19 February 2007

The Unfortunate, All Too Binding, Iraq Situation…

The United States of America is in Iraq. That is the cold, hard fact. No matter how you feel about how we got into this mess, the fact remains that we are there now. And no amount of hindsight will alter that fact (even if you are running for president). It does not matter if you are a democrat or a republican. It does not matter how you voted. It does not matter if you are a liberal, conservative, green, libertarian, or independent. It does not matter if you were for or against the war in Iraq. It does not matter what the reason for going into Iraq was. WE, as AMERICANS, are solely responsible for success or defeat in Iraq. The world does not care if you are pacifist, an atheist, a born again Christian, a vegetarian, or a redneck. You are seen as an American, and Americans have the responsibility to see that we leave Iraq better than before we went into Iraq.

Many mistakes have been made by foolish men who had little understanding of that region. That said, we need to look at the big picture of the region as it stands now and not just the blood and treasure that America is losing everyday. We need to realize that there are many people out there counting on America to get Iraq done and get it done right. My problem with the democrats is the problem I have with the republicans. Every thing boils down to the least common denominator - how it impacts the re-election efforts of the politicians and how much damage they can inflict on the opposing party. They could care less what really matters to the future of this country (if they did we would not have these ill-conceived social programs that we cannot afford or an education system that leaves our children ill-equipped to compete in the global economy – other topics for another day). We are there and we need to figure out how we can best help to provide a stable Iraq - if that is even possible, I am not sure. We also need to get Iran and Syria to stop meddling in Iraq as well. Iran and Syria are adding gasoline to the fire because it suits their interests in making America look weak. The democrats (and some republicans) and the media are doing their part by fanning the flames of discontent here. Discontent spread here adds fuel to the insurgent engine by making them think they are succeeding. Cutting and running (call it redeployment if you want) allows Syria and Iran to win and makes us look very weak in the eyes of the Arabs. But politicians rarely care about the over reaching impacts of their decisions or sound bites. All they care is doing what is best for their re-election efforts, presidential bids, and lobbyists.

Has the war been grossly mismanaged? YES. Is the situation becoming worse? In some parts of Iraq it is. Does the dissent in the United States undermine our efforts? Definitely. Think about in terms of the hype before a big football game. If the other team says something about their opponent it may get posted in the opponent’s locker room as a motivator. When senators like Harry Reid spout off at the blow hole you can be damn sure it gets posted in an insurgent locker room in Iraq.

The editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report, Mortimer B Zucherman, stated in a 22 January 2007 editorial that “American forces … cannot stop this sectarian war. The Iraqis must do it.” But “nothing good can happen without security, which is the sine qua non for success.” “We cannot just turn our backs on Iraq and hope for the best.”

A story on NPR the morning of 8 February 2007 was about the sectarian violence. The NPR correspondent interviewed a Shiite. The Shiite spoke of militias and their efforts to wipe out Sunnis (I am sure that some of that is also going on against the Shiites). But this Shiite was protecting other Sunnis. The interview ended with the Shiite stating that he wanted Baghdad flooded with American troops to provide peace and stability.

Now we have two options. We pack up and leave and watch Iraq spiral out of control into chaos, or we provide security until that indeterminate time at which the Iraqis can find peace among themselves. The situation is not going to miraculously be solved in the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn in the microwave or in the span of a 60 minute TV show or 90 days or 9 months. Despite what President Bush claimed at the beginning, anyone with real common sense knew this would take years or decades. I knew it. Could we bring Iraq back from the brink of all out collapse? Maybe or maybe not; but we owe to it the Iraqis, to the world, and to future generations of Americans to try with ALL our will and not a fraction less.

Winston Churchill once said “Once you are so unfortunate as to be drawn into a war, no price is too great to pay for an early and victorious peace.”

What exactly does a non-binding resolution accomplish? Does it not mean anything to these democrats and few republicans when General Patreous says a congressional resolution against a troop build up in Iraq essentially emboldens the enemy? They say they support the troops, but a vote for the non-binding resolution is a vote against the troops in my opinion. A vote to defund the war effort is a vote against the troops. We did not learn a damn thing from Vietnam. We did not learn that when it comes to war, we should not let the politicians make operational decisions. The only thing we learned from Vietnam was to not call our troops “baby killers” and to not spit on them when they come back to America. It is amazing that we learned anything.

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