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Redeploy specifically or primarily to KURDISTAN

Reader comment on item: Salvaging the Iraq War

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Jul 24, 2007 at 21:13

There are a number of reasons that a redeployment of most of our troops to Kurdistan would arrest the accelerating hemorrhage of our position in Iraq, and at the same time enable the US to salvage and even advance our strategic interests in the Middle East. In other words, a decision to make this redeployment would refute the widespread and bleak assessment that "all our options in Iraq are bad".

1. This redeployment would almost completely end the loss of life and sustaining of terrible wounds by our soldiers, which are increasingly and rightly seen as a pointless and unforgivable waste. This would happen because Kurdistan is an ally of necessity and, by all the accounts I've seen, strongly desires our presence and protection from an unbroken circle of neighbors who wish to annihilate it (sound familiar with regard to our only true ally in the region?).

2. This redeployment would put us in a far better position to monitor and if need be menace an Iran which has become dangerously grandiose in its ambitions. Not only would we be even closer to Iran, but we would be surrounded by a friendly population and army rather than being distracted and hamstrung by the savage and deadly enmity of both Shiites and Sunnis in the rest of a crumbling Iraq.

3. Ditto with regard to Syria.

4. This redeployment would send a 'signal' to Turkey not to invade and snuff out Kurdistan. This is more important than it sounds because Bush, after having trashed every valuable lesson of his father's war is now on the road to repeat his only grave mistake - the betrayal of the Kurds in 1991. If this betrayal happens a second time, it will be a more dangerous evidence of our inconstancy as a reliable international ally than the failure to prop up the corrupt, incompetent, and viciously sectarian Maliki "government".

5. This redeployment would be invaluable in helping us regain the political initiative. From being on the defensive, from being unable to protect our soldiers from militarily useless loss of life and limb, and from continuing to show a disapproving world an utter absence of achievable policy goals in Iraq, we would have made a bold change that quickly stemmed or even stopped the loss of US lives, and
put us in a dramatic position to reproject power from the heart of the Middle East. We would have regained our freedom of movement and maneuver, both politically and militarily.

Incidentally, then and not now, from a position of renewed strength rather than great stress and perceived weakness, would be the time to start talks with Iran and Syria.

6. Related to the above, this strategic redeployment would give us a strong and secure base from which to send Special and other forces to attack, assault and annihilate any Taliban- or Hezbollah-like force that tried to establish itself anywhere in the remnants of Shiite or Sunni Iraq. This would not be a complete answer to all the problems the crumbled remnants of Iraq would present to its various neighbors,
but it is an answer to any major threat Jihadists in Iraq might present to the United States, or to Israel.

Neither Iraq's geography nor any bordering areas lend themselves to the sanctuary threat that we face along the Pakistan/ Afghanistan border. It also bears remembering, as a redeployment to Kurdistan gave us relief from guerilla warfare, that none of Iraq's neighbors have been particularly helpful, and that Iraqis could have chosen a political and peaceful opposition to our presence rather than instantly opting for beheadings and other savagery. In other words, although our reckless leaders provoked this mess, we are not responsible for the escalating lethal activities taking place - the Iraqis and the Shiite and Sunni cultures, and, dare one say it, the religion of Islam and homicidal clerics are
responsible if genocide or something close to it takes place in Iraq.

And if a wider regional war is going to take place, we do not have the primary responsibility for that. The participants in such a war will have that honor.

7. Last, and not least, the decision to redeploy, assuming the attitude of the Kurdish government and people remains as pro-American as it seems to be, depends on no one else. This means that the awful position we let ourselves get into - a position that no Great Power versed in the fundamentals of statecraft should ever allow to happen - with our success and prestige dependent on a reed as incompetent and unreliable as the Maliki "government", is entirely cured.

It seems inconceivable that Bush will willingly accept any redeployment. The reason is simple. To accept it means recognition, at least to some degree, that his policy and war in Iraq has been a terrible failure. But the irony, and grave danger to the national interest is, if we don't have a policy that intelligently tries to salvage and renew our position, we stand to sustain a wholy unrelieved and strategic defeat and loss of all Iraq to enemy and probably terrorist forces.

We must not blindly, mulishly, and above all unimaginatively, pursue a policy of 'surge' and 'escalation' that has no more behind it than the President's plaintive plea to "give it a chance". His misguided supporters, otherwise responsible figures such as McCain, Graham, and Lieberman, should do much better than this I think MacArthur, of Inchon fame, might like this idea.

If we react boldly, and redeploy decisively and imaginatively, we might well save far more of our position in the Middle East than anyone thinks
possible now. But Bush is incapable of doing it on his own, or even of accepting it. It must be urged and even politically forced on him by
the bolder spirits in Congress. Let us hope, as they have begun to, that they can rise to this challenge, and show a better, wiser, and
more intelligently ferocious United States than has been seen since the decision was made to stop pursuing bin Laden and take the wrong
turn into Iraq.

Ron Thompson

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