Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why we can't leave Iraq...and why we have to leave Iraq

I'm going to diverge from the larger democratic blogocracy here for a moment, something's that's not altogether uncommon, I suppose. Just about now, the "Left" is advocating a faster pullout from Iraq and, as of yet, I have not heard anything that would resemble what I would refer to as a "detailed" plan. Instead, I perceive this call to withdraw as tapping into a groundswell of opposition to the Iraq war, a belief that staying can't stop the insurgency, and a sense of helplessness in it all.

I understand that because I feel it too. However, I don't think pulling out is a solution at all, in fact, I believe it's probably the worst possible decision to make. Like most decisions, it's a bad idea to pull the trigger based on a rather emotional reaction to a set of circumstances, as this post seems to suggest. Instead, dispassionate analysis is best and that's what I strive for. This doesn't mean I disagree with the abject horror of some of the artrocities that are ongoing in Iraq nor does it mean I "support the war". In fact, I have utter contempt for the way politicians and the media characterize the war as a black/white dualism - as if it was impossible to see shades of gray in complex issues.

No, instead, I see the "war" as something of our own making - and something that we have to try to fix. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for politicians scoring political points against the GOP/Neo-Con "invasion as democracy promotion" people. Ideologically, those people made the same mistakes that the Wilsonians made with the League of Nations - i.e. seeing the world as they want to see it, not as it truly is. Instead, my point is, this is the hand we're dealt and we have to find a solution to an impossible problem. And, ultimately, pushing for an early withdrawal is, in my best analysis, counterproductive.

One thing seems very clear from afar about Iraq: US forces are the only buffer between gross bloodshed and outright genocide. It doesn't take a genious to realize that when two racially, ethnically, or religiously different groups are vieing for power, genocide soon follows. Sudan, Rwanda, Bosnia, the Khmer Rouge, Turkey, etc. are all shining examples from the 2oth Century that when domestic factions are unchecked, the grossest and most inhumane violations of human rights follow AND the world does nothing. In fact, the only action that can be said to have "stopped genocide" occured between 1942-1945 and that was because of larger national interests, namely Germany's threat to the world.

So, as I see it, if we pullout now, the violence will not only get worse, but large segments of the Sunni population will simply be killed for being Sunni, the UN would do nothing, and that blood would be on our hands. Thus, when I hear democrat types pushing for fast and complete withdrawal, I cringe, because, while serving US domestic interests, withdrawal is a death sentence for hundreds of thousands of people.

Ultimately, the question comes down to this: As a people or nation, whose lives do we value more, Iraqi or American? Sadly, the answer to that questions is generally American, but Iraq is different. This is a war of our making, sold on both security and altruistic grounds, and we have a responsibility to ourselves and the Iraqi population to do whatever is necessary to restore order and prevent further bloodshed. Sunday's "escalation of sectarian violence" should be all the warning we need about the future of Iraq sans US forces. Ducking and running, isn't going to lead to peace. Just ask the Somalies.

The flip side, of course, is that staying won't work. I actually believe that to be true. I'm fairly convinced that US presence as an "occupier" of Iraq is fueling terrorist recruitment and acts of violence. The longer the US is perceived as an "occupying" force, the easier it is for undemocratic, pseudo-religious warlords to justify their campaign as "impelling foreign heathens" instead of warring for control of an oil rich nation. However, in the long run, if the US stays, we'll suffer sufficient casualties that the President won't be able to sell the war to the people and we'll scram out of there as fast as possible (especially after Bush leaves and it becomes some else's war).

In occupying a country, there's a negative feedback as well. Mentally, emotionally, and physically, the US military is not designed or trained to be a passifying or peacekeeping force. After years of war, occupation, brutal injuries and fatalities, the morale of US forces appears to be waning. The alleged rape of a Iraqi girl by US soldiers in March coupled with this week's retaliation on two US soldiers, for example, demostrates that an occupying force can behave in atypical, illegal, and gross fashion. This latest incident isn't the first and if we stay, it won't be the last. These types of human rights violations perpetrated by our troops are merely mimicking those which happened in Vietnam (Mai Lai, for example). If history is any guide, this will get worse over time.

So, if we can't leave and we can't stay, what can we do? Well, I think there's only one solution and that's to tuck our tails between our legs and go to the UN, NATO, or any other organization with peacekeeping and nation building experience. The only way for us to get out is if something else goes in afterwards. If that means we have to pay for it or sign the International Criminal Court or something else the GOP majority finds untasteful, so be it. We have a collective moral and ethical responsibility to the people of Iraq to do whatever it takes to ensure that our departure doesn't result in instanteanous genocide.

I don't know if such a scheme could work. I don't know if the UN, NATO, or any other organization could play a productive roll in establishing and keeping the peace in Iraq. But at least an internationally approved peacekeeping force would have independent legitimacy with no vested interests other than preventing genocide.

I doubt we'll have the opportunity with the Bush administration. I believe he has burned too many international bridges and the internal, ideological power struggle between the Cheneyites and the realists isn't going to end. Instead, I think our first opportunity will come with the next President - Democrat or Republican. If we're still in Iraq at the point, I fully expect that withdrawal will be imminent. In fact, I expect it to be an election issue. Thus, I truly hope and pray that the next administration will have the testicular fortitude to swallow their pride and turn to the international community for solutions. The alternative is the next greatest genocide of the 21st Century.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Political Favorites
Guilty Pleasures
My Global Position