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March 10, 2008
Hillary Clinton Wants
to Win Afghanistan, But Lose Iraq
Following her March 4 primary triumphs, when for the first time in weeks
it appeared somewhat likely that she would win the Democratic
nomination, Hillary Clinton proclaimed in her victory speech: “We're
ready to end the war in Iraq and win the war in Afghanistan.”
She didn’t say she wanted to “win” in Iraq and in Afghanistan, nor did
she insist that we “end” the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan. She
explicitly said she wanted to “win the war in Afghanistan” and “end the
war in Iraq.” In other words, Hillary Clinton wants to lose the war in
Now it would make more sense if Clinton wanted to pull the troops out of
both countries. It would certainly be an awful and dangerous idea, but
it would just as certainly be a lot more logical and consistent. So why
does she only want to withdraw from Iraq and not Afghanistan?
cannot be policy reasons. After all, anyone with an IQ higher than Miss
Teen South Carolina can tell you that today’s Iraq is far more
strategically critical than Afghanistan has been and will be anytime
The eyes of the world, including those of radicals, are on Iraq more
than anywhere else – and on politicians’ words about its war. Iraq is
one of the most diverse countries in the Arab and Muslim worlds, and as
home to significant Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish populations, is in many
ways a microcosm of the region. Its central location gives it borders
with the major players in the Middle East, including Iran, Turkey, Saudi
Arabia and Syria. Notably, it has one of the largest oil reserves in the
Perhaps most importantly, Iraq is closer than any other large Arab
country to demonstrating Arabs’ ability to adopt true democratic and
Even Hillary Clinton cannot possibly believe that it would be preferable
for America to give Iraq up to radicals than it would be to surrender
Afghanistan. Even Hillary Clinton can understand the superior value of
maintaining U.S. troops in the heart of the Middle East, compared with
fighting to hold the desolate hills of Afghanistan.
if it is not about strategic interests, what could possibly make
Afghanistan inherently more important than Iraq in Clinton’s eyes? Let
us explore the possibilities.
First, maybe Clinton would rather stay in Afghanistan for the simple
reason that it is an easier and cheaper war to fight than the one in
Iraq. This viewpoint is akin to Woodrow Wilson deciding he only wanted
to fight the Ottomans, because the Germans are harder and more expensive
And it would be, of course, ludicrous. Iraq and Afghanistan are both
just as much a part of the war on terror as the Ottoman Empire and
Germany were a part of World War I. And even if they weren’t, it would
be quite novel for America to turn a blind eye to its strategic
interests by surrendering a difficult war in order to win an easier one.
The other reason Clinton might be willing to lose Iraq despite winning
Afghanistan is just as disturbing: She does not believe we should have
been there in the first place.
Now, let us for argument’s sake pretend that Clinton did not support the
invasion of Iraq, despite voting for it. Regardless, her position at the
time would still be irrelevant, because America is already in Iraq, and
has been for five years. Along with the Iraqi people, we have sacrificed
thousands of lives and limbs, in addition to hundreds of billions of
There is absolutely no question that withdrawing today would leave us
with a situation in Iraq that is far worse than the Baath Party rule we
took down. A national civil war would break out that would almost
certainly turn into a regional war, and radical organizations would rule
parts of Iraq and use them as launch pads for terrorist operations.
Hillary Clinton is fully aware of the consequences of a withdrawal.
Through her willingness to surrender Iraq, however, she is in truth
saying that because the war was wrongly started, she does not think she
has to win it. She is, for the lack of a better word, so bitter
about President Bush launching the invasion of Iraq that she will
withdraw to demonstrate her opposition to the invasion in the first
Hillary Clinton will certainly not put it in those terms. But anyone who
scratches the surface will find that little other than these two reasons
justify plans to win Afghanistan and simultaneously surrender Iraq.
Despite her wishes, Clinton does not have the option to serve as
commander-in-chief in 2003. She can only do so in 2009, and has to
absorb America’s actions up until that point whether she had agreed with
them or not. She cannot decide whether or not to invade Iraq. She can
only decide whether or not to surrender it.
Political reasons for ending the war in Iraq continue to be the elephant
in the room. What else can a candidate say when trying to win a
Democratic primary? Those voters opposed to our presence in Iraq are
opposed, by and large, because it is a painful war to fight – and
because they disagreed with the invasion in the first place. Hillary
Clinton (and too many of her colleagues) continue to cater to these
beliefs, despite her full understanding of the consequences of
surrendering Iraq. She represents politics at their worst.
© 2008 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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