Withdraw from Iraq: good idea?
Previously published on February 20, 2008
The US military was intended to be subjugated to the American people as it is an extension of the Federal Government; the President serves as the Commander and Chief while declaration of war and war funding must be initiated by Congress. As such, war is always a political issue that must be continuously debated with the American people to justify and earn their support for a war; as America is a democracy, citizens have the right to end war, whether or not those actions are the most prudent.
Through Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, the Bush administration has announced the war in Iraq will not tie the hands of the next president to leave the conflict. This demonstrates an understanding of democracy that George W. Bush has often failed to grasp as his definition of the presidency often appears to resemble that of an elected dictatorship. Furthermore, although the conflicts of Vietnam and Iraq have many similarities, people often overdraw analogies to dramatize and equate the two situations; the ends may or may not result in the same fates, but the beginnings point to failures that both conflicts share as a result of misinformation, misunderstanding, arrogance, impulsiveness, and, most importantly, a total lack of open, honest discussion.
Whether or not Iraq is able to stabilize into a coherent peaceful nation, George W. Bush needs to be remembered as the president that arrogantly and impulsively rushed into a war that should have been a well debated relatively quick military campaign against a sadistic sponsor of state terrorism followed by a political reconciliation. Instead, the behavior of the Bush administration resulted in a poorly justified attack that defied the international community, after we requested their approval for action, and crushed a nation's infrastructure while sparking a civil war that invited terrorists into a country that previously had no such connection to Al Qaeda.
Furthermore, the Bush administration pushed the notion that the terrorists responsible for attacking America were somehow directed by the Iraqi government, a notion that was later discounted as a misconception that the Bush administration held without significant or creditable evidence. The most unfortunate result of propagandizing this war is that many Americans are still under this misconception, and thus, the focus of the War on Terror remains on Iraq instead of Afghanistan and nuclear Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden is believed to be hiding in the uncontrolled Northern providences.
Accentuating the failures of Iraq is not a move to demonize the Bush administration, but rather, an attempt to force America to act more judiciously when planning military action in the future. Within an economic context, the Iraq war is indebting young Americans to rising economic powers like China and, as our relative standing falls, military operations and disruptions in supplies have increased the cost of petroleum, thus, the prices of all goods have risen; the economic prospective leads to the conclusion that Iraq is a poor investment.
Militarily, the most powerful nation is bogged down which means a longer response time when crisis arises elsewhere and a lack of ability to pressure nations like North Korea and Iran as they pursue nuclear technology. Additionally, experienced military personal are exhausted to the breaking point in all branches, especially the Special Forces. Furthermore, terrorist groups have been emboldened as they have seen that they can standup to the American war machine with a smaller force while continuing operations worldwide and using Iraq as a training camp for future terrorists.
Diplomatically, the majority of the world has lost respect for the United States and pulling out before Iraq stabilizes will probably reinforce those views. The Nation needs to remember what a President's behavior cost us and what it is going to cost us, but this will do little to resolve the current chaos in Iraq.
Cutting losses and halting major military operations in Iraq while things are going well would be more beneficial to the United States in the long run than fighting a losing battle as the Iraqi national government is a joke and those tribal leaders helping stamp out violence are doing so to help America leave their country. If the US pulls out when the Iraq conflict is on the down turn, it will certainly hurt the reputation of the US more than it if a pullout occurs before the Country falls apart again; at some point, the US must reduce our military footprint in Iraq if not only for our own interests.
On the other hand, the US can still achieve a stable Iraq; such a scenario would be more ideal than leaving with the Iraqi military and police unprepared to deal with violence under a government which will likely corrupt those security forces and turn the Nation into a state worse than when Saddam Hussein was in power. In order to find a solution, the debate on Iraq must be revitalized now, while it must focus on producing an end of conflict strategy for the US along with a mission and strategy for US forces post major military operations. Otherwise, US losses will continue to mount and Americans will be polarized to the positions of stay or leave; this discussion cannot be an emotional conflict as such a conflict is fated to end in an eventual pullout. Basically, a stay-the-course argument ultimately leads to leaving Iraq unprepared for the long term.
A stable Iraq will provide another ally to America in the Middle East while demonstrating that even though America acted impulsively and irresponsibly, it did take responsibility for its actions. This can only happen, however, if pro-Iraq war supporters step down from a stay-the-course stance and move toward a position that adequately deals with the conflict and the consequences of staying in that conflict; only then will those who want to immediately leave Iraq support a resolution that will finish this conflict properly. Political reconciliation must occur now as by the time a new President is elected, it will likely be too late.