I am going to admit something here that I have been considering privately for the last year or so, ever since it became evident that, not only were things going very badly in Iraq, but very badly, we had and continue to have no idea of what victory might look like, and it is making our own country less secure.
I want us out of Iraq. I absolutely detest the idea that the men and women of our military are dying and are suffering horribly even when they aren’t maimed for life, all because of the blinding stupidity and hubris of a few individuals of this country who came to power in this country with a pre-formed agenda and who will lie and manipulate facts and emotions in order to do whatever the hell they want to. I hate that. We are not accomplishing anything good over there. All the commentary and reporting I have seen on this, some of it from some ex-high level military and government people, is that our only option is to give up on this pie-in-the-sky idea of a democratic Iraq being a beacon in the Middle East which serves as the tipping point for the entire region. We must now accept whatever we can figure out might be the course that will do the least harm.
That is the rub with me. The “least harm” from whose perspective? I want the military out as soon as possible. But I also believe that if we were to just pull out totally, like we did in Vietnam, the situation on the ground in Iraq will go from very, very bad to much, much worse. Yes, it’s pretty much anarchy now, with death squads from each side roaming freely and doing whatever they want to with the innocent civilians on the other side. We are not going to cure the fact that the deep animosity that the Sunni and the Shia have for each other, not to mention the Kurds. The most that can be done, I believe, is to keep them from slaughtering each other in a wanton fashion.
The problem is, how do we do that? Can it even be done? I doubt it. But I also think that the U.S. military is currently acting as some sort of brake on Iraq. We have seen what such hatred spawns when unchecked in the Balkans after the breakup of the Soviet Union and its’ satellite state of Yugoslavia. Are we to just pull out and leave the Iraqi people, many innocent people who just want to be left alone to live their lives without the constant threat of violence, to the same fate?
That does seem totally immoral from our perspective. We are not going much good in Iraq right now, many very knowledgeable people are saying our presence is making things much worse. But what is going to happen if we leave? I am not at all worried about “emboldening the enemy”, another emotional catchphrase of the Bush administration. I am worried about the people we would be leaving behind. This isn’t about terrorists wanting to harm the U.S. This is about unleashing Pandora’s Box among the Iraqi people. George Bush and his cronies are responsible for this. They are the ones that opened the door by invading the country without provocation and without the slightest idea what would come of it. Our country, the United States of America, was the cause of this. And to just pull out by saying “Well, you’re on your own. Sorry this didn’t work out” is heartless and cruel. We went in without a plan, and now we are probably going to leave without a plan. Many more tens of thousands of Iraqis will die until things are “sorted out”, just the way they were “sorted out” in Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Croatia. It was an incredibly bloody and brutal 10 years for those people. Are we going to wish the same on the Iraqi people?
This isn’t even getting into the political situation and what could happen on the world stage. Iraq and the Middle East, unlike the Balkans, is hugely important strategically. It is in the middle of a pressure cooker, with Israel and the Palestinian conflict in the middle of it. Iran is a growing threat and wants nuclear weapons. The Middle East is sitting on top of the greatest reserve of oil the world has left. Fundamentalists who desire nothing more than to destroy their enemies and make the world into a Muslim theocracy are exerting more and more influence each passing day in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Egypt. Turkey is most likely not going to accept having a Kurdish state sitting on its’ southern border.
In short, it is hard to imagine the situation being any worse than it is now. The conflict in the Balkans, bad as it was, was at least self-contained. It didn’t really affect world events. This is not the case in Iraq and the Middle East. Things could spiral out of control on “the Big Stage” very quickly. Yet Bush and his minions have no clue other than to keep doing what we have been doing, which is patently obvious to anyone with a brain that it isn’t working.
That is why I am torn. “Least harm” for whom? What are the ramifications if we pull out? It doesn’t matter if we pull out slowly or all at once; the results will pretty much be the same if we don’t have a game plan on how to control the logical outcome of this situation. What are we going to do?
That is why I get furious when I hear how the Democrats “don’t have a plan” for Iraq. I have actually heard of several. Whether or not any of them would actually do any good, I do not know. But it isn’t like they don’t have “a plan”. On the other hand, we know, for a fact, that the Republicans have no clue of what they are doing and haven’t for the last six year. They have proven themselves to be incompetent, corrupt, cynical, and will do anything just to remain in power. How could giving the Democrats a chance to act as oversight to this mayhem be any worse than what we have now?
We are all in a very, very dire situation and the Bush administration has been lying to the people about the real situation. We have no idea really how to extricate ourselves without unleashing total anarchy. By electing a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress would at least put some people in some sort of oversight role who at least acknowledge that we are in deep trouble.