What a country we live in. Millions of people go to the polls to declare they are fed up with the situation in Iraq created by Pres. Bush. By voting out quite a few of the rubbert stamp deadheaded Republicans who legitimized this illegal invasion by not holding the perpetrator of it accountable, the implicit message was clear: end this war and bring home moms and dads, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands and sons and daughters who weren’t fortunate enough to be born with the last name Bush. And now the brilliant minds running the country are at it again: let’s end this war by sending MORE troops over there.
The US presence in Iraq is based on a series of lies, misleading statements and bad analysis. The reasons for not immediately pulling every remaining American soldier from Iraq are based upon the same things. America does not and never did have a viable national security reason for invading Iraq: the country presented no immediate danger to our shores, was not involved in anyway with the tragedies that happened on September 11, 2001, and possessed not one single weapon of mass destruction, despite what Bush and Cheney and Rice and Rumsfeld and Powell and McCain and Frist and Guiliani told us. Therefore America should begin to immediately create a plan to withdraw all troops from Iraq because it is an unwinnable war, because the Iraqis have by now exhausted whatever desire they may have had for a democracy, and because the US has made life for most Iraqis worse than it was under Saddam.
It is not accidental that the invasion of Iraq took place so soon after the attacks of September 11, 2001. At first the White House tried to directly connect Iraq to those attacks and even as the evidence became stronger that there was no basis for that connection, they still didn’t try very hard to deny it. Eventually, Pres. Bush simply decided to declare a war on terror itself, not on the countries or peoples responsible. This allowed him to conduct a war wherever he chose. He chose Iraq for reasons that are still unclear. The invasion, however, certainly cemented the connection in most Americans’ minds that it was payback for 9/11. Americans are now fighting and losing in Iraq; a country that doesn’t even have an army. But that isn’t as bad as it sounds because Pres. Bush never declared war on an army. He declared war on an abstraction: terror.
The only problem is that you can’t win a war declared against an abstraction. Americans have already watched as Presidents have declared wars on poverty and drugs that have gone one for decades and are now no closer to being won than ever. Those in favor of the war say that if America leaves Iraq now it will result in civil war where all the different Islamic factions will fight each other and allow a situation where Syria or Iran could gain control. What they fail to admit is that the very reason this fear exists is that Americans took away the one thing that could hold those factions together: Saddam Hussein. In order for Americans to be as successful as Saddam was, we would have to use his brutal tactics. Although Pres. Bush condoned torture and restriction of rights, it is doubtful that Americans would stand by while he openly committed genocide. (At this point, anyway. If the war had been going well, who knows.) Unfortunately, that is the only way to keep all the strife of a civil war at bay.
After it was finally revealed that there never had been any weapons of mass destruction, the justification from the White House for the invasion turned to building a democracy in Iraq. It was apparently hoped that placing a democracy in the one country in the Middle East least likely to become a democracy would create a domino effect throughout the region. (Can you say Vietnam, boys and girls?) At least that was what Americans were told. At first it appeared that although Iraqis were not welcoming US troops with open arms as liberators like the White House promise, at least they did seem to like the idea of running their own country. But as Iraq has descended into a cruel and devastating place to live, with fear surrounding them wherever they go, many have already started looking back upon the days of Saddam Hussein with some nostalgia.
Still, supporters say that democracy takes time, and that it shouldn’t be expected to happen overnight. They point to America, which took thirteen years to go from declaring its independence to electing its first President. The problem is that America was working without 200 years of worldwide democratic governments to show it what to do. And the way things are going, if it takes another ten years in Iraq, more Americans will have died for that country’s independence than died for America’s own. Americans simply cannot afford to wait for Iraq to become a democracy. And it doesn’t appear at this point that the Iraqis want one. You simply cannot expect a democracy to grow under the occupation of a foreign government. That doesn’t make sense. Anyone truly wishing to see Iraq achieve democracy must understand that the only way that can happen is if they want it enough to fight for it themselves.
America must also leave Iraq now before it gets even worse as a result of growing dissatisfaction among the people there, which will lead to more of them joining the insurgency. Iraqis today have less freedom to walk the street, have less access to electricity and water, and even pay for more gasoline than they did before the US invasion. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who is to blame for this unhappy situation. Had America not invaded the country, many of those people may very well have been killed by Saddam Hussein. But many, many more would have more freedom, electricity and gasoline. The argument will be that if the US leaves, another strongman may come in and be able to provide-by force-those things that Iraqis have lost. He will then receive their loyalty and love and create a situation in which many of them will willingly carry out any anti-American policy he chooses.
That may very well be, but if America had only had a plan before going in that would resulted in our being able to provide Iraqis these needs, then perhaps we would be on the receiving end of that loyalty. The White House had no plan, however. They had no plan going in and they haven’t developed a plan since. Are we to believe that they will suddenly develop a plan next year? And even if they do, that plan will have been developed based on the situation as it is now. But who knows what the situation will be like in another year. Every day more Iraqis die as a result of the American occupation. And every day more and more of them have gotten fed up enough to join the insurgency. The US has lost more than territory or ground, they have lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqis. Those people no longer believe that we know what is best for them and can make that happen. The longer we stay there without a plan to quickly turn around the mistakes that have already been made, the worse it is going to get. So, unless supporters can produce a plan today-not immediately, since they’ve had three years-to convince the world that they can accomplish this, the US needs to begin preparing to leave immediately. Otherwise things will only get worse and there will be more deaths on both sides.
The war in Iraq against a country without an army will go down in history as one that lasted longer than a war against German, Italian and Japanese armies during World War II. That is simply unaccountable. There is no reason for the Iraq war to last this long and unless it is ended immediately, it appears likely to go on even longer than the Vietnam War. That war, too, was unwinnable; America’s leaders need to return to the strategy they used when they were of draft age during the Vietnam War: cutting and running. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and all the rest didn’t consider draft dodging and going AWOL during Vietnam to be a cut and run strategy, so why do they now. The war in Iraq is unwinnable, democracy cannot be established in Iraq and the people there no longer believe we can provide them with a safe and effective country. To leave may well leave the region in chaos, but for that we have no one but ourselves to blame. It’s time to leave, regroup and actually plan a strategy for how to deal with the utter mess left us by our utterly incompetent President.