Bring It On!

A Decision Reevaluated

August 31st, 2006 | by Omnipotent Poobah |

It’s no surprise that the mess in Iraq is at the top of the news. Many people thought it was a bad decision from the get-go and even some of the President’s most ardent supporters are now wondering just what in the hell he’s doing.

At the time of the invasion, I thought it was a mistake. I believed:

    Far more important work in Afghanistan was incomplete.
  • The run-up to the war was recklessly fast and based on sketchy intelligence.
  • Saddam was not the immediate threat he was said to be, even though I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had been working on WMD.
  • And finally, that the administration appeared to be dangerously unprepared to “win the peace”.

Although I was against the war, I agreed with Colin Powell who warned of the “Pottery Barn Rule” - you break it, you pay for it. I believed that once we crossed the border, we should fix what we’d hamfistedly brought down on the Iraqis. After all, they were innocent bystanders. They hadn’t asked us to invade. We took it upon ourselves to decide what was best for them and they were caught in the cross-fire.

Since then, much has changed. The rationale for the war has morphed from a search for WMD, to building a democracy, to fighting terrorists over there instead of over here. The near-daily reassurances from the administration have evolved from, “they’ll greet us as liberators”, to “mission accomplished, to building a democracy, to democracy taking a long time to build to, “We’re not leaving Iraq while I am in office”.

And during that time, the Iraqis and American have suffered and all the photo ops and catch-phrases doesn’t change that fact on iota.

Today, Iraqis have few of the day-to-day things they used to take for granted - dependable electricity, clean water, kids being able to play outside. Sectarian violence kills them by the thousands while we debate the finer linguistic points of whether we have a civil war on our hands. They spend long days looking over their shoulder for the next car bomb or firefight and we hear a steady chant of “stay the course”.

Our own troops have fared no better. They’re dying by the thousands defending a place that’s increasingly indefensible. Meanwhile, our troops stay longer and longer. Our military is stretched like a camouflaged rubber band, and new and potentially worse challenges wait in the wings.

Many, including me, have criticized the democrats for not being more active in proposing a successful exit strategy. Before rot crept into the administration’s Iraq “strategery”, I hoped that someone - democrat or republican - would be courageous enough to come forward and propose a more workable solution than, “let’s keep keeping on”. Unfortunately, none did and now I believe it’s too late.

So, I find myself reexamining my position on not leaving before Iraq was pacified and rebuilt. I still agreed that the effort would be long and arduous. I still understood that plenty of Americans and Iraqis would die on the rutted road to “democracy”. I still felt that leaving Iraq to chaos was morally wrong. Yet, I changed my mind.

Today, I believe we should leave Iraq. I’m still troubled by abandoning the Iraqis. I’m still troubled that Iraq will be a stinking morass for years to come. I’m still troubled by how many people will die in a war that was avoidable to begin with.

Yet, I changed my mind. All of those reasons to stay are still true, but they are trumped by one thing - staying only makes it worse for everyone.

At this point, regardless of what we do, Iraq will remain in chaos. The only unification the warring sects will find is a hatred of the American infidels. Their civil war will almost certainly spill over into surrounding countries. And, the terrorism Bush currently uses as a bludgeon on his questioners will only intensify.

If people want to call that cutting and running, so be it. I prefer to see as a competent general might. We’re up against a superior force causing a rapidly deteriorating situation only made worse by our very presence. Any good general - or Commander-in-Chief - must evaluate that situation and decide if an orderly retreat to fight another day is a better option than killing thousands of our own and many more thousands of Iraqi lives on a lost cause. This is not a fear-based position, but one of simple war strategy. You don’t continue to waste your forces in a single battle at the expense of the wider needs of the war.

I’ve reevaluated my position and come to peace with it. I would hope that our Commander-in-Chief would do the same, but I expect I’ll be as disappointed in that outcome as I was with the original decision to invade.

Unfortunately, it’s a familiar feeling.

