perhaps that would encourage greater cooperation in order to achieve those conditions. Right now, there’s little incentive to cooperate if a turnover is going to happen on a fixed date. I suppose the counter-argument is that there is no way to really get more cooperation so we might as well be specific and offload the problems on to those who are best situated to solve them.