The Grand delusion about defeat in Iraq

Robert Kagen:

It's quite a juxtaposition. In Iraq, American soldiers are finally beginning the hard job of establishing a measure of peace, security and order in critical sections of Baghdad -- the essential prerequisite for the lasting political solution everyone claims to want. They've launched attacks on Sunni insurgent strongholds and begun reining in Moqtada al-Sadr's militia. And they've embarked on these operations with the expectation that reinforcements will soon be on the way: the more than 20,000 troops President Bush has ordered to Iraq and the new commander he has appointed to fight the insurgency as it has not been fought since the war began.

Back in Washington, however, Democratic and Republican members of Congress are looking for a different kind of political solution: the solution to their problems in presidential primaries and elections almost two years off. Resolutions disapproving the troop increase have proliferated on both sides of the aisle. Many of their proponents frankly, even proudly, admit they are responding to the current public mood, as if that is what they were put in office to do. Those who think they were elected sometimes to lead rather than follow seem to be in a minority.

The most popular resolutions simply oppose the troop increase without offering much useful guidance on what to do instead, other than perhaps go back to the Baker-Hamilton commission's vague plan for a gradual withdrawal. Sen. Hillary Clinton wants to cap the number of troops in Iraq at 137,500. No one explains why this is the right number, why it shouldn't be 20,000 troops lower or higher. But that's not really the point, is it?

Other critics claim that these are political cop-outs, which they are. These supposedly braver critics demand a cutoff of funds for the war and the start of a withdrawal within months. But they're not honest either, since they refuse to answer the most obvious and necessary questions: What do they propose the United States do when, as a result of withdrawal, Iraq explodes and ethnic cleansing on a truly horrific scale begins? What do they propose our response should be when the entire region becomes a war zone, when al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations establish bases in Iraq from which to attack neighboring states as well as the United States? Even the Iraq Study Group acknowledged that these are likely consequences of precipitate withdrawal.

Those who call for an "end to the war" don't want to talk about the fact that the war in Iraq and in the region will not end but will only grow more dangerous. Do they recommend that we then do nothing, regardless of the consequences? Or are they willing to say publicly, right now, that they would favor sending U.S. troops back into Iraq to confront those new dangers? Answering those questions really would be honest and brave.

...

I would think that anyone wanting to be president in January 2009 would be hoping and praying that the troop increase works. The United States will be dealing with Iraq one way or another in 2009, no matter what anyone says or does today. The only question is whether it is an Iraq that is salvageable or an Iraq sinking further into chaos and destruction and dragging America along with it.

A big part of the answer will come soon in the battle for Baghdad. Politicians in both parties should realize that success in this mission is in their interest, as well as the nation's. Here's a wild idea: Forget the political posturing, be responsible, and provide the moral and material support our forces need and expect. The next president will thank you.
One of the striking aspects of the opposition to the surge is the lack of comprehension of the consequences of not defeating the enemy in Iraq. What Kagan focuses on is the fact that our leaving is not going to make the problems go away, but will make them worse. He is right. The Murtha plan of moving them to Okinawa or Kuwait want solve the problem, but it will make it more difficult for the US to have an impact on the outcome. It want solve the problem of having our troops under attack since the enemy will attack them at any base in the middle east.

When politicians think the situation in Iraq is hopeless because of sectarian violence, why do they ignore the fact that the war in Afghanistan is also about sectarian violence. The Taliban are religious bigots trying to impose their will on a population in much the same way the enemy in Iraq is.

One thing that is clear in both countries is that the consequences of US withdrawal would not be peace for the US or for the people of those countries and their neighbors. We are in a war witht he Islamic religious bigots. They are the ones that have chosen to make war against us and whether we want to respond to their war is irrelevant to them.

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