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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Post's Six Part Series on Iraq

The Washington Post has a series of six articles on the consequences of staying or leaving Iraq.
While each makes a point, they are generally concentrated on one point, and not looking at the situation as a whole, which I think is kind of misleading. You do need to read them all to get a complete picture.

• Barbara Bodine: Iraqis Learn
• David Gompert: We Advance Our Cause
• Rami Khouri: Politics Can Evolve

• Gary Anderson: Zarqawi May Be Glad
• Zaki Chehab: No Civil War
• Phebe Marr: A Stable State

Each of the articles has its own twist on the issues. I will break them all down, by Leaving and Staying groups. You will need to click “Read the Whole Post” for the rest of this story, as it is quite long. Remember to click the “HOME” link at the end to post Haloscan Comments.

On the Leaving Side

Barbara Bodine believe the necessity of Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd cooperation to have anything be successful in Iraq is going to be the reason for a successful government in Iraq, but that it can’t happen with the US still there. She’d like us to give them a hard timetable for leaving, to force them to work out the details.

If the functioning of the government was the only reason we were still there, she might make sense. However, we are also there to provide military stability until the country can provide it’s own, and help with the infrastructure that they aren’t capable of building on their own.

David Gompert makes the argument that we actually make it harder to fight the global jihadist’s attitude towards the US by being in Iraq. His withdraw plan is based not on stability, but numbers of Iraqis in the security forces. Basically, if it’s a big security force, we can leave.

His analogy of leaving Viet Nam and being able to concentrate on the Cold War again is flawed, in that we didn’t concentrate on the Cold War for another six years after 1975. Ford and Carter, both still feeling the countries attitudes toward the military basically allowed it to waste away.

His strategy, I believe, would lead not to more US presence in other areas to fight against Muslim extremists, but less. Once we leave Iraq it becomes easier, as a country, to go back to fighting terrorism as a law enforcement issue, not as a “real fight”.

Rami Khouri, writing from Beirut, sees the neighboring countries of Iraq suddenly willing to help with rebuilding, border security, and the other issues that do plague the country currently. His is the most laughable of the reasons to leave, because, in Bob’s never so humble opinion, he’s living in a fantasy world.

Mr. Khouri only need look as far as the city he lives in to know how helpful neighbors like Syria are in that region. It took 20 years after the US and France pulled the multi-national forces from Beirut before Lebanon really started to move towards self governance, and denounced the interference from Syria in their country.

The idea that Syria’s own Ba’athist government would suddenly become helpful in border security, and assist in anything other than trying to return a Ba’athist regime to Iraq is a wonderful thought, which history tells us probably isn’t what will happen.

On The Staying Side

Zaki Chehab believes that a civil war will happen if we withdraw too soon, fed not by the insurgency itself, but aided by it. Instead, by the Sunni’s who believe that de-Ba’athification of Iraq and the dissolution of the Army were aimed directly at limiting them in the new government.

The Sunni want, according to Chehab, to be more included in the government, and want more pressure on the Shiite and Kurd leaders to include them, and work with them.

The fears are probably well founded. They were in power for 25 years, and there are many in the other two camps who would like some payback. We should push whatever elected government comes out of the December 15th elections to make sure that qualified Sunni’s end up in positions of authority in many of the ministries that will be required to make the country work.

Phebe Marr’s reason for staying is to prevent a failed state that could, and probably would, become a safe haven for terrorists, and a destabilizing influence in the whole region.

She has the best quotes of all of the articles, and again in my opinion, probably the truest:

Americans need to develop the patience to see through a difficult task that has
been begun, but is far from complete.
The consequences would reach far beyond the country's borders. A failed state in Iraq would create a long period of instability in an area vital to our own interests

Her article is the only one to look, realistically, at the time involved in getting a stable Iraq, it’s not going to happen before the next news cycle on Fox and CNN.

The process of creating a stable state in Iraq is underway. More realism is needed about what it will take and the time involved. Continuing a good faith effort should allow a gradual drawdown of U.S. forces over the next several years.

The final article, by Gary Anderson, points out that Abu Musab Zarqawi may actually want us to stay. His theory is that the al Qaeda lead forces in Iraq would lose the support of many of the local insurgents, who are fighting only for us to leave.

His hope, I believe, is to make the point that by leaving, the US would actually advance the fight against Zarqawi by getting the locals who now aid him to start working against him.

I’m not sure I buy into the theory, because while that sounds interesting, it still leaves an Iraqi government that many see as an American puppet in power. The former Ba’ath party insurgents would like to see that government fall, again as an embarrassment to the US, which is also a goal of Zarqawi.

His theories on Zarqawi and his ego becoming the problem are probably partially true, but his ego would still be fed by teaming with the Ba’ath resistance, and defeating the newly elected government.

These are my thoughts. I’d like to hear yours. Remember, if you are using Haloscan commenting, you need to hit the “Home” button.

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Blogger Freedomnow said...

I dont even see why there is a debate. If we leave, Iraq unravels.

If those who are for withdrawal were honest they would say, "Iraq cannot be stabilized and we should withdraw from the mess. Let them deal with it, its not our problem."

1:27 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

The reason for the debate is because one side has a severe lack of ideas, therefore they have to build some strawmen to keep the attention off of that fact.

3:53 PM  

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