Filed under: Global issues, Iraq, War & peace | Tags: Michael Walzer; withdrawal from Iraq
I read with interest and agreement this essay by Nicolaus Mills and Michael Walzer in the New Republic on ethical guidelines for withdrawal from Iraq. Influenced by Walzer’s writings on the ethics of war, I had penned thoughts along these lines a few years ago.
I also reacted to some ill-founded criticisms by two commenters on the article, and I am reproducing my response here. Oddly enough, one commenter was anti-Obama and seemed to think that all plans for withdrawal were capitulation to jihadism; therefore, he harshed on Walzer as a capitulator. The other writer (to the extent I can figure him out) was anti-Bush; therefore he seemed to think that Walzer analysis was too abstract and failed to criticize the failed war harshly enough. Here’s what they both missed:
Walzer is not commenting on whether keeping troops in Iraq is a good idea or not. He begins with the historical observation that “Nations carefully plan for wars. They mobilize support for them. But typically they rush into withdrawals….” Walzer is starting with the *factual* premise that America has committed to removing all its combat forces by the end of 2011. The Iraqi government remanded this of the U.S. George Bush agreed to it, if you don’t recall, and Obama is continuing with that plan. Right or wrong, it is what the Iraqis want; want the Democrat and Republican consensus it; and what most Americans want (Gallup polls for the last three years show 60% support for withdrawal on a timetable.) I take Walzer to be saying that this withdrawal is happening and, given that, it should be done ethically. Isn’t it better to have a thoughtful, planned, ethically guided withdrawal than the alternatives he discusses? Neither of you comment on the substance of his guidelines given these political facts.
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