Friday, September 14, 2007

For Those Of You Wondering, Yes, I Am Commenting On Bush's Iraq "Withdrawal" Plan

It seems that the intense pressure from his critics, his supporters, his advisors, military leaders, the 2008 Presidential hopefuls, the Senate, the Congress, political analysts, the Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention, the overwhelming majority of Americans, and the world community at large has finally broken Bush. He's actually doing something in regards to the Iraq "situation" that doesn't involve throwing more soldiers at it to die.

Of course, when I first read two days ago that Bush proposed a drastic force reduction in Iraq, I was excited that he had finally come to his senses, but I was also wary. My initial reaction was actually one of scorn, because I was certain that this new proposal was nothing more than a political ploy to make himself and his party look a little better in the face of the upcoming elections next year. The Democrats are essentially all on board offering Americans the main thing they want to hear, that no matter who they vote for, the majority of troops will be recalled from Bush's grand vision and redeployed doing something that might actually benefit the country of America. As long as a Democrat gets elected, Americans are pretty well guaranteed this. The Republican candidates are not quite as swift on the uptake. Only about half of them are promising a substantial troop withdrawal from Iraq, despite that it's clearly what the majority of Americans want and probably the most important campaign issue in the upcoming Presidential election.

If a Democrat gets elected, and at this point there's almost no way a Democrat won't get elected, considering that Bush has single-handedly obliterated America's trust in the Republican party for at least until we get an incredibly inept and particularly uncharismatic Democrat in office, we're more than likely going to see a troop withdrawal from Iraq because it would be political suicide to make such a promise on such an important campaign issue and then not deliver once elected. When I first read the news of Bush's proposal of a troop reduction, I was certain that it was nothing more than him trying to steal the Democrats' thunder. He wanted to give Americans what they most desire before the Democrats have a chance to possibly look better in the eyes of the citizens than himself.

However, as great an aspiration as that may be, it turned out to actually not be the case. Actually, Bush's proposed "troop reduction" is nothing more than an end to the troop surge he proposed at the beginning of this year. Essentially, they will be reducing the presence of American forces in Iraq, but it will only be to the numbers that were there in January, which if I remember right, without checking any sources, was somewhere around a fuck of a lot. So many of the soldiers who have to suffer literally years of condemnation to this hell with only one or two months a year to see their families will be lucky enough to remain there indefinitely as a reward for all their hard work and dedication.

Technically, this is exactly what was promised. An end to the surge is, technically, a reduction of forces, but really it's only a reduction of an increase. Although not technically a lie, the wording of the announcement was misleading once the actual context was revealed, so the administration got everyone's hopes up for next to nothing. The bad news is that the troop reduction won't be as massive as first conceived. The good news is that the Democratic hopefuls still have their bargaining chip for the key issue on their platforms. What doesn't even amount to news is that, yet again, Bush misled the American people. Even if it is a minor issue, a deceitfully unclear message is a deceitfully unclear message.

Various politicians and military leaders have contended that the problem in Iraq is not a problem that military force can solve. It's a political and diplomatic problem, and as Senator Jack Reed said in his response, our troops are caught in the crossfire of another country's civil war. Barrack Obama has said that reducing the American presence in the country would put pressure on the political leaders to reach a diplomatic solution, and I know other politicians agree with this position. One way to look at the situation is that as long as our forces are present to police the country, there's no urgency to end the violence. Take away the safety net, and the urgency suddenly becomes much more clear and present.

Should we leave the country to its own devices? Absolutely not. We do need to keep a presence in the country and have a hand in cleaning up the mess our illustrious leader has made of it. We need to appeal to the world community that our invasion of the country was primarily the result of an overzealous President and a nation of citizens so gripped with fear that they were willing to accept anything that promised their own safety, even if it did turn out to be nothing more than a burlap sack of lies, and we need to ask them for help in cleaning up the mess we made. Perhaps if we could be figuratively man enough to admit our mistake, the other national powers might be more cooperative than they are right now with our current leader's standoffish approach.

Most of all, we need to enlighten and convince the Iraqi people to want to help themselves. We need to show them the values of tolerance and peace instead of the prejudice and violence we have been demonstrating. You may recall an
article I posted a month and a half ago about the downfall of Iraq's medical facilities following the invasion. One of the first shocking quotes I highlighted was from a military nurse, who wished to remain anonymous (because otherwise she'd probably be court martialed), testifying that the Iraqi police we were training were moonlighting as insurgents. When America went through its Revolutionary War, the citizens wanted to break free of its oppression. I know many Iraqis want to be free, but they also want their particular sect to dominate the others. That desire for dominance breeds the corruption that we're seeing in the elected officials and the police officers, and it leads to the violent insurgency and terrorism that has not really decreased since the invasion began. As some point, they will need to learn to get along with each other, but until that time comes, there will not be much we can do to help them.

Finally, I heard a commentator mentioning following Bush's speech last night and the Democratic response that if the next President is indeed Democratic and that President redeploys our forces out of Iraq and the country becomes unstable, it will be viewed as the Democrats who lost the country. I disagree with that analysis. The country is already lost, and it will be lost until they decide they want to help themselves. If we pull our troops out tomorrow, the Iraqi people wouldn't be much worse off than they were before we invaded, and they're not going to be much better off the longer we remain. The only exception might be that the only person strong enough to keep the nation relatively stabilized for the past thirty years has been executed, but really his life expectancy wasn't much longer anyway. Even if he'd lived, Iraq would have likely faced the same scenario in less than a decade.

When America demanded our independence from the British, the French helped us kick out the British, and then they left us to police and govern ourselves because we were willing to do so. Much of Iraq has yet to be willing. When America left Vietnam, we realized that our presence in the country was not going to deliver them stability because it was not something that their leaders truly wanted. They wanted power in lieu of stability. We admitted our defeat and left them to their own devices. In this way, Iraq is much a mirror of Vietnam. We went into Vietnam to fight the spread of Communism. We went into Iraq to fight terrorism. We left Vietnam because we could not restabilize the country. We can't restabilize Iraq. Vietnam is slowly starting to rebuild and participate in the world economy. Perhaps, if we put the pressure on Iraq's government, they will adapt as well.

At any rate, it wouldn't be the Democrats to fail Iraq in that worst-case scenario. It would be the man who stirred the pot in the first place, and the leaders of the country itself. We have a country of our own to protect, and we cannot continue to stretch our forces to the limits and expose this weakness to the eyes of the world. If one nation decides to jump, we need to be prepared to respond, and there are several nations right now feeling froggy. The money we're denying veterans, education, and health programs in our own country to fund the war could be better spent, and our soldiers could be better used actually neutralizing threats against our own country.

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