But if the United States wants to achieve its strategic objectives in the Middle East -- after three and half years of inconclusive warfare -- it is time to transcend the prevailing myths and consider the ramifications of an American departure from Iraq.There's that civil war thing as expected. Don't have a civil war, but you have sectarian violence, then you make up a new term - low-level civil war. The US military taking control of trouble regions that are in conflict with Saddam's dregs and Jihadists is anachronistic? Are they trying to claim that those groups aren't an issue? These specific groups most certainly are still in play in Iraq. Ignoring such realities is blindingly foolish. Certain areas do indeed have sectarian violence with the militias of various sects going toe to toe, but that shouldn't deny that other fighters are still causing conflict. It also is incredibly naive to fail to recognize that the Jihadists are likely involved in the sectarian violence in order to affect the results of their 4GW campaign. Must I also mention that the former Saddam loyalists are for the most part Sunni and therefore likely to be involved in the sectarian violence themselves?
The first argument is that the American presence is the only way to avoid civil war. The reality is that Iraq is engulfed by a low-level civil war. Much of the violence now dominating television screens is sectarian strife. As Shi'ite militias and Sunni militants confront one another -- and as Iraq's democratically elected politicians increasingly demonstrate their impotence to lead their constituencies -- the notion that American troops are defending a democratic Iraq against Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign fighters is at best anachronistic. The longer US forces attempt to impose coercive stability, the more America will become entangled in Iraq's sectarian conflicts. Whether Iraq can hold itself together is a question that Americans can no longer answer on behalf of Iraqis.
The second argument is that even if Americans can't hold Iraq together, the US presence at least prevents a larger regional conflict. This myth holds that, in the vacuum created by an American withdrawal, all of Iraq's neighbors will find themselves sucked into the conflict. But for decades, conflicts in the Middle East have been successfully compartmentalized; civil wars and strife in countries as different as Algeria, Yemen, and Lebanon did not provoke larger regional conflicts.This silly argument is a rarity in the realities of Iraq. I don't believe I've ever heard this even mildly argued by the present Administration or any of it's supporters. This argument is a distraction from the reality of Iraq.
What about the argument that Iraq will turn into a haven for terrorists? To a large extent, this has already happened. Under our watch, Iraq has become a magnet for jihadists eager to hone their skills in battle against US forces. The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi this year has done little to stem the growth of terrorist cells in the country. The US invasion has achieved one thing: the transformation of a tyrannical state into one that will attract a large number of transnational terrorists. And that reality is unlikely to be disturbed by the size and strength of American forces.Iraq is a terrorist haven? Hmm. I always thought of a haven as a place where you are safe. Training? I suppose fighting the US military is like on the job training. Kind of like learning to be a bee keeper by slamming your head against a bee's hive. This argument is again excessively shallow. The argument is that by attracting terrorists into a fight in Iraq you're merely aiding them in their cause. Of course, concentrating the more action oriented Jihadists in a single theater of operation and fighting them with a trained and focused military isn't a good tactic. It would be far better to leave these discontented and angry Jihadists scattered about the world with no task to focus on. That will certainly ensure that the US won't be attacked again. But hey, this "myth" must not have any support other than the obvious foolishness because the McBushitler crowd thinks it's good.
So they come right out and state what should be done.
"Staying the course" isn't working. A US departure can't make things much worse. If direct confrontation is not succeeding, then a more realistic solution is to quarantine the country to minimize negative consequences.Can't make things "much" worse. Wonderful. Maybe in the short term. I'd love to know how they propose to quarantine Iraq. The country with borders that are hugely porous on the Iranian and Syrian borders. And what will happen with those Jihadists that are in Iraq to fight the US? What happened in Afghanistan when the Soviets left? The Jihadists dispersed. Then they started attacking the west.
The final argument marshaled in defense of an open-ended American commitment is the notion that a withdrawal would damage America's credibility. But the damage has been done. By defining victory not as the removal of Hussein but the creation of a Jeffersonian democracy on the banks of the Tigris, at any point the United States leaves, global opinion will conclude that America "was defeated." Simply punching time on the clock won't change that perception. Israel stayed in South Lebanon for 18 years; when it withdrew in 2000, Hezbollah claimed victory.This is probably their most stupid statement of the lot. Haven't bothered learning any lessons of war have they? Forth generation warfare is famous for the use of these types of withdrawals for propaganda purposes. Should I mention the terrorist attacks on the African embassies and the Cole where the US failed to do anything of any effect? Did these people even bother to read the NIE conclusions that recently came out? If the US fails in the Iraqi democritization project, then we can be assured that the US will be attacked again and again. Success will be a psychological win of huge proportions in the Middle-east.
This whole Op-Ed was astounding for it's extreme lack of depth and complete failure to have a long term view of the actions in Iraq. Sadly this is the norm with most of those who argue for cut-and-run. If they don't like the methods being used, that is fine, suggest different methods, but the run-away crowd completely misses where the endgame of this conflict must run.