As the nay-sayers, blame-America crowd and general loony left continue to insist that we bring the troops home from, now, there is a dearth of ideas from that direction as to what, exactly, we should leave behind in Iraq. What will our, and the Iraqis, legacy, be now that the madman Hussein is reduced to washing his pants in his skivvies?s it time for is to leave Iraq? What do we owe Iraq and her people at this point in time?
Foreign Policy magazine asked those questions of five experts, and received five divergent opinions, naturally enough (free registration required to read the full articles). The pieces are by:
-Lawrence F. Kaplan- senior editor at The New Republic and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
-George A. Lopez - senior fellow at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
-Kenneth R. Himes- chair of the theology department at Boston College.
-Jean Bethke Elshtain- professor of social and political ethics at the University of Chicago·s Divinity School.
-Sohail H. Hashmi - associate professor of international relations at Mount Holyoke College
Kaplan turns the questions on their side and asks how practical it would be for the US to withdraw from Iraq immediately. His answer: not very. To quote:
The result would be a strategic catastrophe. Preventing Iraq from coming apart at the seams means preventing the country from becoming what Afghanistan was until recently—a vacuum filled by terrorist organizations, which is what one National Intelligence Council report suggested Iraq is now fast becoming. Only an Iraqi government that possesses a relative monopoly on the means of violence can prevent this outcome. Alas, Iraq’s security forces are nowhere near their goal of fielding sufficient numbers of police, national guard, and soldiers. In the meantime, then, either the U.S. military will fill the gap or no one will.
The rest of the world has already proven that it is willing to let Iraq go up in flames, to ignore the jihadists and Islamofascists who seek civil war in Iraq so they can look down their elitist, European noses and smugly say “we told you Bush the cowboy was wrong.”
Nevertheless, Lopez argues for a scheduled withdrawal from Iraq- with a deadline of about a year, made public and scrupulously adhered to:
The fear that aggressive withdrawal will signal U.S. weakness misses the point. Iraq’s desire to be rid of the occupiers is clear. A January 2005 Zogby opinion poll found that 82 percent of Sunnis and 69 percent of Shiites favor U.S. withdrawal “either immediately or after an elected government is in place.” Withdrawing in the face of such strong national consensus is not a policy of weakness but one of appropriate deference to the wishes of the Iraqi people. And through its subsequent actions, the United States ultimately will be able to determine how that withdrawal is judged. A continued commitment to economic aid an d to the political choices Iraqis make for themselves will provide ample positive data for history. A U.S. withdrawal would be a victory of good sense over exaggerated fears.
While I fully support the will of the Iraqi people and am loathe to ever imply that a government, any government, knows more than the people it governs, there is no Iraqi government in place. It is that simple. They are working, to be sure, to establish such a government, and should soon have one. Until then it is reprehensible to abandon the people of Iraq to the not so tender mercies of the thugs who are blowing up the people, on a near daily basis.
As Himes says:
Accordingly, the United States and its allies must not depart until basic social institutions are in place or until it is clear that occupying forces are either unwanted or unable to contribute to the creation of those institutions. For those Americans eager for their country to get out of Iraq, it is tempting to argue that the U.S. presence is the cause of the insurgency and that withdrawal is already ethically proper. But that is only half correct: The insurgents will oppose any non-Sunni-dominated government, and the present Iraqi security forces are still unable to maintain order.
Many would argue that our forces are already clearly not wanted there- and they are correct. The powers in the region that oppose democracy, equal rights and the opportunity for the Iraqi people to have a better life do not want our troops there. They want chaos, and a primitive society ruled over by warlords and religious zealots.
Elshtain charts a proper path for the future of the allied forces in Iraq:
The countries responsible for the postwar situation bear a major burden in repairing infrastructural and environmental harm that is the direct result of military operations. Civilian affairs teams should first concentrate on the basic necessities of life—water and electricity, and then schools, hospitals, and other basic institutions of civic order. Repairing the political infrastructure is just as essential to creating a just peace. That means leaving the people in the invaded country, as well as the wider international environment, in better shape than before the intervention. Installing legitimate authority in Iraq is a delicate balancing act.
Iraq was “broken” before we toppled Saddam, but that is no excuse for us to withdraw and leave the country a war-ruptured shambles. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and the region at this juncture. Elshtain again:
The occupying powers must also provide defense and security. If a country has been disarmed, the occupying power has taken on responsibility for its security and protection from external and internal enemies. How long this provision will be, and how extensive, will depend on the threats it faces and the speed with which Iraq can rebuild its own defense and internal security capability.
Finally, the occupying powers must react if yet another Saddam-type regime of fear begins to emerge. Even as the United States protected postwar Western Europe—including a new democratic state in West Germany—throughout the Cold War and decades of bipolarity, so the United States must remain tightly tied to a new Iraq.
Iraq clearly still faces threats- perhaps external but violently manifested internally. Can there be any doubt that al-Zaraqwi would establish a rule as heinous as that of Saddam and sons? What then, is the solution? Inevitably we will withdraw from Iraq, at least the preponderance of our forces. Who and what will replace them? In the most compelling of the five pieces Hashmi offers this:
As the United States struggles for the best way to get out of Iraq, the Muslim world should contemplate how to get in.
Muslim troops approved by the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference should replace American, British, and other European forces as interim peacekeepers until Iraqi security forces are properly trained. This force cannot come from countries neighboring Iraq, which might have their own designs on its territory, but it could draw on troops from Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan, or Bangladesh.
Muslim leaders have an obligation to avoid the mistakes they committed in the lead-up to the U.S. intervention in Iraq, not just in 2003 but in 1991 as well. They had an obligation to isolate and to remove the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein when he attacked Iran, terrorized his own people, and invaded Kuwait. Yet for decades, Arab leaders either did nothing or actively supported Saddam. Their action and inaction made U.S. intervention all too easy.
More than making it easy, I would argue that they made it necessary, and are continuing to make it pointless for the U.S. and our allies to think of “getting out” of Iraq. I want our troops home, and I am more than certain that they want to come home. But they are there today because the job was not finished the first time. We failed to uphold our promise to the people of Iraq under the President’s father, and the situation degenerated. Is there anyone out there today who thinks that leaving Iraq tomorrow will result in a better future for the Iraqis, the Middle East or America? I would love for them to tell me how that can come to be.
Until that time we owe it to the people of Iraq and the ME to see the job through. I would welcome, right now, the assistance of the Muslim world in stabilizing the country and hunting down the invading terrorists, but I will not hold my breath waiting for them to arrive. In the meantime we must continue to hunt down and kill those who would slaughter women and children and the men who would become policemen and guardsmen. That was the promise that we made after the first Gulf War, and after Saddam fell. America, my America, keeps its promise. For too long we allowed the forces of darkness free reign, as long as it was in their own yard. We have since learned that what grows in another’s yard will eventually cross the fence, and it can be lethal. The answer is never a better fence- it is always to assist in the destruction of that which is a threat to everyone. Even if some of us refuse to recognize it as a threat.