Withdrawal -- or Retreat?
08.15.2005 05:17 | DISPATCHES
From the Dossier of an Ex-Patriot.
After sending conflicting signals in recent days over reducing the US deployment to Iraq, President Bush set the record straight by falling back on the old we can't withdraw before the mission is complete line.
"If the public was left confused," Peter Baker said in his August 12 Washington Post article, "In Iraq, No Clear Finish Line," "it may be no more unsure than the administration itself, as some government officials involved in Iraq policy privately acknowledge."
Funny how when it comes to Iraq, the realpolitik crowd goes all human rights on us. First it claimed we invaded Iraq, in part, to free its people from a tyrant. Now it's concerned that, should we leave now, the Sunnis, Shi'ites, and Al Qaeda will slaughter each other.
Besides, everyone knows withdrawal doesn't work -- especially when we've already ejaculated.
In his piece "Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic," The New Republic, August 11, Peter Galbraith doesn't advocate withdrawal. However, he does make the claim that, with or without a substantial US presence, the Sunni insurgency "cannot win. Neither the al-Qaeda terrorists nor the former Baathists can win. [Neither can they be defeated, he adds.] Even if the US withdrew tomorrow, neither insurgents nor terrorists would be knocking down the gates to Iraq's Presidential Palace in Baghdad."
Meanwhile, in "What's Wrong With Cutting and Running?" on Media Channel, General William Odom, head of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration, provides the most compelling refutations to reasons for staying you'll find anywhere. Not only that, he also supplies us with a comprehensive guide to lo, the many reasons, Iraq hurts us.
Central to his case: "If US policy in Iraq begins to undercut Iran's interests, then Teheran [may commit] Shiite militias to an insurgency against US forces there. . . Would it not be better to pull out now rather than to continue our present course of weakening the Sunnis and Baathists, opening the way for a Shiite dictatorship?"
Besides enabling Iran, General Odom maintains, we're also giving succor to bin Laden by making US military personnel easy pickings for Al Qaeda, unifying Muslim youth worldwide, alienating our European allies, and diverting US military resources from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As if that's not enough fallout, General Odom also reminds us of Palestinian and Israeli politicians who "probably believe that bogging the United States down in a war in Iraq. . . gives them the time and cover to wipe out the other side."
What, however, provides more compelling evidence for immediate withdrawal than statistics showing that Iraqis, under our tenure, are dying at a greater rate than during Hussein's reign? After withdrawal, however, will the Iraqi death rate exceed that of Iraqis and Americans killed now? If only an unbiased projection could or would be worked up.