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To Protect and Defend the Constitution of Iraq

Reader comment on item: Does Rumsfeld Favor Getting U.S. Troops out of Iraqi Inhabited Areas?

Submitted by William J Green (United States), Dec 7, 2006 at 19:35

To Protect and Defend Iraq

As America drifts meaninglessly along yet another sluggish foreign policy river of debacle; as scores, hundreds, and now thousands of brave, committed American youth are slaughtered on the streets of another far away land; as global enemies gather in increasing numbers and plot the destruction of our nation, America remains bound to a choice between indefinite continuation of the current myopic policy insanity or blind disengagement from a potent and deadly enemy. The language of the debate is a sound byte familiar as a commercial jingle: "Stay the course" or "Cut and Run." Aside from the intended spin of these phrases, their greater significance lies in the vast spectrum of possibility between them and in the lack of public debate within that realm.

The difficulty in engendering rational discussion of the option between these alternatives lies in the fact that any call for withdrawal from Iraq is easily cast and perceived as a complete disengagement from the enemy, a disavowal of the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform and an act of abject cowardice and defeatism. The President and a host of talk show hosts continually espouse the illogical view that the self sacrifice involved in patrolling the bomb-ridden, deadly streets of Baghdad is the best means by which to defend America at the source of its peril rather than within our own borders. Democratic hopefuls and freelance pacifists are quick to observe the failures of the worst American foreign policy disaster since Vietnam. The American public is constantly barraged by these polarized and politically charged postures but is offered no concrete plan for departure from the current procedure.

Following the recent congressional election there has been a renewal of interest in alternatives to the policy that has dominated the recent years of the Iraqi conflict. The President has promised a review of method but is equally insistent that American military presence will continue in Iraq. The intended duration of this presence is undefined as the setting of a date, it is believed, would insure failure, thus leaving America in a classic catch 22. A Pentagon study group has offered some sound advice - a policy reevaluation can be effected by an increase in troop levels, a decrease in troop levels or an end to troop levels. It is hard to argue with that logic. Many Americans, including an increasing number in office, want to "support the troops" by bringing them home while others are equally vehement about honoring their commitment in the field by keeping them there for the duration of an indefinite conflict. While the Republican congress plods along in the wake of the President it is doubtful that the incoming Democratic congress will be able to make a radical departure from that policy. The long cherished American tradition of securing victory in the field will likely preclude the political expediency of freshmen congressmen calling for retreat from battle. It is all too possible that the imperatives of political survival will stifle meaningful debate or innovative response to the current policy morass for a dangerously long time to come.

A critique of the President's foreign policy and its Iraqi lynchpin should not be heard or construed as an attack on the Administration or its values. Millions of American political, social and economic conservatives support the causes which the President and the mainstream of his party hold dear and are strongly in favor of using the best means possible to defend the nation against those who seek to destroy us. The point of critique is over the best means by which America might be defended and the great cost of unsure methods.

The cost of the Iraqi conflict is far greater than the hundreds of billions of dollars earmarked by a willing Congress. The war in Iraq has now dragged on for longer than the American involvement in World War II. The cost in American lives is fast approaching the human toll of September 11, 2001. The cost to the Republican Party and the conservative values that it still half-heartedly champions is only partially measured by the loss of Congress and any hope of gaining Senate approval for future conservative Supreme Court nominees. The cost to American public morale is incalculable. The fear of a renewed draft is the worst nightmare of millions of American parents. Most importantly, by squandering America's military, economic, diplomatic and morale resources on the Iraqi conflict the Administration has lost the power to engage or respond to any significant fresh front of conflict.

It would be a mistake to read here any call for disengagement or retreat from those who seek to murder our families, stifle our freedom of worship and destroy our nation and way of life. There is no call here for a politically expedient compromise sweeping the reality of the peril that confronts us under the rug to be dealt with by a future administration. The threat of annihilation must be confronted with the inflexible resolve judiciously using available resources to insure the continuation of our freedom and our lives. The essential foreign policy question, then, is: does the continuation of America's troop involvement on the streets of Iraq enhance or imperil America's hope for the future in a hostile and threatening world?

The contention here is that the method of American defense being waged in the streets of Bagdad against masked enemies, at the time of their choosing, according to the methods of their madness, and in relative accord with their own level of weapon technology is a blunder in the highest degree. One does not dive into the water to kill a shark. A boxer does not lead with his chin. It is equally lunacy to fight a disadvantaged enemy on terms that squander technological supremacy and offer the enemy the advantage of stealth and surprise. What is urgently needed is a withdrawal and regrouping of all of America's tangible and intangible resources to confront national threats and renew the conflict on America's own terms.

The difficulty with an American withdrawal from conflict lies in the fact that it is not politically expedient to call for what would be perceived as a defeat in battle, a result that would be judged neither honorable nor manly. It was with the greatest of effort that General MacArthur was persuaded to leave the imperiled Philippines, and not a single defender crossed the line in the sand to accept Colonel Travis's offer and honorably abandon the Alamo. Moreover, withdrawal from Iraq would be seen as a return to the status quo ante bellum, as an end to the conflict and a return to the policy of placation and accommodation with our nation's enemies. It would be difficult to secure the blessing and support of the nation and Congress for a renewal of resolve in more threatening regions of the world or on the national borders. It would require a great deal of rhetoric and education from the Administration to clarify that a withdrawal from Iraq does not signal a retreat from the war against terror and the confrontation of America's national and ideological enemies. It is very unlikely, given the slow paced reality of American policy transformation and the impassioned single-mindedness of the President, that time remains in his administration to effect both a withdrawal from Iraq and a redeployment of diplomatic resolve. But this is exactly what must be attempted, and that as soon as possible and without delay.

Withdrawal and timely redeployment is not necessarily the right answer. One does not make ten wrong turns into an uncharted forest and then ask his companion what may be the right path among the next set of choices. If it is impossible to exactly retrace one's steps, then it is necessary to begin making a series of correct choices that will eventually disengage resources for redeployment on a more expedient front. Withdrawal from Iraq would mean an end to a singular policy of "staying the course" to which all other American overseas imperatives are subservient. An end to this senseless engagement would free all aspects of American resources for influence or redeployment in nearly endless creative and flexible methods throughout the world. America is not able to make an adequate defense against multiple growing military and ideological threats abroad while the nation's resources are enmeshed in a single fray. Nor can the Administration risk even limited engagement for the rescue of oppressed peoples being slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands in Africa and elsewhere beyond the borders of Iraq.

Most Americans still agree that it was the right thing to remove Saddam Hussein from power and that the cost to America, even the cost in soldiers' lives, was worth the removal of that heinous dictator, the freedom of the Iraqi people and the end to the then-perceived threat from that budding nuclear power. Why the President has made it his mission to protect and defend the Constitution of Iraq at the expense of our own nation can only be conjectured. After America's withdrawal from its ill-begotten venture in Southeastern Asia a promise was made by an American president that never again would the military be asked to fight a war with one hand tied behind its back. That is exactly what is happening again in the current conflict. It has long been past time to withdraw from Iraq, give safe haven to key supporters of the Iraqi administration and let the madmen of the region decide their own fate. It is not the responsibility of willing young Americans to wrench them apart from their suicidal internecine conflict, and there are suffering people throughout the world far more worthy of assistance. In the event that another anti-American regime should come to power in Iraq – and how can we doubt that one will? – a well managed, flexible and unfettered American military and diplomatic corps will be available to deal with circumstances as they might arise.

William J. Green

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