>How about having an actual election in a few days (as opposed to those in which Saddam got >100% of the vote)?
Assuming that the elected government resulting from such an event is a) genuinely Iraqi, and not merely an American sponsored collective of previously exiled Iraqi quislings, such as the notorious Ahmed Chalabi, b) somehow manages to be at least reasonably inclusive/representative of Iraq's various ethnic groups, (a difficult prospect, I am willing to admit) and c) most especially achieves a genuinely representative result that is not rigged in the favour of any particular group, (and I don't just mean the Americans here either) then yes, I would agree with the idea that an Iraqi election would be an extremely positive event...and I would also agree with the concept that such an election, if successfully held, could be the beginning of a hopefully more stable Iraqi society.
The security situation is of course still precarious as well. I would be open to the idea that an election might have a substantially greater chance of success if the foreign muhajedeen were able to be expelled from the country. While I do not believe, as per some reports, that foreigners are entirely or even primarily responsible for violence inside the country, I do believe that they are greatly exacerbating a situation which would otherwise be sufficiently volatile on its own.
>BTW – Fallujah is not destroyed. The bomb factories, the weapons caches, etc. are now gone, as >are the terrorists who inhabited the city.
That is not entirely consistent with what I have read so far from other sources. However, I am willing to concede that it appears to be notoriously difficult to obtain truly objective information. One of the main problems with issues such as this (which from what I've read has been at least partially the reason for the creation of the blogosphere itself) is the inability to obtain information that is totally free of propaganda. I have tried to track down some more information on Fallujan bomb factories specifically, and uncovered this article by Max Boot in the LA Times, among others. Irrespective of whether the numbers themselves are correct, I will admit that I found this article to be rather heavily propagandist in tone, but not necessarily moreso than others I have read from either side of the partisan fence. Propaganda would seem to be an unavoidable side effect of war.
>The question, though, seems to be that, unless I am mistaken, you would find it more palatable
>if they were able to go to work without terrorists bombing them because they were living under
>a despot’s rule (as the terrorists wish).
No, not at all. What I am worried about is whether the Iraqis genuinely are going to obtain self-rule, and this is not something I feel is threatened purely by the occupation, either. I have often worried that when the occupation ends, an Iranian-sponsored Shi'ite theocracy would appear in Baghdad inside of six months later, especially seeing as the Shi'ites are a majority in Iraq. The problem is that Iraq seems to be staring down the barrel of essentially either becoming an American possession on the one hand (in order to keep the other countries at bay), or ending up with proxy rule from either Iran or possibly Syria/Saudi Arabia on the other. I want to see the occupation end, but I also want to see Iraq gain genuine self-rule...and none of the other countries around it seem to be willing from what I've seen to allow that to happen. They virtually all seem to have some kind of interest in it.
>And, do you, like a commenter I had a while back, want to claim that the U.S. troops actively
>try to kill civilians?
Realistically speaking, soldiers, regardless of nationality, kill people. Soldiers also in many cases, regardless of nationality, periodically rape, loot, and commit attrocities. Killing people (and engaging in barbaric and destructive activities generally) is what soldiers are trained and very often temperamentally inclined to do, particularly in volunteer armies. A minority become soldiers specifically because they enjoy killing people, and being a soldier gives them a certain amount of latitude to do so. This scenario also is not Star Trek, and the US army are not the Federation...They're human, and presumably also of a dubious educational level in many instances as well, again as soldiers usually are. They also (as is normal for humans of either gender, though males perhaps slightly moreso) presumably have copious amounts of testosterone and adrenaline present in their bloodstream...two hormones which are well known for encouraging violent acts. In addition, the generation currently serving in Iraq have to a degree been raised since birth on a steady cultural diet of nihilistic, gothic music and highly sociopathic, computer generated graphic violence, often accompanied with equally extreme demonological/dark pagan imagery. (Doom 1-3, Diablo 1-2, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel etc) I could accept that this material may not necessarily have increased their inclination towards violence, but at the very least it would have desensitised them to it.
Also, if there are any among the US troops who believe that Iraq was connected with 9/11, then given human nature it is not outside the realms of possibility that they would want to exact what they might see as revenge. Doubtless you will perhaps argue that such is entirely justified...however there are those of us who have doubts as to whether or not Iraq and 9/11 actually are related to each other, and we are generally even more doubtful that even assuming Sadaam was somehow connected with it, that this means that the average Iraqi was also.