Who exactly did we liberate in Iraq? Tens of thousands are fleeing, many more have been killed, cities have been destroyed and the necessities in life are becoming a luxury not many can afford.
Bush now wants an American troop surge while Shiite and Sunni militias are fighting each other, setting off car bombs and kidnapping enemies. They are torturing and murdering one another. The police are corrupt, and the government is not stepping up. Prime Minister Maliki appears incompetent, and recently told the Wall Street Journal he never wanted the job in the first place.
We invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein posed a “grave and dangerous threat”. When that proved false, it became a “liberation” where the Iraqi people would greet us with flowers. That too, sadly, has proven wrong. Saddam Hussein may have used chemical weapons on his own people, but it was with weapons supplied to him by the United States when Iraq was fighting Iran. People seem to forget that Saddam was still our “friend” at that time.
Saddam had Iraq under his thumb. That is what a dictator does. But he was a secular dictator, which means he did not rule Iraq the same way the Taliban ruled Afghanistan or how the Royal Family rules Saudi Arabia. Women were able to go to school and drive cars, the people weren’t starving, and there wasn’t any religious oppression because Saddam himself was not religious. I am not trying to paint a rosy picture of Saddam Hussein or defend him. But I am disturbed when I see what many Iraqis are doing to each other now that Saddam is gone. Quite frankly, he had a lid on the brutal sectarian violence taking place now. Many of these militias running around seem more frightening than Saddam ever was.
Regardless of “good intentions”, we made a strategic error invading Iraq. If we go forward with the troop surge plan Bush intends to implement, the violence will get worse. Iran and North Korea love the fact that we’re bogged down, hence their steady defiance over the last few years. Iraq is going to fight it’s civil war whether we leave now or two decades from now. The most powerful militia will seize power eventually, and they won’t do it in a voting booth. The problem is, instead of secular government – like Saddam’s regime – we will see a religious fundamentalist hotbed of American hatred backed up by Iran. Regardless of how evil Saddam was, he was a thorn in the side of Iran and Al Qaeda, not an ally.
The majority of generals are against a troop surge. Most of Congress has reservations about it, and the American people are tired of hearing “sacrifice” and “we’ll stay til the job is done”. There is no plan, no strategy, and too much political spin… What is victory, Mr. President? If we add more troops, the Iraqis will not have the incentive to step up. Either Bush is so stubborn and full of pride that he won’t bow to pressure around him but instead defy it, or he’s doing this because he’s got nothing to lose. Another reason is he may be that he’s living in bubble, believing this is his calling. The Bible is specific about war in the Middle East. A bad sign is the fact that the two top generals, General George Casey Jr. and General John Abizaid (who are against a troop surge), were replaced. If things really do get worse, Democrats may be forced to cut off funding for the war and therefore risk a political falling out. Conservatives focused on 2008 could spin the idea that Democrats don’t “support the troops”. Everyone knows Iraq is a mess and no matter what we do it will be a mess. Bush would rather save his pride than do the right thing and begin a timetable for withdrawal. It’s this ‘cowboy’ mentality of appearing tough rather than admit you’ve screwed up.
We are not fighting terrorism in Iraq. We are trying to stave off a civil war that has nothing to do with us. The problem is, the most likely victor will be a Shiite faction that will have the support of Iran, who will suppress women, open their arms to terrorists and will torture and kill their Sunni rivals. Once power is solidified, Iran will have a new ally, along with Syria.
Saddam may have hated the United States, but he hated his neighbors even more. The last thing we need is a unified extremist Middle East, which is exactly what we are inadvertently creating. A troop surge in Iraq will only cause more death and destruction in a region that needs to take responsibility for themselves.