Cross Posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

[tag]politics, bush, iraq, omnipotent+poobah, bring-it-on[/tag]

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  1. 11 Responses to “A Decision Reevaluated”

  2. By Nelson on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    I do understand and agree with some of what you say, Poobah, but there is another solution; a solution that will allow us to fulfill our moral obligation to rebuild a country WE invaded and destroyed in a war of choice. I was against the war from the start, but if we leave Iraq now, the problems in the region will get worse. Like you said, civil war that will undoubtedly spread throughout the region, increased terrorism here and abroad, and who knows what else will be the result if we leave Iraq to its own devices under the current situation. The only option there is to win this war is to call on our traditional allies to support us by creating a truly international force to quell the insurgency and police the country as a whole. All of our allies, whether they want to admit it or not, know that allowing Iraq to become a failed, yet still oil rich state would be a disaster for the entire world. Unfortunately, to get our allies on board would require our current administration to do two things they have shown they are incapabe of doing: admitting to a mistake and asking for help.

    Morally and logically, I was against the war. But sadly now that the blunder has been committed, morally and logically, I am against abandoning Iraq. But there has to be a change in policy and a rethinking of how to win this war, a war WE started.

  3. By Paul Merda on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    Nelson,

    I just don’t see how we can win, no matter how long we stay.  As long as we are there we are only targets for insurgents and as soon as we leave the people of Iraq will begin killing each other en masse whether its today or 20 years from now.  Look at the Balkans as a parallel.  There are still troops in the Balkans trying to keep an impossible peace and when they leave, the killing will begin anew.  You cannot stop a people from hating each other.  The people of the ME have hated each other ever since the split in Islam took place and I don’t see that ending even after generations have passed.  The only answer to me is, we leave, let them fight it out and the last group standing wins. 

  4. By Jersey McJones on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    I see only one way out -

    1: Send in another 350,000 troops, disarm the populace, police every inch of the land, and sit on them until the infrastructure is re-assembled.

    2: Break all private US contracts and reapportion the funding to Iraqi nationals.

    If we don’t do those two things, we will definately fail.  And, since it is obvious that we lack the political will and ethical persuasion to do those two things, respectively, we are definitely going to fail.

    JMJ

  5. By chicago dyke on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    there is no “win” in iraq.

    even if we follow JmJ’s very intelligent advice, too many groups have been empowered by the occupation; the wellspring for real terrorism has been filled once again by the blood of innocents. and we’d need a million troops, not a few hundred thousand, to pacify the country. there are tens of millions of people in iraq; do you think you could pacify CA with even with a force of 500k?

    and even if were were to “pacify” iraq long enough for iraqi armed forces to grow and mature enough to take over the job from us, those same police forces would be (and are currently) deeply inflitrated by all kinds of sectarian groups that hate each other almost as much as they hate us. the minute we left, they start shooting at each other. with the newer, improved arms we bought for them.

    the cronyism over there has also infected iraqi organizations that at one time should’ve received the contracts for rebuilding. basically, a lot of the honest, decent people in iraq with knowhow are fleeing, and positions of authority have been morphed into crony holding pens, dependent upon (again) various sects for support and money. we should not be surprised by this, because we set the tone by sending over 20something political hacks to manage billions. what did we think would happen.

    there’s also iran, who currently enjoys a lot of growing support for the concept of the shia superstate. not all iraqi shias what to be led by iranian theocrats, but many do. iran won’t be leaving iraq, or killing iraqi shias who don’t support them, any time soon.

    there is no “win” in iraq. stay or go, we will continue to suffer troop losses, it’s simply a questions of who those troops are. perhaps an international force of several million and billions of dollars could fix it, but honestly, i doubt it.

    bush killed iraq. never, ever forget that.

