Price Aside: Stand by Iraq
no option for the international community to cut and run. The fate of
Iraq is vital to the future of the Middle East and the world order.”
is not from Tony Blair, George W. Bush or any of his neocons. This
instead is from Iraqi deputy prime minister Barham Salih, repeating an
oft-heard Iraqi cry for the West to continue supporting the troubled
country. As we near crucial elections in a few weeks, it is indeed worth
remembering the stakes.
The fact of
the matter is, one’s position on the Iraq War in the winter of 2003 is
largely irrelevant in deciding whether the coalition should pull out of
Iraq today. Critics can disagree with the premise of the coalition being
there, and have the right to blame decision-makers for the difficult
situation in the Middle East at this time, if they so see it. But one
position on the war that is entirely irrational is that of pulling
troops out of Iraq, whether immediately, over months or perhaps even
within a few years.
our troops from Iraq would essentially abandon the country to terrorists
and radicals, leaving us with a mess that is far worse than that with
which we started. Such an action would create a playground for Iran,
Syria, Turkey, the Kurds, the Gulf states and terrorist groups in a land
so strategically located. And you must know how much fun such a
playground would be – nothing short of a blast!
barely-reserved global tension between Sunnis and Shiites could very
well turn into an enormous conflagration unless leading powers in the
Middle East are controlled. No one claims that a coalition success in
Iraq would ensure an eternal peace between the two factions, but a
coalition loss is virtually guaranteed to serve as the spark that could
destabilize not only the Middle East, but the entire world.
As much as
we Americans support our men and women in uniform and value their lives,
the prospect of an anarchic Iraq, along with the global deterioration
that it would surely instigate, is simply not worth the immediate
gratification of saving an average of 64 soldiers a month for what would
be a short period of time. When a full-blown Iraqi civil war drags much
of the Middle Eastern and world communities down with it, it is
inevitable that Americans would have to pick up their guns in much
bigger numbers, and die at a much faster rate.
administration and Republicans want to defeat a true quagmire by
preventing it from starting in the first place. Although Iraq is in a
poor shape today, it remains far from how bad it can become. Signs of
progress are encouraging and widely underreported: the country is on the
whole getting wealthier, much of it is actually safe and quiet, and the
chaotic parts are increasingly becoming the responsibility of a growing
and strengthening Iraqi military.
Republicans wanted to ensure a victory in November, they could have done
so quite easily simply by being weak on Iraq. On this critical issue,
the Republicans have put the long-term well-being of the country ahead
of immediate gains for their party. Democrats, on the other hand, as
exemplified in their demands for the withdrawal of troops (and their
failure to act on Social Security, school choice, etc.), show behavior
with severely misplaced priorities – immediate gratification precedes
sustainability and long-term benefit.
ironically, Democrats pride themselves on changing their position on the
Iraq War when the going gets tough, and criticize Republicans for being
solid on the issue. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer recently criticized
Michael Steele, the GOP nominee for the Senate in his home state of
Maryland for being “an unwavering supporter of the Republican agenda,”
with the Iraq War playing a large role in the background.
actually quite bizarre to attack someone for being blatantly and proudly
unwavering in support of an unpopular agenda. If Michael Steele wanted
to win in Maryland, he would call for withdrawal from Iraq (and no, as
we saw in Rhode Island, such a move wouldn’t lose him the support of the
to take a position that is largely detested in his home state and
injurious to his campaign, he must be doing so because he believes it is
best for his country. So if Democrats wish to attack Republicans for
being steadfast in their support for a democratic Iraq, that is up to
them. They might win the battle at the polls this time around, but they
just might have to fight a tougher battle with their conscience.
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