Setting a Timetable for Troop Withdrawal from Iraq is a Terrible Mistake
Previously published on February 20, 2008
At some point, major military operations in Iraq must end for the sole purpose of supporting US interests with the hope that Iraq will become a stable and well-governed nation. This success will greatly depend upon the ability of the Iraqi leadership to unite an extremely divided people under a government that seeks to uphold all Iraqis' interests and the strength of the national military, police force, and tribal militias.
Frankly, Iraqis must set and accomplish goals that will stabilize their country as the United States cannot serve as a permanent leader, but setting timetables that dictate when political and security resolutions need to be completed primarily serves to further US interests in ending major military occupation in Iraq. Though timetables are probably a good idea for America's interest in leaving Iraq and will help push the Iraqi government toward accomplishing some goals, it will likely leave the conflict in Iraq unresolved; timetables are a poor solution for a poor situation.
While the conflict in Iraq is an important step in building a pro-West Middle East, the US must put its interests ahead of Iraq's stability as this conflict is critically hurting America economically and militarily. There are efforts that America needs to invest in that would be more fruitful in securing our Nation. Not only could the United States apply military resources to secure the borders, but there are numerous other hotspots and conflicts around the world that could use US military pressure.
Furthermore, by arguing that America must stay in Iraq because the Bush administration made a mess of what should have been an "easy win" and that the American people are continuously responsible for the poor governance of the Iraqi leadership and infighting of the Iraqi people, proponents of continuing the Iraq war are pushing people away their stance. Quite frankly, such an argument polarizes the issue between a fight or flight argument; as America's patient wanes, especially with a recession approaching, this argument will force the end of the American occupation of Iraq whether the conflict is resolved or not.
Instead of polarizing the Iraq issue, proponents must focus on viable solutions that will help Iraq stabilize. Senator Joseph Biden has long tried to form a solution that allows the Iraqi people to reorganize their government based on their inability to prevent civil war; although his solution may not ultimately be the solution employed, it allows America to open a dialog with Iraq that offers their people a government that will have the support of the people while giving their leadership the ability to focus on conflict resolution.
The difficulty with this conflict is that the US military footprint and influence tends to be very polarizing forces that drive conflict between those who support the US and those who detest our interference. The mistakes made under the Bush administration do not have to be in vain; the United States has a great opportunity to learn from these mistakes while redefining our role in the world and uniting the international community.
If Americans sincerely belief that stabilizing Iraq is pivotal to American's security then the US must humbly, not submissively, approach our United Nations allies for assistance in resolving this international conflict; this will allow for America's influence to be far less intrusive in the conflict and possibly lead to the presence of UN peace keeping forces instead of US military forces. This is not about substituting US troopers for UN peace keepers because America cannot continue the fight alone; it is about easing pressure on a very tense situation.
Although the security situation in Iraq has already been eased and could possibly be on the way to stabilizing, after surge troops withdraw security will be depend upon the security forces of Iraq and the governments' ability to fairly and competently rule. To get to that point, more than a temporary military surge, which increased the number of troops to what should have been used in the beginning of the conflict, will be required. Furthermore, what will cause a premature troop withdrawal is not the failure of timetables, but the hardliner attitude that the US must stay-the-course as it has for the past five years and would continue to for the next five or ten years.
America is a democracy and democracies fight wars when their people choose to, not when a minority leadership feels they should continue a conflict that was started with a proper debate or justification. Many Americans have seen this hardliner stay-the-course attitude and judged it inadequate. Frankly, the US has broader security issues to address, but Iraq does not have to be a failure. The overall problem is that hardliners will lead this Country to nothing more than a withdrawal because they continue to waste time leaving withdrawal as the only solution available to satisfy the majority of Americans who no longer support the Iraq war.