As debate on an ‘exit strategy’ for Iraq continues on (and on and on) the one thing that strikes me is how both political parties are completely missing the point. The end result is that we end up with the two large parties slugging it out for political gain, leaving the real needs for Iraq, the US and the Middle East twisting in the wind.
As most of you already know, I was a supporter of the war in Iraq. I had long called for the removal of Saddam Hussein as the leader of the country for a large number of reasons, many of them listed here.
To sum them up, he was a threat to his people, his region and to the western world, including the US. There has been attempts to paint his running of Iraq as being ‘neutered and contained’ but reality shows that this was not the case.
However, leaving that aside, what has happened since his removal has been a complete failure. The Bush administration wrongly felt that the populace would welcome Americans with open arms. This was a strange assumption considering this his own father is the one who left them out to die after they attempted to overthrow Hussein previously. Trusting us would be a hard and difficult process. This would be harder considering the huge media coverage of people like Ted Kennedy and Michael Moore who were giving them every reason not to trust us as well, all for the desire to either political damage President Bush in the run up to the 2004 elections or potentially get him removed from office earlier, a long stated goal of the far left for several years before.
Since that time much talk of an ‘exit strategy’ has been batted around, as if one was a requirement for doing what needed to be done. It would have been nice to have one, but we didn’t have one in WWII and that turned out ok in the long run. The aftermath of war is almost impossible to predict.
On one side, we have a group of people saying that a hard date needs to be made. After this date we would bring all of our troops home. Well, that’s just an example of why people like this shouldn’t be running a military, this just opens up the troops to be target practice. You’ve just provided your enemies with a date they need to hold out until and by what date they need to make the most impact to achieve their goals.
On the other side, we have a group of people saying that no date at all can be set, that we’ll return the troops home ‘when it’s time’ without defining at all what this time is. All this does is tell the citizens of the country you are in that you may be there forever, as an occupying force, and they had better get use to it.
You can see the damage that both sides have caused. In come the foreign fighters on one hand, trying to do as much damage as possible in the hopes that a date will be set. On the other hand are the local citizens who start to feel as if they have just been saved from one oppressive dictator just to be placed under the yoke of another. They reluctantly join forces with the foreign fighters in order to try and repel those occupiers from their homes.
The proper way of dealing with this is to make a clear statement of the conditions that need to be met before we withdraw. By doing this, you are telling the local citizens that you have no intention of staying forever and as they work with you in the process and stop the violence, the sooner you will be leaving the country in their hands. You have to set several of these goals out and meet each one, pulling back as you meet them in order to regain the trust of the community, the trust we destroyed a decade previous.
Unfortunately, that would require people to do what is best for their country, not their party, which as we can see with how the aftermath of war has shown us is a hard thing to do. In the meantime, we continue to appear as if we have no clue what we are doing and preventing any confidence in our ability to act in a reasonable manner from being fostered. All while a feeding frenzy of the ‘I told you so’s continues in the national and international media for the entire world to see.