The Watcher’s Council results are in, and I’m pleased to report that I came in a very respectable second, behind Big Lizards’ excellent The “Don’t Make Waves!” Theory of Iraqi Politics. That post argues that Americans should focus on important military objectives, and leave the sectarian squabbles alone, unless they clearly affect the military objectives. The idea behind the post reminded me of the Rev. Sydney Smith’s little story about Dame Partington and the storm in Sidmouth:
In the winter of 1824 there set in a great flood upon that town. The tide rose to an incredible height—the waves rushed n upon the houses, and everything was threatened with destruction. In the midst of this sublime and terrible storm, Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her mop, squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused. Mrs. Partington’s spirit was up; but I need not tell you that the contest was unequal. The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington.
Here’s Big Lizard on the loss of focus in Iraq:
Contrary to conventional wisdom, I believe the most important elements of the Iraq democracy project are military: denying the enemies of freedom and democracy the ability to enforce their ideology by gun and bomb. Political “reconciliation” is academically interesting but ultimately non-essential to our victory conditions… an Iraq that is no longer a threat to the United States, not a haven for terrorists, and more or less free and democratic, at least enough so that Iraqis feel themselves a part of society, not apart from society.
It doesn’t matter whether the society to which they feel a sense of belonging is Iraq as a whole or just their region. In only matters that they realize that they must defend against invasion and infiltration in all parts of Iraq in order to safeguard their own, just as Texans would still fight against an invasion of New York, knowing that if NY fell, so eventually would Texas.
Thus, we must work closely with the Iraqi security forces (ISF) on security issues, defending against both al-Qaeda and affilliates in the Sunni areas and against Iranian-backed militias in the Shiite areas (and against Turkish incursion into Kurdistan, which means stopping Kurdish separatists operating out of that region to avoid giving provocation)… while at the same time, allow political “settlement” and “reconciliation” to spontaneously arise at the local level and percolate upwards from individual to tribe to province. Only then, years down the road, should we worry about parliamentary laws… if they’re even needed.
In other words, don’t waste your time sweeping the Atlantic back with a mop. Put your energies in preventing flood situations, and the Atlantic will eventually take care of itself.
My post, which took second place, you already know. It was Political Fairy Tales, where I argued that our modern media retells ideological myths rather than conveying actual facts.
On the non-Council side, the first place winner was the Small Wars Journal’s General James Mattis — Attacking the al Qaeda “Narrative”, which urges the West, in word part of its war against Islamists, to use their words, not our Western terminology. Second place was from the Captain, writing about Progressive For Racist Smears? (Update: Progressive Wises Up A Little Late), the story of a “progressive” who tried to use the KKK to besmirch Fred Thompson.
And as I always say, don’t stop with just the winners. Read all the entries. They’re good stuff.