Saturday, October 07, 2006

What Should We Do About Iraq?

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Bush's Iraq options limited: By Paul Reynolds, World affairs correspondent, BBC News website
Pulling out troops would be tantamount to admitting defeat for Bush.

A warning by a senior Republican senator (Warner) that 'bold decisions' will be required on Iraq if progress is not made soon has prompted talk that the White House might be forced into policy changes after the mid-term elections in November.

The problem for President George W Bush was illustrated by an example only this last week. The hope that US troops would be “stood down” as Iraqi troops “stand up” was turned upside down. It was an Iraqi police unit in Baghdad that was stood down, because of suspicions that it was condoning militia murders. If the US cannot rely on the Iraqis, then the policy of transferring responsibility has no prospect of success.

Insurgent defeat looks impossible. And if there is no political solution, then the violence will continue. The president's options are limited.

There are at least four wars going on Iraq - the war by jihadists against US troops, the war by nationalists against US troops, the war by Sunni jihadists against Shias and the war by Shia militias against Sunnis.

Any action he takes to alleviate one area could impact on another. He is hardly likely to announce a withdrawal. He himself has said that Iraq is the frontline in the war on terror he declared after 9/11. Withdrawal therefore would be an admission of defeat in that war and might hand the country over to the jihadists, his absolutely worst nightmare.

My Advice for the President and the Nation on What To Do About Iraq

Lincoln had the right idea. Keep trying different strategies until you find one that works, then go with it. Keep trying different generals until you find those that are effective, and then back them 100%. The Civil War ultimately needed Grant, and Sherman’s March to the Sea. Iraq might need entirely different things.

All options ought to be on the table, including withdrawal, including a “march to the sea,” including even a step-up in the war. Whatever will work. Put the best minds on it, and give them the freedom to wage whatever war is necessary, or whatever strategy will prevail. Forget about America’s prestige and reputation in the world and area. Just do the right thing. Our prestige and reputation will take care of themselves.

Bush’s worst nightmare is either a jihadist state in Iraq or an Iran-dominated Shia power there. I believe we need to accept that one or the other, or both, of these is what we might get. So what? We’ll deal with it.

In my opinion, this does not negate our decision to go into Iraq. Iraq needed fixing. We tried to fix it. End of story. What we did was good. The Middle East needed shaking up. Bush did it. He was brilliant in this decision.

The outcome is not solely in American hands, however. The Iraqis have received everything they needed to create a democracy and a functioning country. It is up to them to carry this out. It is not up to us. We have done our good, decent, noble part. Our part may not be over, but it might be. American blood was shed in the noble attempt to re-invent a significant, troubled part of the world. Now it is up to the Iraqis to benefit from our sacrifice.

If the decision were being made today, again, whether to invade Iraq, and I were on the panel—I would vote to invade, even knowing what I know now. There are only a few people in the world who have the vision to see what the Middle East can become, the heights to which it can soar—including an Islamic Renaissance. One of those few people is I. Another is George W. Bush. The Democrats can continue to mock us, I don’t care. It is they who are mired in the status quo, who want to accept the murderous, chaotic, terroristic past—appeasing the barbarians and accepting the Saddam Husseins as that part of the world’s leaders. On this issue, it is George Bush and I and others like us who are the “liberals”, and the left are the “conservatives,” defending the miserable status quo.


(*Wikipedia is always my source unless indicated.)

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