Dear Auntie Pinko,
NOW is it time for us to get out of Iraq?
Yellow Springs, OH
Until very recently, Auntie Pinko was firmly in the "you
break it, you buy it," opinion camp. We entered into a war
of choice in Iraq that resulted in the destruction of a good
deal of that country's crucial infrastructure. The war and
its consequences virtually shut down the economy there, and
left them without the resources to rebuild on their own. No
matter how justified we may have been in ousting a bloodthirsty
murderer from power, that was no excuse for simply walking
away and leaving the mess we made.
This is not to say that I approve of the idea of engaging
in unprovoked, virtually unilateral 'preemptive' war on the
grounds of eliminating bloodthirsty dictators from power.
There are simply too many of them, and deciding which ones
are 'more worthy' of removal, and/or which ones should be
removed 'first,' makes my stomach a bit queasy. The ambiguity
of rushing to "free" the people groaning under the oppression
of a dictator in a state rich in natural resources and/or
strategic importance to the United States, versus ignoring
the pain and suffering of those whose state happens to be
poor and geopolitically insignificant to us, does not paint
a pretty moral picture of the United States.
At this point, that kind of ugly self-interested realpolitik
would be less than helpful to our larger aims in the world.
However, even if you accept the figleaf of undoubted moral
justification for ousting Saddam Hussein as an excuse for
invading Iraq, the notion that we are doing the Iraqi people
any kind of favor at all by remaining in their country - no
matter how diligently our military forces and private contractors
are trying to reconstruct roads, schools, hospitals, power
stations, etc. - is getting a bit threadbare.
When our very presence there provides evil and power-hungry
factions with an excuse to advance their agendas and perpetuate
violence and chaos, it's time to re-examine. Especially since
our own horrific mistakes have added far more power to that
excuse than any faction leader could possibly manage on their
Does that mean we should cut and run? Quit pouring money
down a rat hole? Let the Iraqis stew in the chaos that some
of them have tried so hard to continue?
Certainly not. Our responsibility remains; we must simply
find other ways to fulfill it. Some of those ways might be
difficult or painful; they might carry price tags that we
have been reluctant to pay until now. We might have to engage
overall diplomatic concessions with the more peaceful and
stable nations of the region to form a peacekeeping and rebuilding
coalition. Not an easy task and it would probably involve
putting pressure on Israel-a concept that makes many of our
elected officials very skittish.
We might have to put some of our military forces under the
command of the United Nations, something that is very difficult
for many Americans (including the officers and troops of those
same military forces) to contemplate. We might also have to
pledge large cash allocations and economic concessions to
the rebuilding process. We might have to watch lucrative contracts
go to providers from other nations. All painful prospects,
to say the least.
I am still not entirely certain what this means regarding
"getting out of Iraq." The situation is changing too rapidly
- and unfortunately the changes all seem to be on the side
of entropy. But I am willing to examine the hypothesis that
we might have reached the point where our continued presence
- no matter how well-intentioned, amply funded, and hardworking
- might be more of a liability than an asset to Iraq's recovery.
I hope that America's journalists, scholars, and statesmen
will examine this question in detail, and that the media will
cover all the viewpoints and discussions thoroughly and as
objectively as possible. I'm willing to admit to some uncertainty
right now, and more information - especially from sources
not primarily motivated by partisan agendas from either side
of the aisle - would be useful.
Sorry I couldn't be more definite, Anthea, and thanks for
asking Auntie Pinko!
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