The majority of the nation is officially against the Iraq War. A few Americans mourn for loved ones lost to the roiling maelstrom of warfare, but most are simply tired of hearing of those honorable few who have given up their lives to preserve the once idealistic principles with which our great nation is imbued. I am among the second category. So let no one say that I do not support the soldier or the nation. I am humbled to be protected by the former and honored to be sheltered by the latter.
That being said, we should leave Iraq immediately.
First, why did we go there? To find WMDs, of course. So there weren’t any – that’s okay; Iraq did fund al Qaeda. Of course, a mountain of CIA intelligence (and the president himself) states that al Qaeda never had any affiliation with Hussein’s administration. That’s all right though – Hussein was just generally a “bad guy.”
So we crushed his regime, accepted his army’s surrender as we drove by at 45 mph, killed his sons (and grandsons), captured most of his Baathist elite and hanged the man.
Now what? No WMDs, no al Qaeda, no Hussein. The people of Iraq run out to thank us while a cautious few nod their heads toward the door. “Thanks for you help,” they say, “Here’s a Mission Accomplished banner for the wife, now go home to the two and a half kids.”
But do we go? No. There are grander schemes at work. Iraq, a nation that has persisted in its unshakable religious faith for centuries in the face of Mongols, Romans and Barbarians of all sorts, must now suddenly do an about-face and adopt the grand philosophies of the West. The idea is laughable and suggests great ignorance on the part of its originator. You cannot change a man’s lifelong faith and beliefs overnight by a pointing a gun at his head and telling him that you know better – nor do you have the right to.
But let’s say we resolve to try. Well, then, you are going to need a lot of men with a lot of guns who will absolutely smother any possible insurgency right at the bud when there are only a handful of revolutionaries. Three to five hundred thousand men are needed for such a task according to General Eric Shinseki – shortly before his impromptu resignation. But we aren’t willing to make that commitment.
Okay, so we want to achieve the impossible but don’t allocate the resources to do it (sounds familiar). Well now things go awry, don’t they? There is a tiny, yet extremely powerful, foreign occupying force in a country. The occupiers aren’t numerous enough to effectively control the territory. The occupied aren’t strong enough to oust their occupiers. So we are at a militaristic impasse. One side sends out a bee sting to pinch the other. The aggrieved launches a tactical air strike and vaporizes three city blocks. Somewhere in the rubble, a newly orphaned young child pushes aside the bricks, puts down his beloved Power Ranger and walks down the street to the radical cleric we were actually trying to kill. Another dedicated soldier for the Jihad is born. Ever wonder where suicide bombers come from?
So begins a pattern which military experts of all shapes and sizes agree is an irreconcilable military quagmire. Our very presence in the country is, by itself, in defiance of conventional military wisdom, strengthening the cause of the enemy that, prior to our invasion of Iraq, had hardly even been present in the country. The longer we stay in Iraq, the more effectively we prove to those on the sidelines that we are just as barbaric and devilish as the terrorists make us out to be. And why shouldn’t people think that? Would you think highly of a foreign military force strolling through your streets harassing your womenfolk and elders at gunpoint for no obvious reason? Would a few candy bars thrown jeeringly from the side of a tank excuse the massive interruption of your life? I think not.
The U.S. military is not in the wrong. It is doing the best it can with the resources it has.
But now, the insurgency has spread, the country is sliding towards civil war and the military juggernaut is tied down by bureaucracy and diplomatic handicaps, unable to do what a military is supposed to do. So it is getting stung, a little every day – we can see it on CNN in high definition.
At this point, there are only two military solutions: quadruple the number of soldiers to establish iron-tight control of the Sunni triangle and snuff everything that moves, or nuke the place. Neither of those options is going to happen. So, we leave.
Militarily, we have met with resounding success. Hundreds of thousands of insurgents and bystanders alike are dead. We have annihilated anything related to the Baathist party, there are no WMDs, Hussein and his entire bloodline have been vanquished to history.
There is nothing more we can do militarily. We cannot hope to ever defeat the current insurgency with the existing tactics. Iraq has plenty of guns, plenty of ammo and plenty of itchy trigger fingers.
As for the chaos that will ensue following our departure, it is regrettable, but also unavoidable. Hundreds of people are being massacred in the back door civil war that already rages. We have proved incapable of stopping it now – what will change in six months? The future holds only more death, more disgrace, more failed elections and more violence.
As long as the United States military resides on Iraqi soil, there will never be peace.
Scary – that sounds like something you would hear from a masked man with a scimitar on Al Jazeera. How sad that it also happens to be true.
Singh is a member of the class of 2008.