Is it Time to Get Out of Iraq?
by Alan Caruba
03 May 2004
What do you do when the people you want to help don’t want you to help?
For some time now
I have been writing that the United States needed to get into the Middle
East and “drag it into the 21st century.” A nice turn of phrase, but rhetoric
does little to change a culture that has been around since the seventh century
when Islam began and goes back millennia to the biblical days of the nomadic
tribes conjuring up new religions.
What do you do, however, when the people you want to help don’t want you
to help? Or are fearful of helping themselves if the price is being killed
by the enemies of their new freedom?
The Bush Administration is making much of turning over sovereignty on June
30th, but it needs to be a true sovereignty, the right of Iraqis to run their
own nation. The transformation will take awhile and we may well be there
a long time. (We still have a military presence in both Japan and Germany.)
We will have to guarantee that effort. It will be worth it. As I have written
in the past, the road to the end of Islamic terrorism runs through Baghdad,
Damascus, Riyadh, and ultimately, Tehran.
The United States of America either has the guts to fight on to the end in
the very heart of the region that most threatens us or we shall surely suffer
a worse fate if we do not. It is no small irony that we have managed to do
something even the Muslims could not. We have united the Sunnis and the Shi’ites
against us. We have given the entire Middle East an endless series of events
with which to portray us as the new infidel “crusaders” that have invaded
their sacred lands.
At this crossroads in the Middle East wars, we know we have the firepower,
but we don’t know if we have patience to see events through to a true victory.
That is one thing of which the Arabs have plenty. Remember how Osama bin
Laden waited from 1993 until 2001 to finally bring down the Twin Towers after
the first failed attempt? Consider how long the Palestinians and all the
other surrounding nations of the Middle East have been waiting to destroy
the Israelis? Over a half century!
We have liberated Iraq. Saddam and his brutal regime are gone. There is much
resistance from a small percentage of the population and some who have joined
the insurgents from elsewhere. Our military is stretched thin. In addition
to our regular forces, we are using National Guard and Reserves to fight
a war in a country the size of California. We can’t even drive their highways
without suffering casualties. They know it. We know it. The enemy will test
our resolve in every way possible.
Though I personally would have already bombed them until the rubble bounced,
we have not invaded the “holy cities” of Fallujah or Najah. These places
are so “sacred” they stockpiled weapons in their mosques! For now our generals
wait on orders that may well determine the future of the conflict in Iraq.
In the Middle East, force is understood and respected. This observer does
not see a peaceful alternative.
We are between a rock and a hard place right now. The US dares not be perceived,
like the Spanish, as having left out of fear. I don’t think most Americans
would find that acceptable. So long as we remain, however, we will be Iraq’s
“occupiers.” This is unsatisfying to everyone and recent polls in Iraq indicate
the Iraqis want the US to leave. It is doubtful, if not impossible, for the
Iraqis to form a new, democratic government and to secure it without our
Senator Kerry gave a speech recently saying we have to “internationalize”
the war, bring in other nations, NATO, et cetera. Even he can’t really believe
we are going to achieve this. Neither the French, the Germans, the Russians,
nor the Chinese are going to join this effort. What bothers me even more
is that just a week earlier he was saying he was behind the White House despite
his criticisms. This guy changes his mind so much and so fast he must bump
into himself when he turns a corner.
Is it time to leave Iraq? Our nation’s safety and the great challenge of
the Islamic fanaticism bred in the Middle East argues against this. I recall
the Vietnam War and I am not comfortable with the occasional feelings of
déjà vu, but I don’t think Americans will accept the taste
of defeat again and leaving now would be a defeat.
Alan Caruba is the author of Warning Signs, published by Merril Press. His weekly commentaries are posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.
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