Iraq War – Should we Leave? Part I

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

In the previous posts I have looked back at the question of should we have gone to war in Iraq, and despite the fact that large stockpiles of WMDs were not found, on balance the reasons for going to war are still valid. But whether or not we should have gone into Iraq, the fact remains that we are there. As such the more pressing question of the moment is should we leave? First I will look at some of the reason given why we should leave.

For many this is an easy question to answer. Because Bush lied we went to war on false grounds, therefore we should leave. But such a simplistic (and false) analysis hardly counts as rational argument. Even if true, that we went in on false ground does not automatically lead to the conclusion we should get out for one could just as easy argue we broke it, now it our job to fix it. Whether we were or were not correct to invade, the terrorists have since declared the conflict to be “the greatest battle of Islam in this era” and “the decisive battle.” Any decision to leave has to take into consideration not only why we entered, but more importantly what will happen if we leave.

Others point to the large number of those killed which is 3511 as of this writing, and claims that Iraq is not worth another American life. While slightly better than the previous argument, this argument fails to put this number in perspective. The costs in deaths must be compared with the threat we face, and the threat we face is determined by the goals of the enemy combined with their ability to carry them out. The goals of the enemy are pretty clear. They believe they are on a mission from God to kill or convert unbelievers. As for their ability to carry out their goals, numerous terrorist attacks, both before, including and after 9/11 has demonstrated their ability and desire to kill thousands. If left unchallenged, their ability to kill large number would only grow and unless stopped, it is not a matter of if they will someday get nuclear weapon, but when; and when they get them, they will use them. This is why many see the threat of terrorism as “The greatest threat since WWII.” But while the threats are comparable, particularly if the terrorist get nuclear weapons, the US casualties in WWII were over 400,000. In fact if we had quit WWII after reaching the casualties we have had in the war of Terror, WWII would have only lasted a few days before we threw in the towel as being too costly. On the other hand, in the current war, if the terrorist are able to detonate a few well places nuclear bombs, we would quickly exceed the casualties of WWII.

Others claim we should leave because of the mistakes that have been made. One of the things about war, however, is that it is not a static endeavor, and actions do not occur in a vacuum. Like it or not, the enemy gets to respond and there is a reason for the saying “No battle plan survives the first shot.” The early part of the civil war was marked by numerous mistakes by the Union Army, and it took years for Lincoln to find a good general. Mistakes abound in all war. Operation Torch the opening of the war in Europe during WWII was also marked by miscalculation. The battle of Armhem, chronicled in the movie a “A Bridge Too Far” was a huge debacle. That there were mistakes is a good reason to do better, but not to leave.

Similarly irrational is the argument that because we have gone of the war in Iraq there is more terrorism in the world. One problem with such arguments is that there were many terrorist acts before the invasion of Iraq, including 9/11. In addition the ability of the terrorist to carry out large attacks was growing. Are we really supposed to believe that had we not invaded Iraq, the Terrorist would have gone away? But an even worse problem, is the fact that whenever you fight back of course there will be more conflict than if you do nothing. When we entered WWII there was more conflict after we entered than before we entered.

A possible difference in this war is the claim that our very being in Iraq is enflaming the Muslim world, leading more people to become terrorist. This may very well be the case, but it goes to the heart of the larger problem we face. As mentioned before, for decades despotic rulers, and radical cleric throughout the Islamic world have blamed the US and Israel for pretty much every problem Muslims face. We were blamed before 9/11, we blamed for going into Afghanistan, and blamed now for going into Iraq. After all in a poll of public opinion in six Islamic countries a few months after 9/11 showed that only 18% believed that the 11 hijackers were Arab men, and only 9% believed that the US was correct to go into Afghanistan.

This is one of the main reason I always saw the war in Iraq as a big risk, with a significant chance that it could grow into a much larger war. For the moment, while things are certainly difficult in Iraq, the chance of this growing into a larger war seem small. But it remains a danger. However the best solution would be to achieve victory in Iraq such that we can leave the country with a stable democratic government that can defend itself.  More next time.

Jun 19th, 2007

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