  6. By Liberal Jarhead on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    I agree with the spirit of JMJ’s recommendations, but also with CD’s view that the numbers and resources recommended would be insufficient.  To counter 350,000 troops would take only 35,000 active insurgents or guerrillas or whatever we want to call them, and at this point even if that many didn’t exist among the Iraqis themselves, I am afraid that the Islamic fundamentalists and the other governments in the region who, from their own perspectives, have every reason for wanting us to fail - ranging from the Iranians and Syrians to the Russians, who are not happy with a strong US presence - could infiltrate more than that many.  And the end result would be a country even more thoroughly destroyed than it is now, after every square mile of it had been the scene of IEDs, ambushes, and firefights.

    We need to get the moderate Moslem world in there now to start putting things back together, while there still are moderate Moslem governments that haven’t been driven into the arms of Al Qaeda yet.  And if their vision of the desired outcome doesn’t match ours, we’ll have to accept that, as long as it’s something peaceful that isn’t a host site for terrorism.  We need to be prepared to pick up most of the tab, since we started this.  It would still be cheaper than “staying the course.”

    If that can’t happen, we’re facing the possibility that, as happens so often due to human arrogance, we may have created a problem that has no human solution, as the Brits did when they went around the world drawing national boundaries with rulers in ignorance of the natural boundaries that already existed, and when they tried to control places by colonizing them.

    Even if the best of possible outcomes is achieved, Bush and those who supported him will have an infinite amount of suffering to answer for.  He’d better hope that the God he brays about is very different from what the fundamentalists describe, or he’s in trouble.

  7. By Dusty on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    I at first accepted the war, on specific reasons and terms. I know, I have no right to attach terms to what the Decider-in-Chief does, but for me..it was a huge move to the right to even think it, much less say it out loud. In the back of my mind was a strong fear of Vietnam..the lies, and lives wrecked before we cut and run. The whole thing went to shit in my view very quickly. That’s when I got my fat ass off the couch and got active..and I will not stop until every last vestige of our military is out of there. We don’t have the manpower without a draft… But they won’t institute the draft because then all the people will second guess this horror we have created under the guise of the GWOT.

  8. By Jersey McJones on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    I agree with my friends here.  I believe that we could “win,” for whatever that’s worth, with a half million boots on the ground and a more responsible rebuilding plan, but even then, we’d be hard pressed to find a “victory” when all is said and done.

    JMJ

  9. By Rifleman on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    I disagree. Sadam was a threat and woudl continue to be. I didn’t think invading Iraq was such a great idea, but a clear bi-partisan majority voted to authorize it, and there was little the public could do.

    Since then, even without the discovery of large quantities of WMD’s, Sadam  was clearly a threat.

    1) The UN utterly failed to contain Sadam after the first Gulf War. Sadam skimmed BILLIONS off of the Oil for Food program with a few small bribes. CBS news estimated that Sadam had saved and hidden almost 20 Billion dollars worldwide, in spite of economic sanctions. If he had managed to become free of those sanctions, he would have had free reign to rebuild his military.

    2) In spite of Sanctions, Sadam was able to receive forbidden military hardware from Germany, Russia, and France. It is not difficult to figure out that Sadam could have gotten nuclear secrets and ballistic missles from North Korea, just like Iran has.

    3) Sadam tried to assasinate Bush 41 in Kuwait, an act of war, and similarly attempted to shoot down coalition aircraft enforcing the UN mandated no-fly zone.

  10. By Dusty on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    The majority of Americans disagree with you Rifleman with regard to this:“Sadam was a threat and woudl continue to be” .

    They do not see a correlation between the occupation of Iraq and the GWOT. Your opinion according to many recent polls, is in the minority.

    Sadaam was skimming money for himself, not to build his military industrial complex. He did not have grand illusions of war, he was a pig that wanted to be rich and control his own country.  

  11. By ken grandlund on Aug 31, 2006 | Reply

    saddam was a continued threat to his people and perhaps some of the smaller neighboring countries, but in no way was he a threat to the US, except in terms of access to oil. that other nations were duplicitous vis-a-vis the UN sanctions is irrelevant to the fact that going to war in Iraq was little more than a major blunder. jmj offers a failry realistic solution, especially when combined with the observations of LJ.

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