As a hotly contested issue in the mid-term elections November 7, the future of the war in Iraqi seems to be on everyone’s minds. Thankfully, patriots like Greg Reeson in his article, “Iraq: The Consequences of Withdrawal” try to make it clear what exactly is at stake.
Reeson’s article articulates with style and flair the number of reasons that withdrawing from Iraq now would be a bad idea. I appreciate this viewpoint as an American citizen and a student of history. I have heard dozens of conservatives and pro-war advocates argue angrily at the media and Democrats categorization of the war in Iraq as Bush’s Vietnam. With all due respect to those who oppose the war, I think you might want to check your history before comparing the two and realize that any comparison leads to the inevitable conclusion that we must stay and fight in Iraq until the enemy is defeated.
Do you really think that standing on principal on to later say, “Oops, this is too hard, we should go now,” will lead to any real respect in the international community? Isn’t that how France ended up with a reputation for surrender? Do we really think that leaving the war after 3,000 Americans died on September 11 is any different than the French surrendering to Germany in World War II?
After Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson bowed to citizen pressure and kept the United States military from winning the war in Vietnam, the region did not suddenly stabilize. In fact, it took two decades to even get the remains of our fallen soldiers returned home. It took that long for the truth about how American prisoners-of-war were treated, tortured and killed, to come out and no one ever paid for those lost lives. Do we really want the terrorists who behead American soldiers and kidnap Christian aid workers to spend the next 20 years celebrating their victory?
Another accurate comparison between this war and the war in Vietnam is that the U.S. government seems to have lost the public relations effort in both wars. At some point since World War II, the American government has forgotten the public relations campaigns that brought it support when thousands of Americans were dying every day in the South Pacific and Europe. The death toll in Iraq hasn’t reached the one-day totals of the beaches at Normandy and the consequences of the war are just as dire as they were in Germany in 1945.
Reeson’s article points out that withdrawing from Iraq weakens the United States in the world’s eyes and by extension endangers American military personnel around the world. Does it really matter if we save a few lives by withdrawing from Iraq only to see those same soldiers blown up by militant extremists somewhere else, funded by the same Anti-Western sentiment as the insurgents in Iraq?
Do we as a society want to embarrassed in 20 years when a Hollywood director has to point out the shoddy way we treated veterans of this war, as they had to do with “Born of the Fourth of July” and the Vietnam War? Shouldn’t we already be ashamed that we allow the men fighting for our country to be tortured and humiliated? Shouldn’t we already be ashamed that activists of any type feel that a funeral is an appropriate place for a political agenda?
We have already begun to repeat the feel good mistakes that cost us the hearts and minds of the American people when we were fighting in Vietnam. We talk about the atrocities that American troops commit and never accurately show what is happening to our soldiers, because it might not be good video or breakfast conversation. What about the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and his sons? The rape chambers and torture and genocide were a way of life. Is it any wonder that this country is not settling into democracy as easily as we had hoped?
Perhaps, if we need a scapegoat to blame for this war, instead of blaming the current president, we could blame his father. The first President Bush made the first Gulf War look like a video game, with few American casualties and a picnic on the grounds after we liberated Kuwait. Maybe, if Americans were forced to remember that war is never pretty and is not fought from naval ships 100 miles away from their targets, they would value the sacrifice, but understand the necessity. Or maybe, it’s because we became too aware of what our government is doing. The media should not be imbedded with the troops and I should not be seeing enemy propaganda, labeled as “insurgent’s videos” on how to make a sniper attack, on the nightly news.
Maybe, it’s that the American government needs a better propaganda machine. Send back Rosie the Riveter and Victory Gardens. Historically, in every major conflict the American government has had a committee charged with pro-war propaganda and this time the best we have is talk radio. Maybe it’s that while we try to argue that video games and rock music have made us more violent, we are actually too soft to do the things that need to be done. Can you imagine the world if the colonial militia had decided to just let the Redcoats win, because people were dying after being shot with musket balls?
Or, if after Pearl Harbor, we had sued Japan for peace, because they killed 2,400 Americans that day, about 400 less than have been killed in three years in Iraq?
Reeson’s article articulates in sound logic and military precision the reasons why withdrawing from Iraq is a bad idea. If the Census Bureau estimates are accurate, I can think of about 300 million more.