April 26, 2008

New Kagan . . . Same as the Old Kagan

Fred Kagan has a new piece in the Weekly Standard mocking all those who don't know what success means in Iraq. Fred lays it out:

Virtually everyone who wants to win this war agrees: Success will have been achieved when Iraq is a stable, representative state that controls its own territory, is oriented toward the West, and is an ally in the struggle against militant Islamism, whether Sunni or Shia.

Dr. iRack may be crazy, but this standard for "success" or "victory" or whatever is probably too high. We should shoot for sustainable stability in Iraq: a modicum of stability that is self-sustaining as U.S. forces come home. Certainly, we might all agree that, all-else-being-equal, it would be better to have a representative Iraq that is a close ally against Iran and combats extremism of all kinds. But what are the threshold points here? How representative? How close an ally? How little Iranian influence? How little extremism?

Dr. iRack is not satified with Dr. Kagan's answers here, and if we set the bar too high, it is a recipe for quagmire and staying in Iraq for 100 years. Not that anybody serious would advocate us sticking around that long. Who's Fred advising in the campaign anyway?

Update: Abu Muqawama caught the same passage Dr. iRack did and noticed how in Kagan World, all the people who want to "win" happen to share his definition of success. Presumably, those with a different definition of success don't want to "win." And are cowards. Who hate America. And the god-fearing people of Iraq.